WVC announces 2011 Outstanding Alumni of the Year

2011 Outstanding Alumni









The Esparza siblings received the 2011 Outstanding Alumni award. Pictured from left to right are Elsa Esparza, WVC President Jim Richardson, Ruth Esparza, Claudia Valdez and Juan Esparza.

Siblings Juan Esparza, Elsa Esparza, Claudia Valdez and Ruth Esparza were announced as the Wenatchee Valley College 2011 Alumni of the Year at the commencement ceremony in June.

Juan Esparza graduated from Eastmont High School in 1991, earned an associate of arts and sciences degree from WVC in 1996, and went on to Central Washington University, where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1999. He started his career at Cashmere Valley Bank and, one year later, received a job at the Washington State Auditor’s Office. Meanwhile, he decided to pursue a certified public accountant license and returned to WVC for additional accounting credits. Juan continued taking accounting courses through the WVC-CWU partnership and obtained his certified public accountant license. He currently manages a team of auditors in a five-county region with the Washington State Auditor’s Office and is the owner/partner at a small accounting firm.

Elsa Esparza attended Wenatchee High School and graduated from WestSide High School with a two- year scholarship to attend Wenatchee Valley College, where she earned an associate of arts and sciences degree in 1998. While attending WVC, Elsa worked as an intern at La Super Z, a local radio station, where she was promoted to program director as soon as she graduated. Today she works for Cherry Creek Radio and is in charge of all on-air promotions, sales, events, production and more. Elsa serves on the board for Fiestas Mexicanas as director of entertainment. She works with many nonprofit organizations such as the Make a Wish Foundation, Relay for Life, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Domestic Violence Center and Habitat for Humanity, and helps promote their messages to the Latino community.

Claudia Valdez attended WestSide High School when she became a teenage mother and graduated with her class in 1996. After obtaining a WVC associate of arts and sciences degree in 2000, she enrolled in the WVC nursing program and achieved her childhood dream of becoming a registered nurse in 2002. For seven years, she worked in Central Washington Hospital’s medical/oncology department, caring for patients battling cancer. For the last three years, she has cared for patients through their final stages in life as part of the home health and hospice department.

Ruth Esparza also graduated from WVC in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science and her juris doctor degree from Gonzaga University, and then returned to Wenatchee to work as a staff attorney for the Northwest Justice Project, representing victims of domestic violence and procuring the safety of families. Her passion for public service drives her to serve on the Chelan/Douglas County United Way Board, the Wenatchee Community Center Board, and other boards and committees that work on social justice issues in the community. In 2008, she received the Wenatchee Valley Civil Rights and Social Justice Award in recognition of her commitment to the community. For the past five years, Ruth has been a dedicated mentor for college-bound minority and underprivileged children, ranging from elementary school to high school.

The family hasn’t finished at WVC yet. Juan, Elsa, Claudia and Ruth have a brother, Rodrigo Perez, who is currently a WVC student and is interested in becoming an electrician.

The Esparza siblings, said WVC President Jim Richardson, “all exemplify the reasons Wenatchee Valley College exists. All serve as examples of how education can lead to personal achievement and community service.”