Comision Honorifica Mexican Mexicana has named Obdulia Guzman Alvarado as the Porterville Cinco De Mayo Grand Marshal for 2020-2021.
Guzman Alvarado participated in the Cinco De Mayo pageant in 1974 and became the event's first princess.
Alvarado said she never forgot that experience in 1974 and it made an impact on the goals she set for the future. Her goal was to become an educator to make a difference in children's lives.
She graduated from Monache in 1976 where she attended Porterville College at the same time while participating in many clubs and activities. She was accepted to UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz and received a four-year scholarship to further her education.
She attended UC Santa Cruz where she earned her bachelor's in liberal studies with a minor in cultural anthropology in 1980. She also earned her teaching credential with an emphasis on bilingual education.
She was offered her first teaching position in the Porterville Unified School District as a second grade teacher at Olive Street School. When asked why she returned to Porterville instead of staying in Santa Cruz, Alvarado responded:
“I promised my parents that I would return home and help the community that had given our family the hope and resources to reach our full potential and helped get one step closer towards achieving the American dream.”
It was her parents' vision that led her to work hard in the fields and in the classroom. “She had the thirst for knowledge and embraced it with faith and courage throughout her journey,” the Comision stated. “Her many experiences shaped and refined her philosophy.”
Alvarado's career in education spans more than 38 years in the San Joaquin Valley and Butte County.
As a migrant child herself, Alvarado's focus was on migrant children who were close to her heart. Her goal and passion was to make a difference in the life of others, no matter what their cultural background was or where they came from.
The Comision stated Alvarado possesses strong interpersonal and human relation abilities, adding she has built relationships in Porterville and surrounding communities. “Obdulia values culture, customs and traditions and is committed to improving the life of our multicultural community,” it stated. “Mrs. Alvarado worked passionately to inspire others to seek their dreams.”
The Comision also stated Alvarado has always been a visionary leader, dedicating her life to change and devoting her time to improving the life of all children.
Alvarado currently serves as the Burton School District Board president. “Obdulia's communication reaches out to community leaders as well as state and federal organizations so as to secure a better today and tomorrow for all children,” the Comision stated.
“Obdulia is a unique individual that symbolizes and represents her parents' rich cultural roots and their commitment in helping their children achieve the American dream while helping others.”
Alvarado recalled her father's words of wisdom, “Each time one of you succeeds, I succeed because together we are one.”
Alvarado retired in 2019, “leaving a solid legacy of genuine service to others and dedication to the well-being of children, their parents and the community,” the Comision stated.
Alvarado, the daughter of Don Heron Guzman Villalpando and Dona Aurora Ayala Herrera, was born September 5, 1957 in Jeruco, Michoacan, Mexico.
Her family immigrated to California in 1964. Don Heron, along with Don Jesus, his father-in-law, participated in the Bracero program between Mexico and the U.S.
They worked in the fields in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, Oregon and other states harvesting crops. During this time, Alvarado's father saw the richness of the land, the abundance of work in the fields, the schools and all the benefits of living in America.
Once Don Heron secured a sponsor, full time employment and housing for the family, he brought his family to America to provide them with the chance to pursue the American dream.
Alvarado's family moved to the Woodville Labor Camp and eventually purchased a home in Woodville.
The Guzman children attended school and worked the fields after school, on weekends and holidays. Alvarado and the family worked out in the fields until it was too dark to see the fruits and vegetables.
During the summer, the family migrated throughout California, Oregon and Washington cultivating and harvesting crops.
“It was an experience of a lifetime,” Alvarado said. “One that had a great impact on my future goals. It really made a difference.”
Don Heron continued to remind the family, “You will do one of two things. You are going to go to school to earn a career worthy of you or you will work in the fields of California beside us and suffer as a farm worker with limited rights.”
Now, Alvarado's motto is and always will be “Si Se Puede,” the motto of United Farmer Workers, which means “Yes, it can be done.”
“I am humbled,” said Alvarado about being selected as grand marshal. Never in a million years did a expect such an honor — 47 years a ago I was a Cinco De Mayo First Princess.
“This recognition honors all the individuals who made me what I am today — all who were great role models, hard workers and dedicated community leaders. I thank them for their dedication to maintain our multicultural grassroots.”
CHMA proudly honors Obdulia Guzman Alvarado for her dedication and commitment to improving the lives of others in our community,” said CHMA Board of Directors chairman Roberto de la Rosa Martell.
CINCO DE MAYO FIESTAS
CHMA will hold its Cinco De Mayo Fiestas at 6 p.m. Saturday at the CHMA Community Center, 466 E. Putnam. In compliance with COVID-19 regulations the event will be by invitation only. For event invitations call Teresa de la Rosa, 784-1121.