Mesa College Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2014 Distinguished Alumni – Carlos and Linda LeGerrette

For more than 50 years, graduates Carlos and Linda LeGerrette (Class of 1969) have been committed to service, equality, education, and social justice. Linda, 67, is a graduate of Madison High School; her family here goes back five generations. Carlos, 70, graduated from Point Loma High School; he is a fourth-generation San Diegan. In March, the LeGerrettes were honored with the U-T San Diego Latino Champions Lifetime Achievement Award.


As students at Mesa College in the mid-1960s, the young couple was inspired primarily by Professor Gracia Molina de Pick, and started a student club that would later become MEChA. Inspired by Molina de Pick, they attended a meeting of the local support group of the Delano grape strike, and their life’s path was sealed. While still students the LeGerrettes joined Cesar Chavez in fighting for the rights of farmworkers. They worked closely with Chavez for several years, and later continued to work on democratic causes, including Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. 


Receiving a call from merchandising magnate (Price Club) Sol Price, they began working with Price on community and educational projects. Price convinced the LeGerrette’s they should become entrepreneurs and birthed the warehouse delivery program they would sell to Price Club (now Costco) in 1991. Today, the delivery service is still provided by Costco and employs hundreds of workers.

Inspired to engage the next generation in civic participation, in 2001, they founded the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs. The members, called “Chavistas,” learn civic responsibility and leadership founded on values Cesar Chavez promoted The organization has grown from a single club at one school to 38 clubs in 17 schools representing over 1000 Chavistas in San Diego Unified School District.


They have remained involved with Mesa College, and its Chicana/o Studies Department, and they have returned as speakers on several occasions. During their comments at Mesa College’s 50th commencement exercises in 2014, the LeGerrettes called for the students to take action and follow their dreams. In his closing remarks, Carlos LeGerrette asked a question of the graduates, “Se puede?” or, can you do it? The students answered with the familiar rallying cry, "¡Sí Se Puede!"… We can do it!


2013 Distinguished Alumna -- Miya Hannan

San Diego artist Miya Hannan grew up in her native Japan. There, she received a medical technology degree and worked as a hospital professional for seven years. In 1999, at age 30, she came to the United States.
She enrolled at San Diego Mesa College looking to find her passion and a new career. It was at Mesa that she found a way to express herself through visual art. She graduated with honors from Mesa in 2001 with an associate’s of Fine Art. Miya went on to earn a B.A. Summa Cum Laude from SDSU in 2004, and received an MFA with Fellowship from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007.


As an artist, Miya works on installation, sculpture, and paintings. Her artwork shows her view of the world constructed by the layers and linkages of human lives. Her work is influenced by Asian rituals and philosophy, as well as by her scientific education. Her goal is to present the structure of the world as a conjoined totality, evoking a spiritual quality beyond materiality.

Since her first student exhibition in 2000 at Mesa College Art Gallery, Miya has actively exhibited her work in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, and New Mexico. She was also commissioned by event organizer TEDxSanDiego to create an installation for their 2012 meeting.

Miya is represented by R.B. Stevenson Gallery in La Jolla, which this spring featured her solo exhibition “Layers and Missing Links.” She also teaches art at the University of San Diego and Grossmont College.

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2012 Distinguished Alumnus -- Arnie Robinson

Image: 2012 Distinguished Alumnus

Arnie Robinson began his track career as a stand-out athlete at Morse High School, In 1967, he enrolled at San Diego Mesa College, where he set school records in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump for track and field. After graduation from Mesa, Arnie earned a scholarship to SDSU, where he won the 1970 NCAA long jump champion title.

The long-jump champion achieved even greater fame in his post-college years. A winner of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Trials long jump, Arnie Robinson was third at the 1972 Olympic Games, and took the gold medal in 1976. He was the 1971 Pan American Games champion and was second in 1975. A veteran of 10 international competitions, Robinson was also the first World Cup long jump champion in 1977. Overall, he won seven national long jump titles, six of them outdoors. From 1976 to 1978, he was the top-ranked long jumper in the world with a career best of 27' 4 3/4" in 1976. He retired after the 1979 season, returning to coach at Mesa College.

During his 25 years as head coach at Mesa, Coach Robinson’s teams won 15 conference championships, 10 regional championships appearances, and two state championship appearances with one state title. He also coached six state champion student-athletes, with one competing in the Olympic trials and another, Felix Sanchez, winning a gold medal in Athens for the 400-meter hurdles.

A pillar of the track and field community, Coach Robinson was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2000; the California Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame Track and Field in 2007; and the San Diego Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1984. Always active and involved, he has volunteered to operate the timing systems for major track and field meets, and served as the Foothill Conference representative and at other conference and state track and field meets.

Coach Robinson is most proud of the very active role he has played in the youth track and field community. He was the USATF Youth Chairman from 1994-2004 and the Association Vice President from 1997 to 2004. He was instrumental inspiring thousands of young athletes, establishing youth track in San Diego and striving to promote the sport by hosting youth track and field meets.

Career Highlights

PR (Personal Record): 27-4 3/4 (8.35m)

Olympic Gold Medal, 1976 27-4 3/4 (8.35m)

Olympic Bronze Medal, 1972 26-4 1/4 (8.03m)

World Cup Gold Medal, 1977 26-10 1/2 (8.19m)

Pan-Am Gold Medal, 1971 26-3 3/4A (8.02m)

U.S. National Champion 1978: 27-4w

1977: 27-0 1/2

1976: 27-3 1/2

1975: 26-5

1972: 26-5 3/4

1971: 26-10 3/4

NCAA Champion, 1970 25-10 1/2


2011 Distinguished Alumnus -- Raul L. Celaya

Image: 2011 Distinguished Alumnus

The recipient of San Diego Mesa College's first Distinguished Alumni Award is film producer Raul L. Celaya. A native Californian born to Mexican parents, Raul, 36, grew up in El Centro. After graduating high school, Raul enrolled at Mesa College, where he studied architecture, film and theatre. He joined the Mesa College Theatre Company in 1994 where he learned all facets of theatre production, and winning awards for excellence in direction. Raul received two degrees from Mesa, an AA in Liberal Arts in spring 1996, and an AA in Dramatic Art the following year. The career technical degree gave him the qualifications to pursue his craft. From Mesa, Raul went to New York to become a technical director and lighting designer for off-Broadway shows. He then transitioned to film, where his experience and dedication led him to Los Angeles to work in film production. His bi-coastal status developed a dynamic list of credits including the MTV Video Music Awards, Nutty Professor II, Duplex, Big Fat Liar, Catch Me If You Can, and Along Came Polly to name a few. Raul is also a member of the prestigious Directors Guild of America.

Other credits include the popular television series, Law and Order, numerous national commercials, music videos, multimedia productions, and feature films. In 2005 he created his first production company with fellow Mesa College alumnus Greg Weinbrecht and created shows for Spike TV. In 2008, he was hired to helm Dogwood Entertainment, a family film production company. His first feature film, "That Evening Sun" starring Hal Holbrook and Mia Wasikowska, premiered in March 2009 to critical acclaim. Raul most recently finished production on a webisodic series produced and directed by Vin Diesel for Fox Digital Studios.

Dividing his time between Los Angeles and San Diego, Raul still calls San Diego home. His family is joining him here today.