Hard work, committed partnership, and perseverance; these are the hallmarks of the inspirational success story of Hilario and Carmen Payan—named 2016 Farmworkers of the Year.
Upon arrival to Sonoma County, Hilario and Carmen had big dreams and little else. Hilario went to work in the vineyards, working hard to make ends meet for his growing family while Carmen cared for their children. But tough times prevailed and Carmen soon realized that education was the ticket out of poverty for her familia. So, with Hilario working long hours, Carmen began taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. She learned English, earned her Associates Degree and transferred to Sonoma State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and then a Master’s Degree in Spanish. With Hilario’s encouragement and support, Carmen achieved success beyond the couple’s dreams, teaching Spanish at Sonoma State University and becoming a parent mentor and recruiter for Migrant Education. Through Carmen’s dedication and strong work ethic, migrant families throughout Sonoma County have been connected to Migrant Education’s vital services. During the holidays, Carmen volunteers to ensure migrant families have food and gifts. Together, she and Hilario have raised five exceptional children, including Joel, who is an engineer for Intel; Sofia, who is a Medical Assistant; Olga who has earned her Associates Degree, Maria, who is in a Masters Degree program with a dual emphasis in Special Education and Child Development; and Reyna, who has an Associates Degree and is working for AT&T. Together, theirs is a shining story of immigrant success in Sonoma County and an inspirational example of what’s possible with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
The Board of Directors and Staff of California Human Development are honored to name Hilario and Carmen Payan as CHD’s 2016 Farmworkers of the Year.