By Staff Reports
(Victorville) – On Saturday, February 25, 2017 the Victor Valley College Foundation will hold its annual Alumni Hall of Fame event. For over 40 years, the Foundation has been helping to bring the College and community together. With the help of the event’s presenting sponsor, Desert Valley Hospital/Desert Valley Medical Group, the Foundation will do it again, honoring four notable award recipients and raising funds to support education during an exciting “Fire and Ice” celebration aimed at promoting education in the community.
Each year the Foundation recognizes a Victor Valley College Alumni whose success reflects positively on their alma mater, honors a community servant, highlights an advocate for education and acknowledges a friend of the College. This year the four recipients include: an innovative principal, a former city manager, a leader who set a shining example for advancing education and a well-known couple who tirelessly work to improve all areas of our community.
The Alumni Hall of Fame is proud to honor and award this year’s inductee, Ginger Ontiveros. Ginger sat at the helm of the Victor Valley College Foundation for 15 years. Throughout her tenure, she brought in millions of dollars to help the College. Funding secured bought much needed equipment so students could learn on today’s tools and technologies, increased capacity in classes during the 2013 Campaign for Classes and found lost alumni through a highly visible and international award winning campaign, The Great Alumni Hunt. Ontiveros is known by her peers to be honest, professional and caring. She set the example and raised the bar high for those working in philanthropy. VVC Foundation Board President, Eric Schmidt said he has seen firsthand the outcomes of Ontiveros’ “tireless and seemingly endless energy in moving the educational objectives of (VVC) forward.”
This year, the Distinguished Community Service honor recognizes the contributions of Mike Podegracz. Mike is the former city manager of Hesperia and known as the lead city manager for the entire five-city region. Mike’s leadership, knowledge and charisma led to unity and respect among the senior management staff working within all partnering communities. There was rarely an event within the city which Mike didn’t attend. Whether it was working the conservation booth for Hesperia Days, walking in support of cancer victims and survivors during Relay for Life or picking up trash and litter alongside fellow members of community, Mike’s presence was always a constant. His accomplishments are countless, and his selection for this award was unanimous. Mike always put his city and its residents first ensuring Hesperia was known to be a better place to live.
This year’s Distinguished Education Service Award recipient recognizes Michelle Estrada for her commitment to education and Hesperia High School’s “Early College Academy”. Estrada is a Victor Valley College Alumna and a graduate of Hesperia High School. Her innovative approach to education is evident in the creation of The Early College Academy which started in 2014. The program offers an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to earn two years of college credit before leaving high school. “Estrada exemplifies what we are trying to recognize. There are people who are in the community for 30-40 years who are doing great things and they don’t get recognized,” said Victor Valley College Foundation Board President, Eric Schmidt. “Michelle is an amazing lady, as well as an extremely accomplished educator. She is a great manager, leader and someone you can really gravitate towards.”
The Presidents’ Award for 2017, which recognizes a person(s) or organization for their impact on the College, will honor two individuals who realize the opportunity to have access to an education is the greatest gift one person can give to another. Caroll and Denny Yule were selected by a joint selection from the college’s three presidents – VVC Superintendent/President Roger Wagner, Board of Trustees President John Pinkerton (during his previous term on the board) and the Foundation Board President Eric Schmidt. The Yules have contributed to numerous organizations throughout the High Desert, among them being the Victor Valley College Foundation. Caroll has served on the Board of Directors twice and often chairs the Alumni Hall of Fame event. “In the short time I’ve known Caroll and Denny, I have quickly learned that they are a truly caring couple,” Wagner said. “They care about VVC and they care about the communities we serve. Hands down the most deserving of this year’s Presidents’ Award.”
The Alumni Hall of Fame and Distinguished Service Awards Celebration will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville on Saturday, February 25, 2017. In addition to celebrating the honorees, the event will feature dinner, dancing and a silent auction. Tickets and sponsorships for the event can be purchased online at www.vvcfoundation.com.
The Victor Valley College Foundation is a fundraising and public relations partner for Victor Valley College. Gifts to the Foundation change lives by providing scholarships for deserving students, equipment to enhance training programs, tutoring to demystify difficult academic subjects and other support to enrich the college experience.