Former California Senator Jean Fuller leads a discussion on women in leadership

Amir Guyton, Reporter

Amir Guyton
(Left to Right) Cynthia Giumarra, Rosalina Rivera, Bianca Cavazos, Sonya Christian, Shannon Grove, and Jean Fuller.

The Levan Center at Bakersfield College hosted Women in Leadership, a panel that’s meant to empower, encourage and inspire women to pursue leadership positions by having local women in power discuss their influences, challenges, and successes along with words of advice for young women on March 1.

The panel included a powerhouse of local women such as Former California Senator Jean Fuller, Taft Union High School District Superintendent Blanca Cavazos, Delano Union Elementary School District Superintendent Rosalina Rivera, State Senator Shannon Grove, and local attorney Cynthia Giumarra.

The panel kicked off with BC’s president, Sonya Christian, giving a brief introduction and explaining what was to be expected of the panel and eventually opening up the discussion to panel moderator Fuller.

Fuller gave a bit of background on her upbringing expressing that “at the time it wasn’t really common for women to have a degree or attend college.”

Fuller then asked all the panelist to introduce themselves about what inspired them and their work.

All the panelist had very different stories, but all were stories of women who had strived to move upwards in society and make a change for other women alike who were looking to fulfill bigger positions in a male-dominated world where very few women held the positions.

Moderator Jean Fuller and BC President Sonya Christian.

Grove started off by speaking about how she ended up joining the U.S. military and eventually returned to U.S. soil and was contacted by U.S. Rep. Kevin Mccarthy and encouraged to run for a seat in the state assembly winning by a 78 percent vote on her behalf. Grove soon transitioned over to running for state Senate after running for assembly for six years.

Bianca Cavazos story started with her parents who were farm workers and moved from Mexico to the U.S. in search of a better life when she was only three years old and as a child of farm workers she grew up working in the fields.

Cavazos graduated high school from Arvin High School at 16 and went to Cal State Bakersfield soon after eventually to become a superintendent of the Taft Union High School District which Cavazos called ironically.

“I wanted out of high school as quickly as possible because I didn’t find it to be relevant,” Cavazos said.

As the panelist began to trickle down to the end of the panel they were all asked to give advice to the young women who were aspiring to be leaders as well.

“I believe that all female college students and all women could assume a role in leadership at any time…leadership isn’t a position it is something you just do,” Rivera said.