More than 175 individuals were present September 6th, for the San Jose City College’s new building dedication ceremony. It was fitting to have this new building named the “CARMEN CASTELLANO FINE ARTS CENTER”. The bronze metal plaque on the building will inform many future students that there was a Latina who was instrumental in advancing the fine arts. Over her 33 years of service, Carmen had great interest in the arts, culture, dancing and music and was a ‘founding mother’ of the Latino Educator’s Association (LEA) at SJCC. Back in the 1970’s, Carmen was also very involved in encouraging Latino(a) youth with her counsel, providing mentoring, and advice about financial aid.
Armando Castellano and his Quintero Latino and Mexika music group played indigenous music of the Americas before the program began. A highlight in the program was when the local dance group performed its Aztec Blessing Ceremony, which recognized the forces of nature from the Sun, East, South, West and North.
Dr. Barbara Kavalier, President of SJCC, expressed this institution’s appreciation and gratitude for the support provided to the arts and cultural programs by the Castellano Family Foundation.
Dr. Rita Cepeda, Chancellor of SJECCD, followed with her gracious commentary about the value of having community support for a local college such as SJCC. She acknowledged that SJCC is the only community college that has an organization such as Latino Educators Association (LEA) which advocates for, and develops, instructional programs in addition to encouraging local students to undertake a college degree program.
Ms. Maria Fuentes, President of SJECCD Board of Trustees, expressed appreciation for all that Carmen has done for their community college district.
Testimonials were presented by Blanca Alvarado, Former Supervisor (retired) of the County of Santa Clara; Olga Morales Anaya, a staff colleague; David Yancey, Maria Garcia, Rosalie Eskew, Teresa Paiz, and Mike Casas(Student Body President).
“I am the fellow who bought that California Lotto ticket which my wife is now spending. As soon as we knew that we would be the recipients of that very large prize, Carmen began making lists of who we could help,” said Alcario Castellano.
It was that prize that is the financial base of the Castellano Family Foundation, founded in 2001,which has supported MACLA, Mexican Heritage Plaza, El Observador journalism interns, etc.
Professor Jesus Covarrubias, Interim Dean of Humanities and Social Services, as the keynote speaker, related his dream which gave him the message that this new FINE ARTS CENTER must be named in honor of Carmen and Alcario Castellano. Al asked that the building have only Carmen’s name since it was she who did all those jobs, volunteerism, counseling and mentoring at SJCC. He was very proud that they were being supportive and altruistic of several community based non-governmental organizations which target the local Latino community with their services, training, and musical/cultural events and programs.
Carmen Castellano, the honoree, made a nostalgic presentation wherein she related many challenges which were dealt with in the past. She was grateful for having had the opportunity to develop her skills on the job. “I began with a mechanical typewriter, advanced to a electric typewriter, then to the computer keyboard and desktop.”
Daughter Carmela Castellano, read the SJECCD Board Resolution adopted last May 22, 2012. This was followed by the unveiling of the bronze plaque by daughter Maria Castellano West assisted by the grandchildren.
The closing of this dedication ceremony was a performance by the Chinese Youth Orchestra, directed by Gorden Lee, a member of the SJCC Music Faculty.