Cerritos College inducts eight members to hall of fame

Gustavo Lopez

Amid camaraderie and drinks, the Cerritos College community came together to celebrate the accomplishments of eight individuals in the fourth annual Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place at the DoubleTree hotel in Norwalk on March 5.

Faculty, staff and guests lingered in the lobby before the ceremony began, drinking and enjoying the night.

One inductee Bob Vaughn thought the turnout was great.

“It’s much more than I expected, it’s just awesome,” he said.

During the ceremony he spoke about his time here at Cerritos, including his memories of playing in the Cerritos baseball team as a pitcher in 1965-66.

Vaughn went 16-0 with 119 strikeouts and 127 1/3 innings. He also holds the Cerritos record of 29 wins in a career.

“One of the things I cherish the most was that every time I got off the mound [Coach] Wally Kincaid would walk up and shake my hand and say ‘good job,’ sounds simple but it was a good compliment,” he added.

The Cerritos Hall of Fame was created to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding individuals at Cerritos College.

President Linda Lacy came to Cerritos College and was surprised of the lack of a school Hall of Fame.

“It truly warms my heart […], and you see the character of the people who were honored and how much they cared about the college,” said Lacy.

She added that the Hall of Fame not only brings the college together but as well as the community.

The inductees ranged from athletes to faculty and corporate partners. The first inductee of the night was Vernecia Smith, for distinguished female athlete in track and field.

She became the first state champion in the history of the campus in women’s track and field. She won the State Championship in 1980, in the 400 meter.

Humbled and At a loss for words, Smith recalled the moment when she heard she was nominated.

She was in her car waiting for her sister when her phone rang.

Smith said, “I don’t normally pick up my phone but a little voice said ‘pick it up.’ So I did.”

She was shocked when she answered and was told she had been inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Smith dealt with many hardships throughout her life such as the death of her mother and her brother becoming disabled after being shot.

During a brief intermission during the ceremony, the guests were treated to a musical presentation on the piano by Dr. Christine Lopez and Dr. Fran Newman.

The inductees shared one sentiment in common, the love of their school and how it changed them.

The Honorable Peter Espinoza, for example described himself a “student without direction.”

He said, “I wasn’t a serious student and I had a 1.5 GPA,”

He now has his Juris Doctorate from UCLA’s School of Law and helped develop the ACCESS Program, along with Cerritos College counselor Marcelino Saucedo. The program was created to promote education to students who were on probation for non-violent crimes.

He credits his wife for persuading him to keep on and graduate high school and to Cerritos College for giving him a direction in life.

Espinoza encouraged these kinds of students regardless of whether they plan transfer or not.

“I would tell other [students] to find direction on their own. That if they need training or an education, this is the place,” he added.