Alumna" Served as Regent of the College More Than 20 Years and Helped Establish Latina Alumnae Network February" 28, 1936 – August 19, 2004 Celia Gonzales Tor
Alumna" Served as Regent of the College More Than 20 Years
and Helped Establish Latina Alumnae Network
February" 28, 1936 – August 19, 2004
The" daughter of a downtown Los Angeles garment worker, Celia Gonzales Torres '58 was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet from grammar school to college. She attended St. Mary’s Academy Grammar School, St. Vincent’s School, and St. Mary’s High School, before enrolling at Mount Saint Mary’s University, where she majored in sociology. When she graduated in 1958, she was one of only three Latinas. She worked full-time while a student and commuted each day to the Chalon Campus in West Los Angeles from the inner city.
She married Julio Torres soon after her college graduation, and the couple raised a family of five children in Rancho Palos Verdes. During those years, she never lost sight of her goal of returning to school, and in 1980 she fulfilled that dream by receiving her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. For many years, she managed a successful counseling practice in Palos Verdes.
In addition to her work with her family and school, she served as president of the Miraleste High School PTA, as a member of the board of the Richstone Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and was instrumental in founding Los Amigos de la Humanidad, a support group for the USC School of Social Work. She also was a dedicated member of the Regents Council at Mount Saint Mary’s University for more than 20 years.
In 1985 she traveled to Nairobi for the nongovernmental meeting of the closing of the United Nations decade on women. She had wanted to go to Mexico City in 1975 when the decade opened, but felt that her responsibilities lay with her family. A that time, her children ranged in age from nine to 16 years old, it was summer and she didn’t want to leave them. But she did not forget her dream, and when the conference was held in Nairobi, she decided to attend, and she took her youngest daughter with her.
She was selected as the Outstanding Alumna of Mount Saint Mary’s University at Founders Day in 1986, and upon receiving her award, explained that she would like to serve as a role model to other Latina students. “Never let go of your dreams,” she told the packed room of alumnae who came to honor her. And she never did.
For more than a decade she served as founding chair of the National Network of Hispanic Women, an organization that has helped countless women like her “get through the pipeline of success” as she described it. She has been credited with breaking down many barriers for Hispanic women and credits the Mount with her desire to serve others. “That’s what I remember most about the Mount—we were always involved and reaching out,” she told The Mount magazine in 2002.
She and her husband, Julio, moved to Solvang, where she continued her counseling and volunteer work. Earlier this year, her 20-year vision to establish a support group for Latina alumnae of Mount Saint Mary’s University was fulfilled with the founding of the Latina Alumnae Network, for which she was named honorary chair. More than 50 alums, including recent graduates gathered in the spring for the group’s first event and planned future activities, which will provide networking opportunities, cultural events, and raise funds for the new Latina Endowed Scholarship Fund, which Celia inspired and helped to create.
Throughout her life, she exemplified the ideals of Mount Saint Mary’s University: commitment to family and friends, to education, to her community, and to those less fortunate. Her philosophy as she explained it early on was simple but profound: “I learned I have one statement to make and that I do with my life.”