Each year from Sept. 15-Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the extensive histories, diverse cultures and many contributions of the American Latino community, including those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Santa Barbara City College is proud to share the stories of current Vaquero student-athletes Emily Ruiz and Jahir Valdez.
Ms. Ruiz plays on the women’s golf team.
The freshman is a ninth-generation Santa Barbaran on her great-grandfather’s side. The Ruiz family is one of the founding families of Santa Barbara, and the family’s last name can be found in one of the books at the mission and the presidio.
Ms. Ruiz’s family has also donated the land that now holds the mission’s rose gardens.
The other part of her Hispanic heritage comes from Sonora, Mexico on her great grandmother’s side. She lived in Santa Barbara throughout her elementary school education, until she moved with her family up to the Santa Ynez Valley, where she eventually graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. While going to school there, she competed in golf, track and field, and basketball. After graduating, she decided to continue playing golf at SBCC.
Ms. Ruiz is proud to represent her family name at SBCC through playing golf. She is also working toward an associate degree in biology, which she hopes to continue studying at a four-year university.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it allows you to learn more about yourself and the culture that you come from,” Ms. Ruiz said. “For me, I love going out to the events and community celebrations the month provides and spending time there with friends and family.”
Mr. Valdez is a sophomore on the SBCC men’s soccer team.
He was born in Santa Barbara, but moved to Leon Guanajuato, Mexico when he was f4 years old with his parents and siblings.
He completed school at Complejo Educativo Cervantino and decided to return to Santa Barbara to attend SBCC and obtain an associate degree while playing soccer. He lives with his grandparents in Santa Barbara and has been here for two years now.
Jahir admits it was difficult to adapt at first, as it was a totally different lifestyle to what he was used to. The hardest thing was not seeing his parents and siblings every day. He admitted that the change from Spanish to English was not the easiest for him, but within a few months of being here, everything started to fall into place. He met a lot of people from SBCC and his work, and he now considers his teammates from the SBCC men’s soccer to be family. He said he feels really happy living in such a great city.
Michael Jorgenson works in communications/media relations at Santa Barbara City College.