Honorees include Amanda Aguirre, Bruce Jacobson, Mario Jauregui, Richard Lamb, and Sheriff Leon Wilmot
Yuma, AZ (November 15, 2021) – Alumni and community partners will be present to attend the Arizona Western College Hall of Fame Celebration at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16. AWC’s 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees Amanda Aguirre, Bruce Jacobson, Mario Jauregui, Richard Lamb, and Sheriff Leon Wilmot will be honored during the in-person event, which will also be streamed on Facebook Live.
Since it was established in 2011, the AWC Hall of Fame event has recognized individuals who have made a significant contribution to the mission and vision of the college. The award criteria encourages a broad range of nominations that represent students, faculty/staff, athletic or academic teams, or community members. These individuals have brought significant prestige and recognition to AWC through outstanding success in a career, a body of work or special event, or dedicated promotion of the mission of higher education in the greater Yuma and/or La Paz region.
“It is an honor to recognize these 2021 Inductees for their dedication and leadership in Yuma and La Paz communities. Their service continues to inspire students, staff, and community members,” said Laura Knaresboro, Executive Director of the AWC Foundation.
The event will be held in the North Schoening Conference Center in the 3C Building at the AWC Yuma Campus, 2020 S. Avenue 8E. Those interested in attending this event virtually can visit www.facebook.com/ArizonaWesternCollege to view the event on Facebook Live. The media is invited to attend this event.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductee Amanda Aguirre
Senator Amanda Aguirre has worked for decades to improve the health and lives of countless children and families during her career in the greater Yuma County region. In 2003, Ms. Aguirre became the first female and first Hispanic to represent District 24 (new legislative district 4) in the Arizona House of Representatives and then the Arizona State Senate (2006–2010). During her time in office, Senator Aguirre had success in passing key bi-partisan legislation. Among her many legislative accomplishments, she sponsored an Autism Spectrum Disorder “Steven’s Law,” which requires private medical insurance to provide Autism intervention services under their insurance benefits. She was appointed in 2000 by President Clinton to serve in the US-Mexico Border Health Commission.
Prior to elected office and her medical administrator role, she served as the Director of AWC Services, South Yuma County from 1995 to 2001, where she tripled enrollment at the center and increased the delivery of courses beyond English as a Second Language to include Math, Business, Child Development, Music, Arts for Seniors and Computers. As the daughter of two teachers, she is dedicated to education.
Ms. Amanda Aguirre grew up in Sonora, Mexico and completed a BS in Chemistry (Food Chemistry) at the University of Hermosillo and an MS at California State University in Nutrition with an emphasis on Feeding Issues for Children with Special Needs. As the President and CEO of the Regional Center for Border Health, Inc and the San Luis Walk-In Clinic, she oversees myriad public health programs to help families connect with the care they need. As part of her Western Arizona Health Education Grant, she established a successful job readiness training center for positions such as medical coding/billing, medical office specialist, nutrition and foodservice.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Aguirre initiated timely provision of health care, with ongoing COVID-19 testing services across Yuma and La Paz Counties, through San Luis Walk-In Clinic. Locations included Arizona Western College campus, essential business and services such as nursing homes, prisons, the U.S. Border Patrol stations in the Yuma area, for farmers and farmworkers in the region’s significant agriculture industry.
Ms. Aguirre is an outstanding health care leader and state leader with partnerships and relationships that extend far beyond the boundaries of her former constituency. In 1991 she helped establish the Binational Health and Environmental Council between Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado to address public health issues and health professional shortages, which resulted in new resources from the Center for Disease Control to create the first-ever binational Tuberculosis Control Program in the Arizona-Mexico border.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductee Bruce Jacobson
Norman Bruce Jacobson has lived a life of service to the communities of Yuma and La Paz Counties through his visionary development, his leadership, and his service. Bruce was elected to the Arizona Western College District Governing Board and served from 1980–1984, during the tumultuous time when residents upriver decided to split from Yuma County and create La Paz County, making AWC a two-county college district. While serving on the board, Bruce notes that the board learned to listen well to each other to work through differences of opinion in order to achieve a greater good. Because of the respect members developed for each other, they were able to meet challenges head-on with unanimous or near-unanimous votes, with greater understanding and better decisions.
Bruce came to Yuma in 1967 as the co-owner of an engineering firm, and he helped his brothers set up their companies. In April of 1975, he joined his brothers in Jacobson Realty & Development Company, now called Jacobson Companies. He is a registered civil engineer and land surveyor and established Jacobson Engineering upon his arrival with the company. Upon the death of his brother Larry in 1979 and the retirement of his brother Don in the mid-1990s, Bruce has overseen the continued growth of the company. When economic downturns have occurred in our country, he has innovated new product lines to bring new ideas to the community.
Bruce takes community-building very seriously. His proudest career achievement is participating in the development of over 12,000 residential lots and homes, as well as the development of many commercial projects that have helped local businesses grow and provided economic growth and employment to many. Watching Yuma grow in an orderly manner into the city it is today is a specific point of pride. He helped bring Boys and Girls Club to Yuma, and is the developer and co-owner of Ridgeview Transitional Rehabilitation facility.
For nearly 14 years, Bruce served as the county engineer for the newly formed La Paz County, during which time the Colorado River was flooding periodically. Bruce was selected by the US Department of the Interior to resolve the issue and develop plans for future water deliveries to reservoirs along the river.
Bruce has served his community through many church activities and leadership roles. He has been President, Vice President and board member for Kiwanis. Bruce has also served as Scout Master and helped many scouts to the rank of Eagle Scout. Most importantly, he has helped his wife raise ten children, seeing each of them obtain a college degree, many of them advanced degrees, and watching them raise their families as good citizens.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductee Mario Jauregui
As a student of migrant workers with limited education, Mario was focused on the opportunities college could provide him. With a start at AWC, Mario charted a course for himself that made him into a local and international business leader with deep roots and a philanthropic spirit that has impacted countless lives in Arizona and Sonora.
Mario says living and studying at Arizona Western College was “exactly” what he needed to springboard him into classes at AWC as a junior. He came to AWC from KOFA High School and was very determined to rise to the academic level of a college environment. He took Micro and Macro Economics, American History, and Marriage and Dating.
He chose to live on campus because he loved the independence of being on his own but not too far away from his family in San Luis, Arizona. He worked at the Student Union Game Room, attended college athletic events, movie nights, and pickup basketball games.
While he has his hands in many local non-profit organizations, Mario wears his AWC alumni status like a badge of honor, promoting the college across the community. He has served on the Yuma Regional Medical Center Board, the Greater Yuma Economic Development board, as well as organizations including Yuma Community Foundation, Greater Yuma Port Authority, San Luis Economic Development Corporation, Rotary Club of San Luis and the San Luis, Sonora, Mexico Industry Chamber of Commerce (CANACINTRA).
When Mario sees a need, he tries to meet it. He committed to 10 years of scholarships for San Luis High School seniors; he has donated water filtration systems to elementary schools in San Luis, Mexico; and for over two decades he has financially supported the exportation of donated building supplies for families in need in San Luis, Mexico. The greater Arizona – Sonora region has benefited tenfold from Mario’s career journey that began on the campus of Arizona Western College.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductee Richard Lamb
Richard Lamb spent his career as a servant to education and a life-long advocate for academics and vocational training in Western Arizona.
Richard served the Parker region for nearly 44 years as a high school teacher, coach, and mentor, including time as a member of various state-wide vocational boards. Richard also helped bring college courses to high school students, and he helped establish college Nursing and Administration of Justice programs in Parker. He was part of the group that launched the Western Arizona Vocational Education Joint Technical District (WAVE JTED) in Parker, and he served on that board for two years.
In 2014 he was appointed to the Arizona Western College District Governing Board, and was reelected in 2020. Under his leadership, AWC has dramatically impacted lives of students in La Paz counties through his advocacy.
Richard grew up in Moroni, Utah, in a farming family that raised cows, pigs, alfalfa, and oats. In high school Richard raised 100 show turkeys each year as a member of FFA, and won 1st place in his weight class each of the four years. Richard was called to an LDS mission in the deep south during the height of the Civil Rights movement and was in Montgomery, Alabama on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. marched there from Selma.
Richard is a First-Generation college student, who attended Snow College and BYU Provo to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education. He later earned a Master’s degree in Business Education by studying at ASU, NAU, UofA, BYU Hawaii and University of Phoenix.
Richard started teaching in the part of Arizona formerly known as the Northwest Yuma School District, now known as the Bicentennial School District. His first job was teaching business classes at Salome High School, where he spent 11 years. During that time, he took several classes from AWC professors who traveled to Parker to teach, and dreamed of expanding that service to a greater number of students. Richard then spent 33 years at Parker High School teaching and directing Career Tech Education, and building out concurrent and dual education college courses for high school students.
Richard was drawn to college District Governing Board service to help connect the citizens of La Paz County to the college and to build out and improve college services to the county. He is especially proud of the development of the college’s Strategic Plan 2025; the Student Experience Statement; and the development of a “students first” culture.
Richard is highly regarded as an active member of his community who always seeks broader understanding of the needs of the people living in the college district. He also prioritizes opportunities to engage with students, learn about their dreams, challenges and what they are studying.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductee Sheriff Leon Wilmot
Sheriff Leon Wilmot began his journey to protect and serve his community at the same moment in history as Arizona Western College – he was a member of the AWC Law Enforcement Training Academy Class #1. Sheriff Wilmot has long advocated for local law enforcement training opportunities and greatly assisted the expansion and ongoing growth of AWC Law Enforcement Training Academy.
Leon enlisted in the US Marine Corps and was assigned to the Yuma-MCAS Crash Crew; while serving his country for a four-year tour of duty, he attended Arizona Western College and worked as a Reserve Deputy for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.
He was elected Yuma County Sheriff in 2012 after a long career that began in 1987 in a wide variety of positions. Leon had leadership positions ranging from Bureau Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division to Public Safety Captain and Chief Deputy on his way to leading the organization.
Some of his professional accomplishments include the restructuring of the Southwest Border Alliance drug task force to the newly formed Yuma County Narcotics Task Force, overseeing the restructuring of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Posse, and developing a Mutual Aid Law Enforcement Agreement between Imperial County California and Yuma County.
Sheriff Wilmot is no stranger to life-long learning. He graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 1994, the FBI National Academy in 2000, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Supervisor’s Course in 2005. In 2007, he completed the Certified Public Manager program through ASU, and attained the Professional Development designation through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 2017, he was appointed to the National Sheriffs’ Association Board of Directors, which represents all 3,080 sheriffs across the country and sets guidance and direction for the association, and has served on its board of directors since.
Sheriff Wilmot also serves as a member of the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, the National Sheriffs’ Association Border Security Committee, as well as the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety “Oversight Council on Driving or Operating Under the Influence Abatement” committee.
Sheriff Wilmot’s community and professional service spans from Policía Internacional Arizona – Sonora to the Yuma Area Ag Council to Amberly’s Place, Caballeros de Yuma, and Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club. He is known for being a national and regional leader in border safety, forging strong partnerships to keep the communities he serves safe.
Arizona Western College Foundation
Coordinator of Development and Alumni Relations
Arizona Western College Foundation