The Makings of a New ASG President


The third acting ASG president in this academic year, Marisol Valdivia, looks to implement change at Fresno City College on Feb. 23, 2019.

To many onlookers, Marisol Valdivia, the newly elected president of the Associated Student Government at Fresno City College, is walking into an untenable position.  She is the third leader of the student government this academic year. Her two predecessors both left under difficult circumstances; Christopher Washington–who is serving a jail sentence for dissuading a witness–and the other, Angela Van Gilder–who verbally resigned rather than face a removal hearing only three weeks ago.  The organization is facing increasing scrutiny and low morale.

But for Valdivia, ascent to the presidency is a culmination of her hard work and a realization of her dreams.  Despite the stigma that has been placed around ASG and her position as President specifically, she is determined to succeed and redirect the organization to its original goals. Throughout her life, most of her career endeavors required the ability to lead others, providing her the required experience to lead ASG today as their president.

“I never really considered myself a leader,” she said. “I was always nominated or asked to be a leader by those around me.”  

Marisol Valdivia is a 43-year-old business major, first generation college student, Central Valley native and single mother of three daughters, ages 24, 22 and 20, who all attended Fresno High School and are currently on the path to attending University of California colleges.

She grew up in Fresno’s neighboring town of Salinas, where she attended Alisal High School.

Throughout her school days, Valdivia worked several jobs where she quickly fell into a routine of prioritizing work. Contributing to a working team is something that Valdivia quickly became familiar with. One of her first jobs involved working a booth at the local swap meet, where she was awarded more responsibility than her older co-workers due to her prominent leadership qualities.

“At my first paycheck job, I had more duties than my peers had. I was running booths by myself. I have just always been trusted with things like that,” she said.

Valdivia credits her personal experience of growing up in a single parent household, where her mother raised her and her other four siblings, for her embedded leadership characteristics that strengthen her ability to lead the ASG.

Valdivia, a first generation college student, has become an advocate for education.  Her family struggled in a one-parent household, so education was not priority, and Valdivia never felt encouraged.

“We only ever went because it was the law. We probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise,” she said. School was more of a chore than a privilege throughout her adolescence.

Valdivia’s family–her mother specifically, was born in Mexico and later decided to move to the United States where Valdivia was born and raised.

She recognized that the two most important legacies she wanted to leave her children were the importance of education and remaining rooted to her Hispanic culture.

She turned her childhood disinterest in education into motivation to provide her children the best possible opportunities. She chose to move to Fresno so her daughters could attend the bilingual school Sunset Charter.

One of the moments in her life Valdivia is most proud of is working for the Salinas City Elementary School district, her daughter’s district. This was yet another position where Valdivia was granted a leadership role as a result of her active participation in her daughter’s schooling: PTA president.

Nevertheless, on the journey of every leader there is failure and discouragements.

For Valdivia, one of her biggest regrets in life was not attending college as soon as she graduated high school. Instead, she decided to get married to her high school sweetheart, who she met at the age of 15, and start a family at the age of 18.

By the time the single mom decided to return to school, it was after all three of her children were in school themselves. “My kids were in elementary school. That was also when I was PTA President, I was running a business, and a full-time housewife. I don’t know how I did it,” said Valdivia.

While she was only attending college part-time, it did not work out the first time around.

She is now back for her second time and has every intent to finish what she started. She plans to eventually move on to Fresno State University to earn her BA in business with a minor in accounting.

Valdivia’s motivation is to set an example for her children rather than live through them, “to do it [graduate] herself.”

Valdivia initially joined ASG as a senator during her first semester at FCC, later becoming a delegate and recently named ASG President.

As ASG President, Valdivia encourages community and student involvement and overall seeks to be an advocate for the FCC student body.

“I want what is best for everybody. I want to see school spirit and involvement. I want to prioritize my fellow students and be able to be their voice,” she said.

Although students’ time at FCC is relatively short and time in ASG can be even shorter, Valdivia still seeks to leave a notable legacy.

“I would love to see a huge turn around [in ASG] after everything that has happened. I want everyone to have a positive experience. I want to leave it in a better condition than I found it,” explained Valdivia.

Mostly, Valdivia would like to take control of ASG in a way that has been neglected in the past.

“I would like to implement a protocol that will provide guidance to ASG members that is easy to follow,” said Valdivia.

There are various plans that the new ASG President has for the student lead government.

President Valdivia stressed the idea that although her time in ASG might be short, “We don’t have very much time to make a big difference, but you can start a framework that those to follow can see and go off of.”

Marisol Valdivia is planning to run again for ASG President in the upcoming fall semester, and hopes to keep a majority of the strong team that has been built around her.