Mary Jane Sanchez-Fulton has received numerous state and national award for her advocacy in higher education. Recently honored by NlWB women of Excellence -2017. Served as the first Latina Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Desert Community College District. She is the CA representatives for the American Association of Community College Trustees, Board member of Riverside County RDA Oversight committee for the city of Indio and Desert Hot springs. She has served for over 15 years as professor/educator for local universities and community colleges. Strong corporate background, principled thinking; a person who continues bring new vision to the future of College of the Desert.
Who was your political mentor – someone who guided and supported you – someone who prepared you for public service. What kind of advice did they give you that was the most important/useful to you?
Interesting question. At the time I began to run, there no other Latinas in office. I had no political mentor, because in the back of mind I didn’t want to owe anybody anything. However who truly inspired really was my mom who motivated me because she said I couldn’t win because I was too honest and nice and because I cared. So I ran to prove her that integrity still exists.
What was the one thing no one told you about being an elected official that you wish you’d known before you were elected?
The one thing nobody told me – How expensive it is to get elected and re-elected.
Describe a project you spearheaded or supported that you’re proud of. Why was it successful and what did you learn from it that helped you be a better policymaker?
As the youngest trustee member, and first Latina elected as chair, there are many projects I have spearheaded in my 1st term as elected. My top 4 that I am most proud are about access.
- Creating Community College Tuition free to Coachella valley residents.
- Creating a new and free bus line to the college, so students can go to work and school.
- Creating A food pantry for my students.
- Building a new Campus for the underserved community and the city.
As an elected official you must balance your job, your duties as an elected official and family obligations, not to mention trying to find personal time for yourself. How do you balance all these duties and obligations?
You can’t really balance anything as an elected official. As an elected you automatically make personal and financial sacrifices. The secret is hard work. Secret to success is having family members that support your dreams, not sabotage them. And that you truly have a passion to serve.
What was the most memorable day of your life?
Most memorable day of my life: Getting married to a man that believed and supported me and not belittled my political aspirations and attending Women’s Conference in Beijing, China – ” A woman’s right is a human right.”
(This article first appeared in the Southern California Latino Policy Center)