June 13, 2022
Hilda Gomez, District Parent Liaison, Oxnard Union High School District
Every issue we feature stories of individuals and agencies that are making a difference in their communities. Today we are talking with Hilda Gomez, District Parent Liaison, Oxnard Union High School District.
How did you get interested in your work at the Oxnard Union High School District?
Hilda: I have always enjoyed working with people. I obtained my Bachelor’s in Sociology and got my first job after college working for Public Health as a Social Worker working with teen moms for a few years. I then decided to pursue a Master’s in Education in School Counseling. I began working as a family outreach specialist for Ventura Unified at a family center at one of their local elementary schools and then realized I really enjoyed working with our local families and helping them advocate for their children.
A new position opened up for Oxnard Union High School District as the District Parent Liaison and I decided to apply. I remember how nervous and exited I was when I interviewed. The possibility of working in my community with our local families and students and being able to do what naturally comes to me, helping people. Fourteen years later and I am still in the same position, loving what I do.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Hilda: In my position I am able to help our families navigate what can sometimes be a complicated system. In our city, elementary and high schools are two different school districts, two systems. For some families, this can be frustrating and discouraging. Even more so for some of our families with socioeconomic and language barriers. We are able to provide valuable information to families and students on different topics such as navigating the educational system, college and career, parenting tools and basic computer and technology workshops. All are offered in English and Spanish.
How are you specifically addressing issues of Health Equity in your work and your community? How are you making a difference?
Hilda: I am very fortunate to be working for a school district that offers a system of support to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our superintendent and administration team believe that each student should know their true capacity and believe in their gifts and abilities. We have available on our district website an online resource library available to our families to find resources that can be filtered by topic and grade level (K – 12).
Our district believes in creating enriching environments where schools must create a culture of collaboration, listen attentively to students and families, and understand the experience, knowledge, and culture students bring with them to school. I feel very fortunate to be working for a school district that shares these values.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Hilda: I hope that we can expand our services and be able to reach out to more families utilizing our different communication platforms. I want to be able to build stronger community partnerships to be able to share more information and resources to all our families district-wide. Another goal is to build strong leadership roles within our own district parents to assist in connecting to more parents.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Hilda: I come from a family of migrant workers who worked in our local strawberry fields. Our family lived through the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes having to work two jobs and having to leave us unattended at times to have to make ends meet. We had to move from different locations, usually garage units or studio apartments, struggling to find affordable housing.
Despite having struggled economically growing up, what I do remember is my family teaching us at a young age to have a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in whatever you do no matter where you come from. My parents didn’t have an academic background and didn't understand how the education system worked, but one thing they did know was that having an education was a must if you wanted to succeed.
I will always remember my parents providing me with what little financial support they could provide even if was just enough to pay for a schoolbook or supplies. It was through those actions and emotional encouragement that I learned to value my education and not take it for granted. I wasn’t academically prepared to start college right after high school, but I learned through hard work and dedication that I could accomplish whatever goals I set my mind to. I feel that due to my struggles and sacrifices in pursing my educational goals, it made me value my educational accomplishments even more. Being the first in my family to graduate college, I feel I am a representation of my family and culture, which I am very proud of.
It was then that I knew I had to help people just like my family, just like me. Sometimes we just need a little support and encouragement to make a difference in a world filled with so many obstacles. I hope I can continue to help others by providing the encouragement and support our families need.
If you could give a closing remark for or words of inspiration for the community during this time, what would it be?
Hilda: In a time of uncertainty, we need to work together in partnership stronger than ever before. Do things we have never done before and do things that might even feel uncomfortable at times, including learning new ways of doing things. If this pandemic has taught me anything it is that being in uncomfortable situations at times can also bring growth.
We must be open to different perspectives and be open to learning something new. Change is hard but it’s a great feeling when you are able to accomplish something you never thought you could and it empowers you to continue to grow.
Thank you, Hilda, for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change!