Cuesta College is set to honor nine individuals on April 1 at the 2016 Awards Luncheon. Four Cuesta College alumni representing four decades of the college’s history will be recognized, along with four volunteers who have served the college and community selflessly in a variety of ways, and one faculty member, who will be honored for excellence inside and outside the classroom. The event will take place from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., on the college’s San Luis Obispo Campus in building 5400, room 5401. Tickets to attend are $20 per person; please contact the Cuesta College Foundation Office at (805) 546-3279 by March 25 to RSVP.

2016 Honored Alumni

Now in its 28th year, the Honored Alumni awards were established in 1989 to recognize outstanding professional achievements and service of former Cuesta College students. For more information on Cuesta College’s Honored Alumni program, please click here .

Dale Gomer: 1966-1968 / Current president of Paso Robles Waste & Recycling, longtime Central Coast resident and leader in environmental responsibility. Dale Gomer played football for Cuesta College, transferred to UCSB with a football scholarship, served as an Army Airborne Medic, and became general manager of the family business in 1984. “I think Cuesta is a tremendous asset to our community,” said Gomer. “The Cuesta faculty give students the tools to move forward and be ready for the next realm of education. It really provides a great foundation.”

John Alan Connerley: 1973-1980 / Former U.S. diplomatic corps Foreign Service officer, legislative assistant to a U.S. Congressman, and Cuesta College instructor. Currently, John Connerley is a Central Coast small business owner specializing in music, entertainment and public relations. “As an Arroyo Grande High School graduate, Cuesta was the perfect place for me to take my first steps in college life,” said Connerley. “I found it to be both a welcoming and a challenging institution, a place where the learning process is nurtured by hometown roots sunk deeply into a robust academic environment.”

Leonard Grant:  1983-1986 / As the principal of RRM Design Group, Leonard Grant has over 20 years of experience as an architect in San Luis Obispo County. Grant is a member of the local and state chapters of the American Institute of Architects, the Home Builders Association, the Arroyo Grande Hospital Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. “My mission in life is to help create as much housing as possible,” said Grant. “When I graduated from San Luis Obispo High School in 1983, I was not ready for the vigorous architectural education, so Cuesta College was a perfect place to mature and learn to collaborate.”

Brandon Bond: 1993-1995 / Current administrative director of Stanford Health Care, and the Stanford Children’s Health, Office of Emergency Management. Brandon Bond is a Certified Business Continuity Professional and serves as the Safety Officer and Emergency Medical Technician on the U.S. Public Health Services, Bay Area Disaster Medical Assistance Team. He has an extensive history of responding to natural disasters, including the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Katrina and Rita. “During one of my semesters at Cuesta, I took the Emergency Medical Technician course,” said Bond. “That class set the stage for what has become a career in emergency management. Without the foundation that Cuesta College provided, I would not have been successful in my educational journey and career.”


2016 Volunteer Awards

Dr. Frank Martinez Superintendent/President’s Award: Joan Gellert-Sargen

First awarded in 2001, this award is given in recognition of the accomplishments of a community volunteer who has contributed time and talent generously, working in partnership with Cuesta faculty or staff resulting in an achievement that might not have happened otherwise.

Joan Gellert-Sargen is a longtime supporter of the performing arts and in January of 2014, she set up the Cynthia Rose Sargen Memorial Endowment in honor of her late daughter who also shared a passion for the arts. The endowment helps support and maintain the college’s Cultural and Performing Arts Center (CPAC). “I feel strongly that this is a wonderful facility,” said Gellert-Sargen. “It’s available to students and their classes, and I want to help keep it functioning at its best.” Gellert-Sargen is also an active member of the Friends of the CPAC. Gellert-Sargen has also received the Circle of Service Award given by the Family Care Network and the Community Service Award, presented by the Avila Beach Civic Association.

John Schaub Student Volunteer Award: Chanda Miller

First awarded in 2001, this award is given to a student whose community volunteer work best exemplifies the high standards established by the college’s first dean of students whose trailblazing work in creating programs for student success has helped thousands of students achieve their goals. 

Cuesta College student Chanda Miller has served the community through volunteer efforts with the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter, Mercy Church Food bank, the Dream Center (focusing on anti-human trafficking and gang prevention), and Mercy Church Services. She is also a caregiver for In-Home Support Services. According to her nominator, “Chanda’s community volunteer work exemplifies the high standards established by this award. The work she does impacts the lives of many people struggling with current cultural issues.”

Dr. Merlin E. Eisenbise Service in the Classroom Award: Dr. Jeffrey Gervasi

First awarded in 2002, this award recognizes direct service in the classroom which extends our ability to help students. It is given in honor of the District’s first Superintendent/President, Dr. Merlin E. Eisenbise. 

Mathematics professor Dr. Jeffrey Gervasi frequently volunteers his time to offer free math tutoring to veterans at Cuesta College; he offered regular tutoring hours twice per week during the fall 2015 sand spring 2016 semesters. According to one student, “I have received help from Dr. Gervasi on many occasions. His help had a direct result in my improved grades. His patience, time and expertise are highly appreciated among the veteran population at Cuesta College.”

Betty Nielsen Volunteer of the Year Award: Lyn Baker

First awarded in 1995, this award is given in memory of College Trustee Betty Nielsen, considered the epitome of volunteerism. She served the community and the college unselfishly for many years as an exemplary volunteer in several capacities. 

Lyn Baker currently serves as the development chair of the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale, is a volunteer with the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly, has served as a volunteer for Cal Poly’s first capital campaign effort, and a variety of other organizations. Baker and her husband Jim have also supported the Cuesta College Foundation over the years, contributing to the success of the Theater Arts Building. Baker is a founding member of the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries and has also served on the San Luis Obispo Community Foundation.


2016 Faculty Award

Peter and M’May Diffley Award for Faculty Excellence: Jeff Grover

This award recognizes a faculty member for excellence in teaching and one or more of the following: community and/or campus activism; involvement in environmental or ecological projects; involvement in the arts; and special motivation to science students. 

According to his nominator, geology professor Jeff Grover works hard inside and outside the classroom. He recently reintroduced a historical geology class required for the Cuesta College Geology Transfer Degree, led a team of students to the Grand Canyon, and regularly plans field trips to Death Valley and Yosemite as a part of his physical geology course. According to a former student, “He is the reason I am doing geology for my major. The way he presents the history of the Earth through his class is nothing short of inspiring and his enthusiasm is unmatched by any other instructor.”