Mesa College Receives $80,000 Gift Supporting Chicano Studies from Gracia Molina de Pick, life-long Educator, Feminist, and Community Activist

(San Diego – March 8, 2013) -- San Diego Mesa College today announced that it 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 bi-lingual 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.

Formal announcement of the Gracia Molina de Pick endowment to Mesa College will be made next week at the second lecture event established in her honor. The 2013 event will feature a panel discussion on Chicana activism in San Diego, and honor community activist Tommie Camarillo. Other panelists include Dr. Dionne Espinoza, Professor at California State University Los Angeles, Ginna Rodriguez, researcher and University of San Diego alumnae, and Patricia Aguayo, a San Diego-based Chicana artist. The panel will be moderated by Mesa College Chicana/o Studies instructor Victoria Chavez It will be held Monday, March 11, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. in room H-117/H-118. The public is invited to attend.




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.


Gracia’s work has earned awards from numerous organizations, including the California Legislature, the California and San Diego Democratic Party, California Rural Legal Assistance and the Centro Cultural de la Raza. In addition to the endowment made to San Diego Mesa College, she has also established an endowment fund supporting the Logan Heights Branch Library, and its education and literacy program.


About the Chicana/o Studies Program at Mesa College

The San Diego Mesa College Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies offers a dynamic, innovative program that emphasizes an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to understanding the historical experiences and contemporary social realities of the Chicana/o as the largest segment of the Latino population in the United States. Critical thinking and effective oral and written communication skills are integrated across the curriculum which incorporates the arts and literature, gender studies, border studies, cultural studies, history, the social sciences, and policy studies. The curriculum prepares students at the undergraduate level for a multitude of careers options. Students earning a degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies may pursue careers in education, humanities, law, social work, business, the arts, public administration and more.