UC Berkeley junior Dexter G. Ligot-Gordon brings fresh perspectives and a rich tradition of community involvement to his new position as student-regent designate on the University of California Board of Regents.
Although he has been recommended by the regents' Special Committee to Select a Student Regent, Ligot-Gordon's position was not official until he was approved today (Oct. 17) by the full board.
As student regent-designate, Ligot-Gordon is able to participate in all deliberations but not vote until July 2002 when his one-year term officially begins as a voting member of the board.
Believed to be the first Filipino-American student regent-designate on the UC Board of Regents, Ligot-Gordon said, "Too often Filipinos feel that it is mutually exclusive to be in the mainstream and be Filipino. My perspective is different."
"I am here to serve the university and the state as a Filipino," he said.
Having a different perspective is nothing new to the 21-year-old Vallejo (Solano County) native, who is majoring in political economy of industrial societies at UC Berkeley.
Higher education was always expected of Ligot-Gordon. "My grandmother, who had a second-grade education, and my grandfather, who had a sixth-grade education, made tremendous sacrifices to send their six children to college. To meet their goal, they had to stick together, remain family-focused and take care of each other," he said.
But as he was meeting the expectations of his close-knit traditional family, he was also striving to meet the needs of the broader Filipino community. "I'm the first one in the family to be so involved with the community," he said.
By 1999, his activity in a number of community and youth programs for Filipino-Americans earned him certificates of recognition for community involvement by both the California Assembly and Senate.
"Filipinos are the second largest Asian-American group in the United States, but they are an invisible minority. We have to have an influence in the mainstream in matters that relate to our community and in matters that go far beyond our own concerns," he said.
Ligot-Gordon is going to have one of the highest visibility student positions at the University of California. He finds it ironic that he had to use the appeal process to gain admission into UC Berkeley.
"UC Berkeley was my college of choice, but at first I was denied access. I felt that I was denied access because the admissions process couldn't identify my service and commitment to the community," he said.
"The appeals process allowed me to talk about what I cared about and what was important to me. When I was accepted into Berkeley, I knew I got in because of who I was, not because of my numbers on a test."
Ligot-Gordon said that after he graduates he plans to teach high school for a few years and then earn a degree. "But I realize that my life is changing drastically. I will follow the path of where I am needed the most in education, be it teaching or public service."
Ligot-Gordon is the 28th student regent since the position was established in 1975. UCLA graduate student Tracy M. Davis is currently serving as voting student regent.
(Today Ligot-Gordon is attending the regents' meeting in San Francisco. Media wishing to schedule an interview may contact him through his office at UC Berkeley at 510-642-1119.)