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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: February 8, 2006

Runner is Among 20 Chosen from 25,000 Athletes

Santa Monica College student Guillermina “Esther” Guillen – a 5-foot-4 runner and daughter of immigrant factory workers – is one of 20 athletes at community colleges statewide to be selected for the 2005 Pepsi Scholar Athlete Honor Roll.

“Esther is a talented and committed athlete who willingly and consistently accepts the demands of competitive running,” said her coach Eric Barron. “Esther learned to run outside of her comfort zone, challenging herself to deal with pain while concentrating on performance.”

The awards, given by the Community College League of California’s Commission on Athletics, are based on athletic and academic achievement, as well as leadership.

Candidates must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (out of 4.0) and must show outstanding leadership as an athlete, student or in other activities and have participated in two seasons of sports at a California community college. Currently, there are approximately 25,000 community college student athletes statewide.

Barron said Guillen, 19, who ran both cross country and track in 2004 and cross country in 2005, is one of the squad’s best runners but is modest and is a “huge supporter of the team.” At the same time, Guillen is a conscientious student who has maintained a 3.89 grade point average, close to a perfect 4.0.

Guillen was named SMC Women’s Cross-County Most Valuable Athlete for 2005 as well as one of two of the team’s Most Inspirational Athletes the same year.

In both 2004 and 2005 she missed qualifying for the State Championship by just a few seconds.
A Santa Monica resident, Guillen grew up in San Fernando, the youngest of seven children of
Raul and Maria Guillen, Mexican immigrants who were both factory workers. Several of her siblings went to Ivy League schools including Harvard and Yale. Guillen plans to transfer this fall to the Berkeley or Irvine campuses of the University of California, as a sociology or criminology major.

“I was surprised, I didn’t think I’d get it,” Guillen said with typical modesty.

The awards will be presented at the annual Commission on Athletics convention April 5 in Sacramento.

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