Honored Alumni Awards 2017 and 2018
Attended Cuesta: 2001 - 2003
The youngest Cuesta College Honored Alumni Award recipient ever, Dr. Sarah Ashley accomplished incredible things since graduating from Cuesta in 2003 at the age of 14-years-old. In 2008, Dr. Ashley earned a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz and then a Medical Doctorate Degree from U.C. Davis in 2014. Now working in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Dr. Ashley is a Global Health and Leadership Fellow.
Attended Cuesta: 1988 - 1998
Heidi Harmon graduated with a degree in early childhood education from Cuesta College, followed by a BA in liberal studies from Cal Poly. Mayor Harmon worked as an early childhood educator in SLO. She became more and more involved in the community, and eventually became the director of the climate advocacy group SLO 350 and a point person with Protect SLO - Stop Oil Trains. In 2016, Harmon was elected mayor of San Luis Obispo City on the platform of being a reform-minded leader, passionate about keeping the voice and concern of local residents at the forefront of everything she does.
Attended Cuesta: 1968 - 1970
A third-generation resident of Atascadero, it seems only fitting that Tom O’Malley, prolifically involved in the community and local government, would one day become the city’s mayor. Serving in the role since 2012, the Cuesta graduate has spent decades in public service. He is a current member of the Atascadero City Schools Committee, Atascadero Tourism Business Improvement District Board, Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, and more. In addition, O’Malley owns and operates the Portola Inn in Atascadero and is a retired Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Attended Cuesta: 1994 - 1997
Maria Spaeth is a first generation Mexican-American Latina, born in Sacramento. After graduating with Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts and then double-majoring at Sonoma State University in Spanish and Latin American History, Spaeth launched her teaching career in Los Angeles with a passion to serve underrepresented. In 2007, Spaeth was named Teacher of the Year by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Currently a 2nd grade teacher at Grover Beach Elementary School, Spaeth works with many low-income, Spanish-speaking students, and encourages them to follow their dreams, just as she did.
Attended Cuesta: 1981-1984, 1987, 1992, 1993
A well-known contemporary multi-media painter and sculptor, Ted holds three associate degrees from Cuesta College (general studies, two-dimensional art, and three-dimensional art) as well as a Bachelor’s in Fine Art Degree from San Francisco’s Art Institute. Today, Ted resides in Los Osos and runs his own art studio, Emrick Studios.
Attended Cuesta: 1971-1973
Jim taught American literature, modern world literature, cultural anthropology, U.S. history, and European history for 30 years at Mission College Preparatory and Arroyo Grande High School. Since his retirement, Jim has written two books on South County History; World War II Arroyo Grande and Patriot Graves: Discovering a California Town’s Civil War Heritage.
Attended Cuesta: 1965, 1990
Frank began working in the public sector in 1996 as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Paso Robles, was elected to the City of Paso Robles as a Council Member in 1998, and then as the first elected mayor for the City of Paso Robles in 2000. He served as mayor for eight years. Frank then represented District One on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors from 2009 to 2016.