Allan Hancock College Trustee Alejandra Enciso Medina.
Alejandra Enciso Medina of Guadalupe is sworn in as a member of the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees during a special meeting Tuesday night. She fills a seat left vacant by the resignation of Larry Lahr. (Allan Hancock College photo)

A Guadalupe resident who graduated from Allan Hancock College has been chosen to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees, creating history in the process.

After interviewing the two candidates during a special meeting Tuesday, the board voted 3-1 to appoint Alejandra Enciso Medina to the empty Area 3 term. Gregory Pensa cast the lone no vote.

The seat became vacant in April with the resignation of longtime board member Larry Lahr, who moved outside of Area 3, which encompasses southwestern Santa Maria and the city of Guadalupe.

Board president Jeffery Hall along with members Hilda Zacarias and Suzanne Levy voted for Medina’s appointment.

“I think the time now is asking us to really stretch who are as a board in terms of our connection and our relationships and, for lack of a better word, our tentacles into the communities where students are,” board member Hilda Zacarias said. “For that reason, I do feel Alejandra sets herself apart just enough.”

She is the first trustee from Guadalupe, and her appointment creates a board with majority of women for the first time in the college’s 100-year history, according to Hancock representatives.

Medina and businessman Eric Melsheimer, president of Melfred Borzall, had applied for vacancy.  

“How lucky for us that we have, I believe, two amazing candidates. I have a hard time having one outrank the other in that I think they are both uniquely qualified to serve with us,” Zacarias said after the interview of the two candidates.

In making the appointment, she said, they needed to think about what perspectives each candidate would bring to benefit the college. 

“This is a tough choice for me,” Pensa said before the vote. “It’s really a very hard choice. I see assets on both sides.”

Pensa noted Melsheimer’s involvement in the community college and broader business community. Two Orcutt educators also urged his appointment to the board.

Medina, who was sworn into office Tuesday, will finish the remainder of Lahr’s term, which ends in late 2022. 

She, and other candidates who live in Area 3, will have the option of running for the four-year term in the November 2022 election.

Medina works as a lead bilingual reproductive health and life skills educator for the nonprofit CommUnify of Santa Barbara County and is the co-owner of Revolution Choreography in Santa Maria.

“We are very grateful that a community member like Alejandra stepped up and applied to fill this seat and help the board continue the important work of changing the odds for our students,” Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said. “Her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion make her an excellent addition to the board and the college.”

She also serves as a board member for the Future Leaders of America and Danza Azteca Coaxochitl, and serves as a volunteer educator for H.O.P.E. Santa Maria.

Medina is a first-generation Latinx-American and also a first-generation college graduate. 

After graduating from Hancock with an associate’s degree in liberal arts, she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from California State University, Northridge. 

“My lifelong goal is to educate others about my culture and advocate for equality and justice,” Medina said. “I could not have done this without the support of the community and all the mentors I have had along the way.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.