By Maria Beebe, with Thelma Boac
“THE District 4 Council Office congratulates Thelma for being recognized as Citizen of the Year, and we thank her for her service to our community. She is, indeed, a Community Hero.”
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021, Thelma Boac received the Citizen of the Year Award, the first Filipina ever to be honored by the Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council (BCAC) San Jose, CA.
Present at the event (Zoom) were many elected officials from both the City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara and elected representatives from the State of California who spoke of congratulations and appreciations and presented Thelma with commendations.
Thelma Boac was born in Bohol, Philippines, and came to America at the age of 10 and lived with her adoptive parents in Grover Beach, California, where her adoptive father was one of the original Filipinos who immigrated to America in the early 1900s to search for a better life.
He was a World War II Veteran and a farmer who owned his land like many of the old-timers in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County in California. Her adoptive mother was the older sister of her mother, who lost her first husband and young children during World War II during the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines. Thelma wrote about this in “My Two Mothers: A Legacy Born” in Disrupt 2.0. Filipina Women: Daring to Leadedited by Maria A. Beebe.
Thelma became an English, Spanish, History, and Music teacher and taught for many years before becoming an administrator and high school principal. Thelma retired after almost 40 years in education from the East Side Union High School District but continues to be involved in education. She worked as a contributing faculty member for San Jose State University and The National Hispanic University supervising and training graduate students entering the teaching profession. Currently, Thelma is also a professional leadership coach for newly appointed principals and school administrators in Santa Clara County, working with the Office of Education. Thelma was re-elected twice by the voters to serve on the School Board since the November 2014 election.
At present, Thelma serves as the president of the Berryessa Union School District Governing Board of Trustees. She attended San Francisco State University, the University of Granada, Spain, and San Jose State University and holds a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Administration and Supervision.
Thelma Boac is the recipient of many awards, recognized by many organizations for her commitment to serving the community and her contributions to public education, and for being an exemplary leader in the Filipino community. To name a few, she is the recipient of the Filipino American Pioneer Award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award, and the San Jose Local Hero Award by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (20th District). Thelma is one of the recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Women Awards given by the Ivy Rose Community Foundation, Inc. and the members of the Eta Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
The Distinguished Women awards celebrate women’s significant accomplishments who are trailblazers in their fields and are well respected within and beyond their communities. Thelma is also recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the US by the Filipina Women’s Network, a world-wide organization strongly advocating the advancement of women leaders in all sectors, and to stopping violence against women and girls. A well-loved and well-respected community leader, Thelma now uses her extensive knowledge of education to lead the Berryessa Union School District as a Trustee.
Thelma is an advocate for educators of color and has served as President of the Silicon Valley Filipino American Movement in Education (Fame). The group influenced the East Side Union High School District in the recruitment of teachers from the Philippines to mirror the student population in the district in the content areas of Math, Science, and Special Education. Now, Thelma has motivated some of these teachers to give back as Kaisipan Dalub Guros.
Thelma is married to Dan Boac, a retired aerospace engineer and has two adult children and four grandchildren.