Estella Acuña, UC Riverside’s Chicano Student Programs director, has been named Woman of the Year by state Sen. Richard Roth for his district.
Acuña has been with the program since 1996, joining as a student assistant and becoming director seven years later.
Roth, D-Riverside, described her as a powerful advocate for the Chicano/Latino community who has opened opportunities for thousands of people by helping students earn their college degrees.
“Estella has been making a measurable difference in people’s lives for more than two decades,” Roth said. “Her remarkable work at UC Riverside has touched the lives of countless students – many of whom are first-generation scholars. Just ask any of the young men and women she has mentored, they’ll tell you without hesitation that Estella is a fighter who never gives up.”
Acuña was the first in her family to go to college, earning her Associate of Arts degree from Riverside City College before transferring to UC Riverside where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chicano Studies.
She said she was honored to be named as Woman of the Year for the 31st state Senate District.
“Many people have helped me, mentored me and paved the way,” Acuña said. “I feel a responsibility to do the same for future generations. It is our duty to continue to mentor, advocate and lead by example to continue to fight for access, social justice, equity and inclusion in higher education and beyond. It is our student’s resiliency who inspire me on a daily basis.”