Counselor Gina Ronzano has worked at San José City College for thirty-three years where her first job was as a work study student in the Career Transfer Center. Those she met and worked with then made her feel at home. After receiving her master’s degree, she began counseling at San José City College.
To commemorate City College’s Centennial celebration, we had a chance to talk with Gina who has been working remotely from home. She gave some insight on what makes City College such a special place to be.
What lead you to choose to go to San José City College and why?
I had such a great experience going to City as a student. It changed my life for the better that I never wanted to leave. I thought the dean in the Counseling office at that time, Chuck Southward, was the most amazing dean. He was so kind, welcoming, and warm. The people that I met here in my life is what made me who I am, made me the counselor I am, made me happy to go to work.
I still take classes. I love learning. My favorite instructor is from a class I took a couple years ago called Race and Ethnicity in the United States with Juan Gamboa. He is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had, because he opened a middle-aged woman’s eyes. Here I’m thinking, I’m educated, I have a master’s degree, I have a variety of friends, and thought I knew so much, but I don’t. I thought, how lucky some students are to get this. Being at this college has made me more aware of what people go through, what’s really important, and what it is to be a human.
Sometimes when you learn things that are different from how you are, it’s beautiful to learn. You get to be a certain age and think you’re not going to learn anymore and when you do, you love learning. It makes your heart swell, like when I took that class. I’ve always been an empathetic person, but taking that class made me want more. I want people to know it’s a safe space and people are fighting for you.
Thinking about when you went to City, who was your favorite mentor?
I had a favorite counselor! My counselor was Ms. (Carole) Young. She was a southern lady that I loved; the most hilarious lady I ever met in my life. She ended up being a second mom to me. She was there for over 30 years. I wish everybody had the chance to meet her. She was one in a trillion. There was nobody else like her.
Because Ms. Young was so special to me, I want to be someone else’s Ms. Young. That’s my goal to meet someone and make a difference in that student’s life like Ms. Young did for me. It’s not the classes, buildings, or technology. It’s the people that make the difference at San José City College.
She to me is what San José City was. Everything she represented is San José City. She made you feel so good. It is the people I’ve met who have stuck with me.
How do you like counseling and being at City College today?
I have students that make me so thankful to be here. I’ve been really lucky, and I think it’s because when they come into my office, it’s a happy safe place.
I teach a guidance class from time to time and I always tell my students about the importance of finding happiness in your job. It’s true that money cannot buy happiness. It’s important to find a place that makes you happy. That’s what City did for me. I grew up with all these people. It’s my happy place. It’s my family.