2013: Omar Gonzalez
CEO, Reach Out
After arriving at Norco College, Omar Gonzalez quickly realized that “a sense of community” was just as important on a college campus as it was in the outside world. He also discovered that he had an affinity, some might say a calling, for helping others--particularly individuals less fortunate than himself. Soon after arriving on campus, Gonzalez jumped into the role of student government leader. His extensive involvement in activities and day-to-day student life and issues is still remembered by College administrators, faculty and staff. A NC dean says that Gonzalez “became part of the fabric of Norco College.” Excelling in student government and in the classroom, Gonzalez secured acceptance to UC Davis in 2005. There, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Chicano Studies and Political Science. Back here at home, he now serves as director of Public Policy and Prevention for Reach Out, a non-profit organization that strives to address critical issues facing today’s youth in the western Inland Empire.
As director, Gonzalez oversees two community coalitions: Partners for Innovative Communities and the Fontana Community Coalition. These groups focus on building healthy, safe and vibrant communities. Much of Gonzalez’s daily work is with school districts, where he helps establish curricula and programs to battle bullying and substance abuse, and oversees work that studies the codependency between alcohol abuse and violence. Ask where he thinks the future leads, Norco College’s Young Alumnus exhibits a contented ignorance, other than allowing that his life will always involve building up communities. “I’ve always cared,” Gonzalez said. “I’m just trying to make a difference.”