Perseverance, compassion and resilience. These are the traits that we will honor at Homecoming 2018 in this year’s Outstanding Alumnae Awardees: Chamelli Jhappan '79, professional achievement; Natalie (Harris) Martinez ’79, service to community; and Zaira Cedano ’14, rising star.
Zaira Cedano ’14 is the executive director of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, the youngest leader of a county party in California.
Cedano, who earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s in health policy and management from the Mount, says criticism of her age, gender and ethnicity only spur her on.
“To those who only identify me as a ‘young Hispanic woman’ and don’t take into account the hard work it took me to get here, I say I am more than just identity politics,” she says. “I am working hard for the sake of my party and community.”
That strong work ethic came from her parents, who raised Cedano in a household where politics was always discussed. Her parents’ credo, “Work hard toward your goals because nothing is handed to you,” remains a pillar in her own life.
Cedano’s first foray into the political arena came in 2010, volunteering in Meg Whitman’s campaign for California governor.
“Seeing a strong-minded, passionate businesswoman run for governor inspired me. I thought to myself, ‘Whoa! This is what my parents talk about, hard-working and passionate, that could be me,’” she says.
Since then, Cedano has worked in various campaigns for state and local candidates.
What she loves most about her work is taking part in local politics and being involved in her community through registering voters, helping clubs, raising funds and staffing new citizen ceremonies.
She remains connected to the support system she found at the Mount, including her professors and classmates who taught her respect and open-mindedness.
“Being surrounded by strong, independent women who empower one another is what this community is really about,” Cedano says. “(They) are so driven and passionate about changing the world one step at a time, they represent (what we) are capable of if we all came together.”
In the end, she says the only measure of her success will be the positive impact she makes in the city of her birth.
Read about our other 2018 Outstanding Alumnae Award recipients:
Chamelli Jhappan '79, professional achievement
Natalie (Harris) Martinez ’79, service to community