Mesa College Chicano Studies Receives $80K Gift from Gracia Molina de Pick

March 15, 2013 – San Diego Mesa College has received an $80,000 gift from renowned educator, activist and feminist, Gracia Molina de Pick. The gift will bolster the Mesa College Chicana/o Studies Department — which she helped to found in 1970 — by establishing the Gracia Molina de Pick/Chicana and Chicano Studies Department Endowment Fund. It will also create an annual student scholarship in her honor, and enable the creation of an annual lecture series that honors her legacy.

“We are humbled and honored to receive this gift to establish an endowment honoring Gracia Molina de Pick,” said Dr. Pamela T. Luster, President “With it, we will be able to sustain her legacy of educational activism, and teach generations to come about the importance of social responsibility.”

For more than 60 years, Gracia Molina Enriquez de Pick has been an educator, feminist, mentor of students and community activist for women’s equality, indigenous communities, labor and immigrants’ rights. As an early champion for bilingual education, Molina de Pick helped to develop an academic program at Mesa College that gave birth to one of the first Chicano Studies Department in the nation.

The $80,000 gift is believed to be the largest of its kind awarded to support a Chicana/o Studies Department at a community college.

“In the ‘60s and ‘70s, with Gracia’s leadership and vision, San Diego Mesa College planted the seed for Chicana/o Studies, and created one of the first academic program dedicated to its study,” said Chicano Studies Department Chair, Professor Cesar Lopez. This generous gift will enable the department to grow and to establish a place to honor and celebrate her legacy — to Mesa, San Diego, Mexico, and beyond.”

In recognition of Mrs. de Pick’s contribution, Mesa College will name a glass gallery exhibit space dedicated to Gracia Molina de Pick. Located in the Humanities, Languages and Multicultural Studies Building Rotunda, the 6-panel display is host to rotating displays. In honor of this naming, the first display to be created will feature the history and contributions Molina de Pick made to Mesa College as a faculty member in the 1960s and 70s, and include historical civil rights events and moments throughout San Diego history.

The endowment will also enable the college to present an annual scholarship in her honor, to expand its Chicana/o Studies Department and activities, and to continue the Gracia Molina de Pick Feminist Lecture Series, which began in 2012.

Gracia Molina de Pick was born in Mexico City into a family of political reformers. At age 13, she went with her aunt on Sunday visits to Frida Kalho’s home (where she also met Diego Rivera) and learned from Frida that “great people are never only for themselves, but always fight for those who cannot defend themselves.” This lesson helped shape her future.

Gracia attended the Feminist University in Mexico City. She met Richard A. Pick, an American visiting Mexico City on business. In 1957 they married and moved to San Diego. Gracia worked as a teacher and mentor to Mexican American students in National City, co-founded IMPACT, a grassroots organization fighting for the civil rights of Mexican-Americans, and taught Peace Corps recruits at San Diego State College. As a San Diego Mesa College tenured professor, Molina de Pick developed a program that gave birth to the first Chicano Studies Department in a community college. She was also founding faculty member of what is now Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD.

La Prensa San Diego

Gracia Molina de Pick (center with flowers) surrounded by Mesa College professors. Lefto to right: Professor Manuel Velez, Professor Victoria Chavez, Dionne Espinoza, Ph.D., Professor, CSULA,Gracia Molina de Pick, Community Activist Tommie Camarillo, Patricia Aguayo, Chicana Artist, and Professor Cesar Lopez, Ph.D.

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