Donicio “Don” Jensen-Bobadilla began working at South Mountain Community College in 1987 as a Processing Technician. Before that, he was a founder of the Phoenix College MEChA chapter as a student in the 1980s. Throughout his career, Don has served in many roles for the Maricopa Community College District. In 2018, he returned to SMCC as a Program Analyst in the Office of Organizational Effectiveness and Technology.
Donicio “Don” Jensen-Bobadilla was born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and lived there until the age of 6. He is the youngest in his family with two older siblings that passed away at a young age. His father was born in Princeton, Minnesota while his mother was born in Villa Hidalgo, Nayarit, Mexico. His parents met in Nogales, Mexico at a café called “Cafeteria Leos” where his mom worked as a waitress and his dad worked as a freight truck driver.
Living by the border as a child, Don had to become fluent in both Spanish and English. He was a studious over-achiever, and hard-working. He enjoyed reading which was something that helped him study as much as he did. In Nogales, he attended a tiny school by the name of Santa Maria. At a young age, he knew he wanted to study especially with the pressure of his parents since both did not have much of an education.
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When Don was six, he and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. They lived in a neighborhood in the south part of the city. At first, he struggled adapting since the culture was entirely different. On his very first day of school in a new country, he stood up from his seat to respond to his teacher. This was the norm in Mexico’s schools and it was seen as a sign of respect. He quickly learned that was not traditional in the US. It took him some time to get used to the culture and eventually he was able to adapt. At this time in Arizona, there weren’t many stores around their home, so his family had to drive miles to the nearest store. As Don recalls, from a young age he had to learn “un poco de todo” (a little of everything) in the transition of his family’s new life and everything that came with it. Many times, he was the middle man, the translator, who helped fill out documents for his parents.
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After high school, Don Jensen-Bobadilla attended Phoenix College and received an Associates in Applied Science. He started working at South Mountain Community College in 1987 as an Information Processing Technician. Soon after in 1988, he enrolled as a student there. During his time working and as a student, he met his wife in the school’s cafeteria. Don Jensen-Bobadilla remembers South Mountain being different to how it’s seen today. Back when he first started working, South Mountain was small with few buildings, but he remembers there being many trees.
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Don Jensen-Bobadilla accomplished many things during his time working at South Mountain. He took on many leadership roles and during his time he had an opportunity to be invited to many initiatives. In short he was: elected as president for the Professional Staff Association, was elected to the Executive Board for the Professional Staff Association for the entire district, a MeCHa advisor, part of Aguila Youth Leadership, a part of Aliento, a part of ASU American Dream Academy, and was nominated and received the distinctive 2018 Pillar Award.
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Mexican Americans weren’t as engaged in school or in roles the way he was, and this was something that made him want to become more active in the community. He wanted Mexican Americans to understand that their voice was important. Don Jensen-Bobadilla mentioned that one of his reasons he liked to work on the campus at South Mountain was to give words of advice to Mexican Americans so they can embrace their culture and become “the new generation of voices that need to be heard.” For this reason, Don Jensen-Bobadilla has been seen as a role model by many.
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When asked about his legacy, Don has said he simply wants people to know, “that I cared, I gave heart, and I’m here for students and for employees, too” “I’m trying to help things get better, if I can.” Lastly, Don has said and proved with his actions and life that, “if you have the drive and the passion, the world is yours.”
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Student interviewer: Dair Figueroa
Student writers: Ana Gonzalez and Andrea Alonso, Spring 2020