During the 1966-67 school year, Gloria Villasana was a senior at Newark Memorial High School. She got a part-time job with the newly formed Fremont-Newark Junior College District that was operating out of temporary administrative offices on Thornton Avenue in Newark. The college that would come to be named Ohlone was still in the planning stages with classes set to begin in September 1967. That summer she was given a full-time job and moved to the Serra Campus on Washington Boulevard along with the rest of the administrative staff.
Gloria was not sure about going to college at the time. With coaxing from administrators and staff she found herself enrolling as one of the first students at the new college, majoring in business. She continued working for Ohlone as a student performing a variety of part-time duties including main receptionist, telephone operator, registrar, and athletic department receptionist. In addition to working and taking classes, she got involved with student government, the student paper, and even co-hosted a college radio program.
Gloria graduated from Ohlone in 1969 and went to work at a local credit company for about a year before joining the staff at Fremont Bank. She worked her way up at the bank from being a secretary all the way to a Vice President position. Gloria retired from the bank November 2014, after 42 years of service. Gloria started as Secretary the President / Chairman of the Board of Fremont Bank. She went on to work in the accounting department, Manager of Loan Servicing, Branch Manager, Area Manager, Residential Lending, Commercial Lending, and Business Development officer.
In 1975 Gloria was named Ohlone College Outstanding Alumnus and in 1976 she was named Distinguished Alumni for the California Community Colleges. In 2001, in conjunction with the Fremont Bank Foundation, Ohlone’s Building 27 was named the Gloria Villasana Fuerniss Alumni House in her honor. In 2005 she was named District 10 Woman of the Year by State Senator Liz Figueroa, for her dedication to the community through her volunteer service and her professional life. In 2007 she was named Citizen of the Year by the Ohlone College Foundation.
Gloria remained active at Ohlone during her banking career. She became involved with the Ohlone College Foundation in 1975 and is still active on the Foundation Board. For many years she chaired the planning committee for the annual Ohlone Golf Tournament. In 1979 Gloria was elected to the Ohlone College Board of Trustees in 1979. She served on the Board for 18 years and was granted Trustee Emeritus status in 1997. In 2000 she chaired the campaign for the successful passage of Measure “A” for Ohlone College. She is also proud that her son attended Ohlone.
Gloria remains a stalwart advocate for community college education. She continually exemplifies the importance of forging partnerships between businesses and community organizations and continues to share her expertise to improve the quality of life in her community. Her volunteer service has included fundraising events for St. Rose Hospital, Moreau High School, Boy Scouts of America, and Washington Hospital and has been an active participant in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Alameda County receiving the Corporate Leadership Award in 2008 from the HCCAC.