The establishment of the Mexican American Hall of Fame (MAHF) traces its beginning back to 1989 when it began under the auspices of the then Mexican American Chamber of Commerce. It came to fruition when the original committee voted to initiate and induct nine members of the Hispanic community into the Hall of Fame in 1990. Since that date, 142 outstanding individuals who have made significant and extraordinary contributions to the advancement of Hispanics in San Joaquin County have been honored for their dedication and service.
Induction into the Mexican American Hall of Fame demonstrates a wealth of deserving candidates who reflect the importance of being active in the community in order to bring about change and are a significant part of the social, cultural, economic and political fabric within the County. In addition, MAHF aims to hold up to our youth these positive role models that they can emulate in developing their self-esteem and identity formation.
This year’s 2017 two inductees honored are Claudia Moreno-Rabago for Education and Rudy Gonzales for Military. Also honored, receiving MAHF’s first Volunteer of the Year award, Leticia De Santiago.
These outstanding and dedicated individuals will be honored at the Mexican American Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the Elkhorn Country Club, Stockton CA.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Claudia migrated to the US with her parents in 1978 at age 12, settling in Stockton.
Over the years, she has advocated for at-risk students and their parents in our Southside community, helping to establish collaboration between outside agencies and the schools. After 25 years of service at Edison High, she spearheaded programs like the Drug Free Coalition, Comprehensive Student Support Program, Summer Home Outreach, and the Summer Adventure in Learning program. She also co-wrote a grant that would pilot the first School Resource Officer Program that paid for a part-time Probation Officer and on-site peacekeeper, and along with local law enforcement developed a speakers’ bureau that held safety-awareness and educational workshops for parents and students. Claudia wrote the annual CSS Grant that recently earned the school the “Outstanding Achievement School” award by the Department of Education. Recently, Claudia worked with University of Pacific’s Latino Outreach Program and the LULAC 2060 council in obtaining the Ford Driving Grant providing tutoring, mentorship and leadership skills to English learners at Edison High.
She has served as co-coordinator of SUSD’s district-wide Reclaiming Our Youth program in 2009. She coordinates and manages UOP’s Pacific Academia de Matematicas, and serves as community member in the California Department of Education State Parent Advisory for the Migrant Program. Currently, and has served on the the Board of Trustees at San Joaquin Delta College, Director for Catholic Charities, Trustee for the San Joaquin Calaveras Central Labor Council, and is President of the California Employees Association, Delta Valley Chapter #821.
She has facilitated numerous FAFSA, financial-aid workshops, an annual event at UOP. She has been presenter and keynote speaker for numerous conferences, including the Migrant Education Region 23 Program. Lastly, she teaches adult religious education at Cathedral of Annunciation also serving as a lector and co-coordinator of its youth tutoring program! She has earned a BA in Liberal Studies and in Psychology and an MA in Education.
Leticia De Santiago
Born in El Salvador, Leticia immigrated to the United States in 1968, graduating from Oakland Technical High School and the City College of San Francisco. Her job at the San Antonio Clinic in Oakland —a community health center rooted in the concepts of wellness, prevention and patient-centered care— exposed her to the need for caring for others who cannot afford medical attention. This became the foundation of her lifelong passion that De Santiago brought with her to Stockton.
She started her first volunteer Senior Program in 2008, with five seniors but that quickly grew to seventy. Alternating between work and volunteering did not stop her from serving her beloved seniors. Not only did she cook for them, often paying for the food from her own pocket, but also drove them to medical and legal appointments and even field trips to casinos! To date, De Santiago works tirelessly to feed 145 seniors on a daily basis. De Santiago has taken a life experience and turned it into a life time career helping those who can least help themselves, our seniors.
Rudy T. Gonzales
Rudy is a Vietnam Veteran. Though he survived the war, he returned home scarred by traumatic events, and for years has suffered the effects of Agent Orange. In 2007, he was recognized with medals for his military service by Congressman, Jerry McNerney. Born and raised in Stockton’s “Barrio del Chivo”, he worked as a longshoreman for the Port of Stockton.
He attended Delta College, University of Pacific, and Humphrey’s College, majoring in Business and Finance. He has assisted low-income, Hispanic students at Delta College with filing income taxes and continues to advise students and their families on financial matters.
As an artist, Rudy displayed his art at Chavez Library to educate people on the sacrifices that veterans have made for our country and regularly speaks to many groups on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the effects of Agent Orange. A recent exhibit of his work is titled appropriately titled “Freedom is not free.”
Rudy serves as an assistant coach for San Joaquin Valley’s YMCA, giving him the opportunity to talk to parents, family and youth, where he stresses the values of respect, honesty, integrity, and self-discipline.
Rudy has dedicated his life to finding ways for helping the Hispanic Community. “I have a duty to live life of all those who were left behind in the war.” Now, in retirement, nothing appears to stop Rudy from his mission.