Abe Rojas has been representing Turlock, Denair and Hughson students on the Yosemite Community College Board of Trustees for 20 years and he's hoping voters will choose him in November to serve another four.
Rojas announced his candidacy for the YCC District 3 seat at an event held Thursday at the Red Brick Cafe in Turlock. The YCCD Board governs two comprehensive two-year colleges —Modesto Junior College and Columbia College. The district covers a 4,500 square mile area and serves a population over 550,000 encompassing all of two counties (Stanislaus and Tuolumne) and parts of four others (Calaveras, Merced, San Joaquin and Santa Clara).
Rojas greeted supporters Thursday night and said that he hoped to continue to serve the community college district through its current challenges.
"We are going through some changes at the District right now. We're upgrading our policies, and it's a challenge with all the new facilities to provide adequate support," he said.
YCCD is also still going through the accreditation process, something that is "very important for the students," said Rojas.
Although there are challenges ahead for the college district, Rojas said state finances are now a little more available allowing the District to have more course offerings.
Rojas said that two of the District's most noteworthy programs are its comprehensive agricultural offerings and work development courses.
"Our ag program has always been so successful and it's one where the students move on to a four-year college, graduate and then bring technology improvements back to the family farm," said Rojas.
Rojas is no stranger to public service. His community service career began while still a student himself. He was hired by the City of Turlock Recreation Department when he was in eighth grade to coordinate parks activities with the Spanish speaking children of the workers brought to town by the railroad.
He eventually became director of the Turlock Parks and Recreation Department — after two years in the Army and a year as a Turlock Police Officer — a position he served in from 1969 until his retirement in 1993.
Rojas has also been a huge supporter of local sports teams. He's been a volunteer coach, umpire and referee for various Little League and high school baseball, softball, basketball and football teams. He has also announced the home football games at Joe Debely Stadium for over 40 years.
In 2009, the City of Turlock dedicated the "Abe Rojas Field" at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex in appreciation for his longtime commitment to the community. His four decades of volunteer work with the athletic programs at California State University, Stanislaus earned him the honor of being inducted into the CSUS Hall of Fame in 2011.
Challenging Rojas for the YCC District 3 seat in November are junior college teacher Bill Holly and nonprofit legislative aide Kevin Sabo.