State senator names Coley Woman of the Year

By Megan Freeman, May 10, 2022

On April 16, Cal Poly Pomona’s President, Soraya M. Coley, received the Woman of the Year award for 2022 at the “Women’s Leadership Luncheon” hosted by the Women’s Caucus and Leyva. This event was organized by California State Sen. Connie Leyva’s office.

Leyva, D-Chino, honored Coley this award for her advocacy of Cal Poly Pomona students and the greater Inland Empire.

Leyva and Coley have been working together for many years and have great respect and admiration for one another.

University President Soraya Coley is honored by state Sen. Connie Leyva (Courtesy of Raisa Majid)

“Since President Coley arrived at Cal Poly Pomona, she has certainly been an unrelenting and passionate advocate for students, staff, faculty, and the community,” Leyva said in a statement on her website. “My office has worked closely with her and the polytechnic university throughout her tenure, and we have built a strong relationship that I know has served the Cal Poly Pomona community and my entire Senate district and region well during all these years.”

The two women have supported each other at their various events, with Coley being a keynote speaker and host at Leyva’s Young Women Leadership Conference in 2015. Coley is a regular attendee of these conferences. There is also an annual “Career Day with Connie” event hosted at various elementary schools. Which is regularly attended by CPP community and Coley.

Coley could not be reached for an interview prior to deadline, so she provided a statement.

“It really is an honor, especially coming from someone like Senator Leyva, who has been such a passionate advocate for women and women’s issues in California,” said Coley in a statement. “But in truth, I see this acknowledgment not so much as what I’ve accomplished, but what has been made possible by the countless women who came before me. As an educator and scholar, my journey could not have been possible without their sacrifices and commitment. I think of my mother, grandmother and teachers who instilled in me self-worth and resilience in the face of racism and prejudice. And I think of the many trailblazers that created the path before me in higher education. I owe them everything.”

Senators select a woman of the year in their district to honor during Women’s History Month. The award has been an honor for Coley, who credits previous women for contributing to the award.

Courtesy of Raisa Majid

“Whenever my office calls upon President Coley to partner on one of our many projects and efforts, she is always there,” continued Leyva’s statement. “I can think of no more deserving person than President Soraya Coley to recognize as Woman of the Year for 2022.”

As a more intimate event with 34 attendees, the event held a moderated Q&A with Coley at the end moderated by CPP student and ASI Secretary of External Affairs Raisa Majid.

“It was a wonderful experience (moderating the event),” said Majid. “Beforehand, I got to talk with a lot of the women who were invited to the event, so it was a great experience to talk to them and hear about their experience and their specific experiences with how they entered their careers as women and the challenges they faced.”

In her current role with ASI, Majid deals with civic engagement and governmental issues, such as dealing with the student body and presidential events. Majid also shared her experience of being in a position of power as a woman.

“I, so far, within ASI student government, haven’t felt anything in being in an area that men more dominated,” said Majid. “I believe last semester and earlier this semester we had our cabinet in ASI government was mostly made up of women, so it was really interesting. There was no pushback, and everyone got along really well, but that’s not to say that’s not something we face daily.”

Majid felt that being able to talk to Leyva and Coley about their careers and how they achieved their success is inspiring and resonates with her. She thought that the event was to honor all the women there.

In a statement, Coley wrote: “Any honor I may receive is a reflection of the amazing work happening at Cal Poly Pomona. The commitment and dedication of our students, faculty and staff crystalize in a unique institution that provides transformative opportunities and launches students into a lifetime of success. And underlying our progress is our fundamental collective commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and keeping the doors of opportunity open wide.”

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