Lookout Update: Cabrillo trustees unanimously appoint Martha Vega to governing board

The Cabrillo College campus in Aptos
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Watsonville High School teacher Martha Vega will represent the city on Cabrillo’s board, taking the seat vacated by Felipe Hernandez after he was elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

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An update on Cabrillo College's governing board

The Cabrillo College board of trustees has a new member: Martha Vega.

During a special meeting Monday night, the board voted unanimously to appoint Vega — a Watsonville High School teacher — to serve through the next election, in November 2024.

Vega and two other applicants sought the appointment when former trustee Felipe Hernandez resigned from his seat after he was elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

She’ll be representing Trustee Area V, which includes the city of Watsonville and the southern portion of Freedom.

Dozens of people turned out for the meeting at Cabrillo’s Watsonville Center. During the gathering, officials interviewed Vega, as well as the other two applicants: Manuel Bersamin, the director of a student retention program at Hartnell College in Salinas, and Rebecca Garcia, a former Watsonville mayor and ex-Cabrillo trustee.

Martha Vega.
(Via Martha Vega)

“I’m so grateful that we had three highly qualified candidates apply for the Trustee Area V provisional appointment, each of whom brought their own skill sets and experience,” said Adam Spickler, Cabrillo governing board chair. “After a long meeting that included an outpouring of community support, I am very happy with our unanimous decision to provisionally appoint Martha Vega, and am looking forward to working with her to advance the success of our students and the college.”

In an interview with Lookout, Vega shared her thoughts on how to approach declining student enrollment and housing, as well as the college’s name change. To improve enrollment, she said the college should work with stakeholders to reverse a 2013 decision by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to restrict who can repeat physical education and visual arts courses. She said that body’s decision contributed to declining enrollment and the policy should be repealed.

Regarding whether she agreed with the board’s decision to change the college’s name, Vega declined to comment but emphasized the importance of getting community input.

As for housing, Vega said she supports the college’s proposal to collaborate with UC Santa Cruz on a 624-bed housing project. She added that faculty housing should also be prioritized.

Vega has taught career technical education criminal justice classes at Watsonville High School — her alma mater — since 2004. She was also a non-sworn staff member of the Watsonville Police Department.

In addition, she serves on the City of Watsonville planning commission and the Pajaro Valley Arts Committee and is a member of the Santa Cruz chapter of the NAACP.

Vega attended Cabrillo College and has degrees from Union Institute & University and Pacific Oaks College, as well as a master of arts in leadership degree from St. Mary’s College of Moraga.

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