In celebration of Reno’s sesquicentennial, Reno residents have been nominating individuals for the Reno People Project based on their unique and significant contributions to the city’s heritage and culture. One of the recent 15 honorees named at Fiesta Latin@ on Sept. 23 is Truckee Meadows Community College vice president of Student Services and Diversity Estela Levario Gutierrez.
Reno City Councilman David Bobzien shared a biography for each awardee on stage at the Fiesta Latin@, and information is available at Reno.gov. Gutierrez has been highly involved in the region’s youth education and leadership development landscape.
“In the bigger picture for Reno, I think for any community to be its best is that people give their time, energy and expertise — it’s not just one person, it has to be all of us,” she said. “For me personally, what it comes down to is my own expertise in education. Education is key. So I want to empower youth to find the path to education, because being educated leads to better lives for our children and to make the community better by becoming better citizens.”
Gutierrez arrived in the U.S. a daughter of migrant farm workers, studied persistently in school and achieved her citizenship. She rose from modest beginnings to achieve a master’s degree in educational counseling. Gutierrez is an advocate for those of diverse backgrounds and is actively involved in programs that assist multicultural children and their parents.
She has developed and promoted leadership programs such as the Hispanic Youth Image and the Latina Leadership Program. Mariposa Academy is a Washoe County School District charter school that Gutierrez co-founded with her husband, Jesse Gutierrez. It was the first dual-language school in the region. Because of her passion for education, she also has served as a Washoe County School District (WCSD) trustee.
She was excited to be on stage with the other honorees. “There are so many people in Reno that inspire me, there are new people that inspire me every year,” she said.
One mentor especially stands out to Gutierrez. “The first person who really touched me in my higher education career was Dr. Rita Huneycutt,” Gutierrez said. “She said to me ‘Have you ever thought about being an administrator? With your leadership skills and ability to inspire others, you need to try this.’ My students inspire me, too.”
The Reno People Project will eventually include 150 honorees and their stories leading up to Reno’s May 9, 2018 anniversary date. For more information about vice president of Student Services and Diversity Gutierrez, please call 775-337-5647.