5th Annual Celebration for a Day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women

Social Justice Award honoree, Rachel Aguilar, receives flowers from her presenter Roberto Corella, and Director of Women's Resource Center, Adrienne Sims. Courtesy of Jie Huang
Social Justice Award honoree, Rachel Aguilar, receives flowers from her presenter Roberto Corella, and Director of Women’s Resource Center, Adrienne Sims.
Courtesy of Jie Huang
“Mujeres Unidas” (Women Together)In honor of Women’s Week, UCR held its 5th Annual Celebration for a day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women Studies. The March 6 ceremony was split into two parts. The first half of the night honored the achievements of five exceptional graduate and undergraduate female students in areas of leadership and civil engagement, social justice and overcoming adversity. The second half featured the night’s keynote speaker Judge Raquel Marquez-Britsch, the first Latina judge on the Riverside Superior Court.

UCR’s own Dr. Pamela Clute commenced the ceremony by acknowledging all the women that were being recognized for their academic success as well as the Women’s Resource Center for putting the entire ceremony together. She said, “You know, 150 years ago, women were not allowed to attend college…Today, women represent 59 percent of the nation’s college population, and six out of 10 graduate degrees in 2012 were awarded to women. Women go to college, women excel and the evidence is right here in this room tonight.”

Clute then presented the lavender roses given to the five recipients. She explained to the audience that the lavender rose represented “The color of power… Recipients, this is going to remind you everyday of the power you have to excel and achieve. The power you have to be a role model and mentor to others.”

Next, female UCR students were presented with a plaque and bouquet of flowers. The six honorable students awarded were Leila Magistado, Joanna Jimenez, Rachel Aguilar, Robyn Dahl, Ana Lara
and Elia Burrero. The six honorees were women from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds that faced myriads of obstacles in order to succeed academically. Some overcame severe life threatening illnesses. Others overcame language and cultural barriers as they traveled from other countries to the United States in order to obtain higher education. All six were service-oriented and were ultimately commemorated for their drive to achieve excellence.

After two beautifully sung a cappella songs by UCR’s own Not So Sharp music group, Marquez-Bristch gave her speech. She began by explaining to the audience that her talk represented more than an incredible life story. Rather than acknowledging her own personal achievements or success, she explained that her life gave voice to so many others with similar life experiences.

Marquez-Britsch explained that throughout her childhood, her family faced a series of obstacles since both her parents were none-educated Mexican immigrants living in Sacramento. Throughout her teenage years, she had to work multiple jobs at once to help sustain her family. It was through these tiresome years that she claimed to value the concept of hard work.

In her late teens, Marquez-Britsch was studying in a library during the day, since she had to work the graveyard shift at Denny’s during nights, when she overheard a Mock Trial taking place next to her. As the trial continued, she overheard two prosecutors correct a student’s appeal several times. Out of frustration and lack of sleep (brought on by balancing school and work) she eventually walked up to the student and said, “Tracy! do it like this.” The two prosecutors were greatly impressed with her delivery and offered her a position on the team right away. With her as a new recruit, the team won the county competition and went on onto state finals. Since then, Marquez-Britsch went on to graduate from UCLA Law School. She was a lawyer for several years before becoming appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as Superior Judge for Riverside County on Dec. 27, 2011.

When asked if there was any advice that she can give any student on campus with hopes and desires to achieve as much success she had, she simply said, “Don’t beat yourself up. You are your own worst enemy… This might sound cliché but it’s the best advice I can give any student because I’ve been where you guys are right now and know how hard it can be. Never quit and work hard.”

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