When the Manteca Unified Board of Education meets tonight, Sophia Gunzon will be there.
And she’ll let her opinion be known.
The Sierra High School senior is the first student board representative for Manteca Unified since retooling a program that allows for students to have a voice on nearly all matters.
She sits on the dais. She votes on the things that come before her, albeit symbolically. And she represents the more than 25,000 students in the district that has prepared her to embark on a pre-med career when she concludes her schooling at the end of this year.
“I wanted to put my leadership skills to use and work to take them to the next level,” said Gunzon – the Sierra High School Associated Student Body President. “It was a chance to be the voice of the students from all of the schools and I thought it would be a great opportunity to represent the students who feel that they need a voice.”
It’s a strong position for a student that didn’t come out of her shell until she decided to participate in the school’s leadership class as a freshman – working her way up from a position as class treasurer to the school’s de facto representative.
While she’s early in her term and still get acclimated to her surroundings – working with the elected members of the board to get up to speed on the happenings and how they affect students – Gunzon said she has some ideas on things that she’d like to address during her tenure that could have big implications for students, especially those in leadership positions.
One, she said, would be to relax the nutritional regulations that now govern what students can sell on campus during special activities like homecoming. While clubs used to be able to bring in foods native to their heritage or even get catered meals to raise money, new rules restrict what can be sold based off of the nutritional value – much the same way that cafeteria food was overhauled within the last 10 years to comply with California mandates.
While Gunzon said she understands the health implications, it hamstrings clubs who relied on those fundraisers for activities that have been forced to search for other ways to take in money.
As for the rest, she said she’s planning on getting together with alternate Andrew Brunn and meeting with the other ASB Presidents and leadership students at the district’s five high school campuses to truly get a handle on the things that the students would like to see happen.
“I hope that we’re able to make a difference on each of the campuses here in Manteca Unified and represent the ideas that the students themselves have,” Gunzon said. “That’s something that we’re going to work on as we build this up.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility, and we definitely want to do it correctly.”
When she isn’t studying or participating in a long list of extracurricular activities, Gunzon said that she enjoys hiking and searching for new restaurants to try out – an avowed “foodie” that appreciates culinary delights from all walks of life.
Much like her counterpart Brunn, Gunzon is waiting to hear back from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she hopes to major in biological sciences on a pre-med track to become a pediatrician. She has also applied to the University of California, Davis.
Gunzon is the daughter of Syvel and Jonathon Gunzon. She has two siblings – sister Szarisse and brother Jerome.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.