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 Community Hero Helps Migrant Students Thrive

It's no wonder the Padres have recognized Gabriela "Gaby" Beas as a community hero.

The San Diego County Office of Education employee is hard working, dedicated, and passionate about helping migrant students reach their full potential.

Because of that, the Padres have given her the Hispanic Heritage Comunidad Award, which honors four people each year for their work to improve the quality of life in the Hispanic community. She received the award at a pre-game ceremony in May and returned to Petco Park last month to be recognized as part of Hispanic Heritage Night.

"It has been a good year for me," she said. "The community that I work with is aware that I'm working hard for them."

For Beas, it's not all about awards and recognition, though. It's about serving students and families.

She's proud to support families as they build better lives for themselves and their children.

But she doesn't do it alone. She said the recognition should also go to her co-workers, the students and families that she serves, and the community organizations she works with.

It was a manager with one of those organizations who nominated her. Lea Williams, monitoring and evaluations manager with the Community Resource Center in Encinitas, asked the Padres to recognize Beas for playing such a pivotal and helpful role in the Hispanic community in North County.

"She truly is such a positive force in our community," Williams said. "She brings smiles to the kids and families that she serves and keeps everyone around her laughing."

As part of the award from the Padres, she got $1,000 to donate to a nonprofit group of her choice. Beas picked the Mexican-American Educational Guidance Association, which gave her a scholarship when she was in college. At the time, she vowed to give back to the group if she ever got the chance.

Growing up, Beas was a migrant student herself, so she knows first-hand the challenges the students she works with are facing.

She became interested in education while she was still in high school, where she served as a tutor for other students. When she went to college, she became a teacher
assistant.

It was 11 years ago that she started working for the Migrant Education unit. At first, she thought it would just be a stepping stone to something bigger, but once she did the job for a while, she realized that it was the perfect job for her.

"I really love the work that I do," Beas said. "This is what I was meant to do."

In her current role as a migrant services aide, she visits two or three schools a day to meet with students, teachers, and counselors. She often works as a liaison between the family and the school. Other times, she's busy connecting students with needed services and supports. She works with students ages 3 through 22.

"Gaby Beas is deserving of the award because of her genuine involvement in her community and her role in encouraging migrant student participation in community service," said Ricardo Reyes, migrant education program specialist. "Gaby is an enthusiastic motivator of students, in essence, a 'pied piper' who has a strong following and the respect of her students."