Throughout her career and long-standing public service work, DÃ©borah GonzÃ¡lez has drawn on her personal experiences to help others meet their own challenges, especially in underserved communities.
The director of community engagement at Quinsigamond Community College, GonzÃ¡lez leads a program advisory committee to help coordinate English offerings for speakers of other languages, oversees the teaching of the high school equivalency test in Spanish and studies the barriers to access to higher education for the under-represented in Worcester. County. She also connects with community organizations in Worcester and Southbridge, as well as with public and private entities, to take advantage of opportunities for Quinsigamond students.
âWe want the students to be 100% successful,â GonzÃ¡lez said.
GonzÃ¡lez has held this position since 2010 and was previously Associate Director of Admissions for Quinsigamond. In addition, she teaches Puerto Rican history and Spanish in college and was until recently a student counselor.
Since the start of his career, however, GonzÃ¡lez has worked with the community on English as a Second Language (ESL) initiatives and helped families navigate different systems. She began working at Holyoke Community College as an ESL Support Services Coordinator from 1995 to 2001, while continuing her own education as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After moving to Worcester in 2000, she took a break from her job to care for her two daughters – now 19 and 20 – and then started working as the coordinator of the family resource center in Latino. Education Institute, while also serving as a parent. outreach coordinator for the Worcester Community Partnership.
At Quinsigamond, GonzÃ¡lez said: âI continue to do the work that I did before, but now with greater capacity with higher goals and more resources. “
GonzÃ¡lez uses her experiences – she came to the United States in 1988 from Puerto Rico to attend UMass Amherst – to help students and families overcome challenges they may face. She said that although she could read and write English, she didn’t have much speaking ability at first.
After graduating in 1992, GonzÃ¡lez earned a master’s and then a doctorate. âThe most important thing is to persist,â she said. âI came here when I was 18. I had no network, no family here. You may be able to do this.
Beyond his work in Quinsigamond, GonzÃ¡lez is very active in the community of Worcester. Since 2009, she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Maison Hector Reyes and is currently Co-Chair of HACE (Hispanics Achieving and Celebrating Excellence), an organization that offers scholarships and opportunities to attend leadership conferences for students. Latinos in Worcester Public and Southbridge High Schools.
A member of the Steering Committee of the Worcester Community Connections Coalition, GonzÃ¡lez has also worked with the Mayor’s Commission for Excellence and Advancement of Latin American Education; served on the Worcester City Manager‘s Coalition Against Bias and Hate for four years and was Chair of the Education Subcommittee in 2019; and was chairman of the board of Centro Inc., a group that helps integrate Latino immigrants into the wider community in Worcester.
In addition, she is involved in the Latino Empowerment Organizing Network (LEON), an initiative resulting from the pandemic but which will continue its long-term mission of studying civic engagement and education within the Latino community. Last year she was chair of the education subcommittee, and most recently, on October 6, he hosted a candidate forum for the Worcester school committee.
“What drives me to do all of this is the need that I see predominant in this area and to serve as a role model for people who may not find the courage or the navigation tools to succeed academically,” professional or personal, âGonzÃ¡lez said. “I believe I have been through a lot of struggles in my life that have given me a worldview and a personal perspective.”
She has also mentored local Latin women aspiring to graduate from college and is proud to see them working in the community, sometimes as part of a joint effort with GonzÃ¡lez herself. âWe have the impression that we are finally seeing the fruits of a long, very long hard work. It’s really exciting to see. It’s worth the wait and see what they’re meant to be, what they become, âshe said of the women she’s mentored. âJust knowing that it had such a big impact makes you feel ‘wow’. “
GonzÃ¡lez said she feels lucky to have a job that allows her to do so much good in the community. “I feel humiliated,” she added. âI do a lot of things besides my job, but it’s good to have a job that helps me do what I think I’m supposed to do. “