Sierra College Faculty Member of the Year is well-known Auburnite

Reyes Ortega has been selected as Sierra College Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year.

Ortega is a Chicano/Mexican American History teacher at SierraCollege and is also coordinator of the Puente Program, providing counseling services that aid students in understanding the complexities of higher education.

A longtime Auburn resident originally from the Bay Area, Ortega has been with SierraCollege since 1992, serving as assistant dean, counselor, adjunct professor, and – since 2008 – as coordinator of the Puente Program.

Ortega, whose classes cover history beginning with the Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures, has an extended family that comes from the state of New Mexico and the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. He is also a founder and coordinator of the school’s annual Cesar Chavez Higher Education Speaker Series.

Outside of Sierra, Ortega is board president of the North Auburn-based Placer County Latino Leadership Council, which advances the leadership potential and health of the Latino community.

This year’s award is a continuum of an honor that has been awarded since the 1985-86 school year. Well-known instructors receiving the award include Bruce Broadwell (1990-91), Richard Hilton (1994-95), Joe Medeiros (2004-05) and Roz Goldenberg (2005-06).

In her nomination, Andrea Neptune said that, with the college recently designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, Ortega plays an instrumental role in reaching out to Hispanic students, creating an inclusive atmosphere on campus.

“Not only do his bilingual skills play a vital role in connecting with Hispanic-Latinx (a gender-neutral term for Latinos and Latinas) immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students and Spanish-speaking-only students, but Reyes goes out of his way to reach out to students, offering a lifeline to those who might otherwise believe that getting a college education wasn’t an option,” Neptune said. “For over two decades, Reyes has made and continues to make an outstanding contribution to the SierraCollege campus community, having a significant positive impact on the lives of our students.”