Pilar Lewis was hired in 2000 to lead the fledgling Multimedia Studies curriculum and built it into a vibrant college degree and certificate program. We lost Pilar in 2010 after a valiant struggle with cancer. She lived life to the fullest despite her illness. Pilar will be remembered for her grace, courtesy, hard work, commitment to excellent teaching and learning, and exemplary service as head of the Multimedia program. Her colleagues at Ohlone College were deeply saddened by her death.
Pilar was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico. Her father, Alfonso, was a doctor and her mother, Esperanza, was a registered nurse. Pilar had a loving and caring nanny, Juanita, who took care of her while her parents were at work. Juanita is considered part of Pilar’s family. She has lived with the family for over 55 years and continues to live with them today.
Pilar was the youngest of six children, four girls and two boys. She was affectionately known by all as Pili. As a child, Pili studied at a German school from kindergarten through from high school. When she graduated she was fluent in German; in fact, her German was much better than her English at that time.
From a young age, Pilar loved graphic design and multimedia. In Mexico, she attended a private college majoring in graphic design and freelanced as a graphic designer. One of her major clients was the Quality Control Department at Volkswagen of Mexico.
Pilar met her husband Steve while Steve was traveling in Mexico. Two years after they met they were married in Mexico. After moving to the United States, Pilar graduated Summa Cum Laude from Cal State Hayward with a Bachelor of Arts in the Art Studio Option, and a minor in Electronic Media for Artists. She went on at Cal State Hayward to earn a Master of Arts in Multimedia.
Her Masters thesis consisted of a group project which explored how art and technology affect society’s perception of the world. This project and resulting CD-Rom received two awards: First Place for Creative Art Design in the CSU Research Competition; and the Bronze Medal in the Envision New Media Awards Competition.
During their wonderful 22-year relationship, Pilar and Steve enjoyed doing many things together and with friends. They enjoyed traveling together extensively throughout Mexico and many areas of the world. But their greatest passion was riding their tandem bike through areas of San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and Pilar’s desire for adventure, and penchant at times for speed, made for an exciting ride. Pilar and Steve were truly ideological soul mates.
Pilar came to Ohlone 10 years ago and took over a new and fledgling Multimedia Studies program. She brought enthusiasm, creativity and dedication to Ohlone, to the program, to her students, and to us. She exemplified the type of leadership needed for excellence in a career, technical and professional program like Multimedia Studies.
Pilar developed strong ties with employers in the industry, including professionals active in freelance multimedia work. She was always working to make sure her program and courses reflected changes in the field, as Multimedia Studies is a dynamic and ever-changing area. She was active in the statewide Community College Multimedia Initiative network, making sure we were aware of best practices around the state, although Pilar’s work was often cited as the best practice.
Pilar was continually learning, and served as a role model to her students on the importance of ongoing, lifelong learning. She was always advocating, in her own special way, for high quality computer equipment and software for her students. Pilar was a superb motivator of students, using extensive hands-on learning and loads of positive reinforcement.
Pilar instituted the Multimedia Festival to showcase student work and it has become a very successful annual event. This spring’s festival was dedicated to her. She was active in supporting students in the International Students program. She was also a strong supporter of the Disabled Students Program and Services department. She also participated in the International Faculty Exchange Program and traveled to China to teach Multimedia courses there.