A educator who has dedicated her career to ensuring students throughout the Central Coast could go to college was appointed on Wednesday night to the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Board.
Diana Perez will fill the seat vacated by Dr. Dean Reece, who retired Dec. 31 after 50 years with the district as teacher, administrator, superintendent and board member.
Perez said she is honored to serve her community.
"I understand the challenges for students in our schools,'' Perez said. "Every student should have an opportunity to achieve their post-secondary dreams. Our students need to be prepared for the jobs and careers of tomorrow because they are our future leaders.''
Since 2002, Perez has served as director of the California Student Aid Commission's Central Coast Cal-SOAP (California Student Opportunity and Access Program) and is positioned at Allan Hancock College. Perez's duties include improving the flow of information about education and financial aid for students in secondary, post-secondary and community agencies.
SMJUHSD Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson said he believes Perez will be a sound and fair community leader and continue to make student success a top priority.
"We are excited to have Diana part of our governance team,'' Dr. Richardson said. "Her interest in student learning and experience makes her a perfect fit for the district."
Longtime school board member Dr. Jack Garvin agreed.
"I believe she will bring an excellent perspective to the board,'' Dr. Garvin said. "She is in a position at Hancock College to know how we have prepared our students for higher education. Her insights will be very valuable.''
Perez earned a master of arts degree in educational counseling and student services from Cal State University-Fresno in 1994. She received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara in 1992 and an AA degree in general education from Hartnell College in 1988.
Perez was a UCSB admissions counselor from 1996 to 2000 and in charge of increasing UC system admissions. Part of that time, she operated a four-year college transfer center at Santa Maria High School. From 2000 to 2002, Perez was a transfer counselor at Hancock College's University Center and performed career academic and career advisement duties.
Perez will face re-election in November.
— Kenny Klein is a media affairs coordinator for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.