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Focus on People


The work of two Mission College art students and an LAMC alum hangs proudly over the streets of Sylmar these days. The students – Mario Torres, Israel Velasco and alumnus Carla Fergadiotti – designed four large medallions that are currently on display on light posts throughout the community. Their work is part of the “Percent for Art” project sponsored by the Sylmar Medical Center. Prior to casting the work, the students took part in design workshops, discussing themes based on the history and people of Sylmar. The installations are on Foothill Boulevard near Polk Street; on Hubbard Street near Gladstone; on Polk Street near Glenoaks Boulevard; and on Glenoaks near Hubbard Street.

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Ten Mission College students have been selected to receive the prestigious TELACU scholarship. Each student will receive $500, as well as counseling, leadership training, classes in time management and other subjects designed to help the scholars succeed in college. The scholarship is jointly funded by TELACU (The East Los Angeles Community Union) and the Mission College Foundation. Scholarship winners are Sandra Casillas, Sidia Castillo, Lili Chavez, Guadalupe Herrera. David Manzano, Manuel Navarro, Jose-Luis Ramirez, Simon Rodriguez, Sandra Sedano de Baro and Edith Sotelo.
The U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan can use as many quartermasters and supply sergeants as they can get. That's Myriam Mekelburg's philosophy, anyway. The Mission College sociology instructor is collecting donated items from college staff and the public to send to troops overseas - including her reservist husband currently doing duty in Iraq. Mekelburg says even the smallest items can make a soldier's day, especially goods that are hard to get overseas. Through October she is collecting non-perishable snacks, toiletries, games and athletic gear (e.g., soccer balls). Seasonal items such as Christmas decorations and blank greeting cards are also a good idea, she said. Items may be placed in boxes located near the faculty lounge in the Instructional Building. Or contact Mekelburg at
Former Mission College art student Chau Thuy Huynh is hard at work preparing an exhibition for next spring. Huynh recently was named a Haas Scholar at UC Berkeley, allowing her to devote a year to preparing the exhibit. Huynh is creating an art project that encompasses traditional Vietnamese culture and mythology through the mediums of drawing, sculpture, embroidery, and American quilt making. Huynh recently wrote to her former instructor and mentor, Barbara Kerwin, with news of the Haas scholarship, adding “I will graduate next spring with majors in art and social welfare...Your classes at Mission College offered me a good foundation in art.”
Teachers, like parents, are supposed to set good examples. If so, business instructor Vilma Bernal has set the bar high for her students. Bernal recently received dual honors from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Bernal was chosen as one of 40 top business individuals under the age of 40, and she was a nominee for the Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” award. Bernal was praised for linking education and business, in particular her successful grant applications that created training programs for low income people and the unemployed.
Ivan Becerra, former standout player on the Mission College soccer team, continues to make headlines. As the Los Angeles Daily News reported in its September 27, 2005 “Chatter” column, Becerra was named Big West Conference Player of the Week after scoring two goals in one game. Becerra, a student-athlete at UC Santa Barbara, is one of the leading scorers in the conference.
Walter Bortman, the new director of college facilities, began his duties last month. He comes to Mission from Pierce College where he served as general foreman and facilities/administrative services liaison for bond implementation. In addition to his work in the Los Angeles Community College District, he also served as electrical supervisor for the Port of Long Beach Harbor Maintenance division. Prior to moving to California, he worked for 32 years as an electrician, maintenance supervisor, and superintendent of maintenance for the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation.
Chef Rudy Garcia was awarded the President's Medallion at the recent national conference of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) in San Antonio. President's Medallion recipients are selected by the national president in recognition of contributions to the enhancement of ACF, the largest and most prestigious organization dedicated to professional chefs in the United States.