Donor Spotlight: Joe & Molly Vasquez
EIS has thrived for more than 50 years because supporters like Joe & Molly Vasquez understand the importance of science education for students and the need for equity in education. One reason is that their daughter, Kelli, is a 5th/6th grade teacher of Math and Science at a gifted school in Virginia. Another is that like many supporters, they see the connection of early STEM education and how it relates to present and future career opportunities. As Joe said, “We support EIS because we believe in what they're doing. The need to teach science, engineering, computing, technology, etc. for all kids but especially in this neighborhood [is vital]. For this generation these are basic survival skills.”
Their involvement with EIS began when Don Short (Dean of Science at SDSU and EIS Board President at the time) asked Joe to attend a Board Meeting and share his ideas and thoughts about EIS. Inspired by the mission of EIS and the people involved, Joe soon joined the Board of Directors. At the time, the biggest challenge for EIS was expanding to serve the growing number of students interested in science education. The Board decided that a larger facility was the best step forward. With early support from the Jacobs family and an outpouring of community support, the campaign eventually raised $6 million to construct our current 15,000-square foot STEM learning center. “The campaign to raise funds for the new building is my treasured memory because of the hard work and time that everyone (students, Board, staff) put in and what we learned from the Jacobs staff (Jennifer, Sue and the rest of the team).” said Joe.
After earning his law degree from the University of California, Joe spent his career in higher education, working at UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and San Diego State University where he retired from in 2004. Molly moved to San Diego from Michigan in 1968 and went to work at the University of California San Diego as assistant to the Vice President Student Affairs. The two met at UCSD in 1976 and have been serving their community together ever since.
Over the years, EIS has been a rewarding experience for the Vasquez’s that has impacted their lives in many ways. “My favorite memories were talking to Tom Watts about EIS.” said Molly. Joe agrees “We have so many great memories of former students, Board members and staff. It's been rewarding to play a role in meeting the challenges, and seeing the changes that EIS has gone through and knowing that because of our efforts it will be here for a long time to come.”
EIS is grateful for the generous support of Joe and Molly Vasquez. Their long term contributions have positively impacted thousands of youth and will continue to do so for many more.