Article - Office of College Advancement

Tri-City native named Ohlone Citizen of Year

By Wes Bowers.

Thursday, March 8, 2007—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

Gloria Fuerniss.Gloria Fuerniss.

One of the first individuals to set foot on the Ohlone College campus in the mid-1960s has been named Citizen of the Year by the Ohlone College Foundation.

Foundation Executive Assistant Thomas Hsu said Gloria Villasana-Fuerniss was named this year's top citizen because she had been with the college from the beginning.

"I was the school's first student worker," Villasana-Fuerniss said. "I helped get the library ready for its opening, and did some clerical work on other parts of campus. I had to make a lot of appointments for people because there was no one else there."

Villasana-Fuerniss said when the college finally did open its doors in 1966, she was given a variety of part-time duties including main receptionist, registrar, and athletic department receptionist.

A student at Newark Memorial High School at the time, she said she worked at Ohlone for a couple hours a day, and during the summer, was given a 40-hour work week with various duties.

She said she ended up attending Ohlone, after coaxing from administrators.

"I really liked working there, and someone asked if I had given college any thought," she said. "I told them I hadn't really, and they told me if I liked working there, I should attend the college."

Before she knew it, Villasana-Fuerniss enrolled at Ohlone as a business major. But she said she wasn't limited to classes.

"I got involved with student government, the paper and other activities because there weren't a lot of students at Ohlone at the time. I guess you could say I was a Ôwilling participant!'"

Villasana-Fuerniss said she learned a lot from all her experiences at Ohlone, but soon the time came to graduate.

She went to work at a local credit company for about a year before joining the staff at Fremont Bank.

Additionally, she became a founding member of the Ohlone College Foundation in 1975.

Later, she was elected to the Ohlone College Board of Trustees in 1979, where she served until 1996.

Villasana-Fuerniss still remains active with the Ohlone community, as she chairs the annual Ohlone Golf Tournament.

She is also the vice chair of the foundation's Board of Directors.

Professionally, she is still with Fremont Bank as its vice president.

Born in what was once known as Alvarado here in the Tri-City area, Villasana-Fuerniss now resides in Fremont with her husband. He, as well as her 25-year-old son, also graduated from Ohlone.

Villasana-Fuerniss said the college gives great opportunities to students who aren't sure where to start their post-high school life, or to people looking to restart.

"When someone is thinking about what to do for a career, you can think of Ohlone," she said. "If you're 18, and you don't know what to do, take some classes at Ohlone. Try it. It's a good way to go."

Villasana-Fuerniss said Ohlone's instructors and administration have always been great.

"The college has a really good place in our community," she said. "If I hadn't gone to Ohlone, I wouldn't be in a position I'm in today."

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