Each year we open the District 9 Star Application with the hopes of highlighting our community’s unsung heroes. We spread the opportunity to apply far and wide so we can hear stories of people doing great work throughout our community — stories that deserve to be uplifted.
My team and I always look forward to reading all the stories that are submitted about those who are making a lasting difference in the lives of others within District 9 and throughout San José. After the application window closes, we review all submissions and assess each nominee’s positive impact on our community.
We received more nominations this year than in any of the prior three years my office has led the District 9 Star program. We are honored to share these stories with you and take this opportunity to spread positivity, altruism, joy, love, and kindness in our own corner of San José.
Below are the three individuals nominated and then hand-selected by myself and my team to be recognized as the 2022 District 9 Stars.
Andrew was nominated by his mother, and because we don’t know the nominee’s ages, I can tell you that I was truly overjoyed to meet him and learn that he is only a senior in high school. Andrew brings smiles to the community as a creator and teacher through music, art, and science. He teaches free saxophone lessons to middle school students to ensure that no child faces financial barriers preventing them from learning how to play music.
Throughout the pandemic, he printed and delivered over 300 hand-printed figurines to nursing homes and a children’s hospital to let those people know that someone was thinking about them. He utilized his 3D printing skills again but this time to create safety guards for all the teachers in the Campbell Union High School District to prevent teachers from accidentally hitting the emergency buttons on their classroom phones.
Andrew has also led a Hackathon for the District where students get together on small teams to create a coding project. He has worked tirelessly to find enough company sponsors so that the event would be free for all students, including meals and snacks, and is currently planning another event for 2023.
His above-and-beyond efforts to improve education at San José schools and put smiles on the faces of community members both young and old are just the start of where this young man will go. I am proud that he was able to meet fellow community leaders and see two women who have continued their efforts for years.
Melissa leads the Cambrian Educational Foundation, a group of volunteers dedicated to raising funds to provide students with the enrichment programs necessary to create well-rounded educations that prepare them for success.
As a busy parent herself, she has been an outspoken proponent of the Cambrian School District and community carving out time to prioritize other families in the District. She’s made it a priority to be a bridge-builder and collaborator who puts children first and helps make a true impact on the community.
Melissa also leads an annual fundraiser and community building “Read-a-thon” event which supports mental health resources across the district and has raised over $55,000 in the past two years.
I am honored to thank her for her tireless efforts to improve the quality of education for all students in the Cambrian School District. It warms my heart to see how she has made it a major responsibility of hers to care for the well-being of her own family in addition to other families and students here in San José.
Viviana was nominated by a parent who has truly benefitted from the work she’s done in the community. As a parent of a child with autism, Viviana became an advocate for families of children with disabilities to support inclusion and access to services.
She started the journey to where she’s now by hosting emotional wellness and self-care meetings out of her home. As she became more educated, the discussion at these meetings became about the disability service system and how to overcome the roadblocks to accessing services.
Viviana started this after realizing how difficult raising a child with disabilities was but especially for families that also had to overcome language and financial stability barriers to resources. Being fully bilingual in English and Spanish, she almost exclusively supports Latino, Spanish-speaking parents and families.
Viviana teaches countless parents of children with disabilities by helping them navigate and access the system, better understand their child’s condition, and feel supported throughout the emotions and process that comes shortly after their child is diagnosed.
In addition to the work she does with families, Viviana is a Governors’ appointee to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. Recently, she also served on the City of San José’s Covid Task Force — Lived Experience Group, where her personal mission was to have the experiences of people with disabilities and their families heard and included in the City’s discussions.
I am grateful that we have Viviana as an advocate for people with disabilities in our community. She has been a champion of inclusion by bringing awareness to the disparities people with disabilities face, especially those in other minority groups and I can’t thank her enough for helping make San José a more accessible city for everyone.
Thank you to everyone who nominated a member of our community, all of this year’s nominees, and the 2022 District 9 Stars. You have all made such a positive impact in our corner of San José. I am extremely grateful that we have the pleasure of celebrating and honoring these wonderful individuals year after year.
I am truly proud to call all of you District 9 residents and now three more community members our District 9 Stars!