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In this Feb. 2, 2018, file photo, Gloria Grijalva, center, receives applause after she was selected by Lompoc Unified School District board members to fill an open seat on the board. Grijalva has been announced as the ninth nominee for this year's Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Gloria Grijalva, a member of the Lompoc Unified School District board of education for the past nine months, has been announced as the ninth nominee for the 2018 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Grijalva, who was appointed to the LUSD board in February over six other applicants, became the first Hispanic woman to ever serve on the governing body, according to the Peace Prize committee.

In January, according to the Peace Prize committee, Grijalva and a friend were talking about a school board opening that had been created by the death of a board member.

“We talked about names and I said, like a joke, ‘We need somebody like me,’” Grijalva told a member of the committee.

Her friend took the joke seriously.

“Are you nuts?” Grijalva said she thought. But at home later she began to seriously think about it.

“Having 13 years (of past employment) at LUSD, I knew the district well,” she said. “I thought I had something to offer, to give the other side of it from the nonteaching perspective.”

The district has long had former administrators and teachers on its board but not many former classified employees.

“And to add to that I had just completed the master's degree and the CBO (Chief Business Official) certificate,” she said. “Also being raised in a poor family, and becoming a single parent and a college re-entry student, I knew the struggle of many people in the community, and of many of the employees who have similar backgrounds. I felt like I could be a voice.

“I busted my butt to get all this education. This was a way to pay it forward.”

Grijalva was not re-elected to a seat on the board in the Nov. 6 midterm election and her term has since ended.

Previous nominees this year have been Grocery Outlet co-owners Alix and Aaron Crocker; artist and muralist Vicki Andersen; Hancock College Trustee Jeff Hall; YMCA board member Lucy Thoms-Harrington; the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; Chaplain Keith McLellan; Girl Scout leader Penelope Toll; and Lompoc Police Officer Mauricio Calderon.

The current holder of the prize is Lompoc Library Director Sarah Bleyl.

The ninth annual Peace Prize ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ.

In the books: Lompoc Library Director Sarah Bleyl receives Valley of Flowers Peace Prize

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