TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association (FEA) has honored Sergia Cardenas, the first Hispanic councilwoman of Pierson, Fla., with the FEA Cesar Chavez Action and Commitment Award, presented annually in recognition of outstanding leadership through engaging in activities that dignify workers and by making notable contributions to the labor movement.
Born in Selma, Calif., to undocumented Mexican parents who later became U.S. residents, Cardenas moved as an infant with her family to Pierson. She attended local public schools and worked with her parents in Volusia County’s fern fields during summer vacations. She graduated from T. Dewitt Taylor High School in 2002.
In addition to serving as a member of Pierson’s Town Council, Cardenas currently works for the 7th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Her supervisor in the Court Interpreter Department, Candra Erickson, writes on her behalf: “Most recently, I had the honor of assisting Sergia in her campaign to become the first Hispanic female elected to the Pierson Town Council. She has a tremendous drive and commitment to improving the quality of life for the residents of Pierson and providing a voice for the very often-marginalized immigrant community, which make up a large percentage of its residents. Sergia is not afraid to confront the status quo that has been in leadership positions in Pierson since the town’s inception. She may seem quiet and unimposing on the surface, yet she is always listening, analyzing and planning the next step in making her community a more inclusive place for all. She consistently stands up for what is right even when it is an unpopular opinion or when her progressive ideals are met with resistance. I cannot think of a more suitable candidate to receive this award.”
Previously, Cardenas worked with Stanton Law Group. As a legal secretary there, she provided interpretation for attorney John Stanton and Hispanic clients, and became a trusted advisor to those clients who was called upon to translate English documents, notarize documents, officiate at weddings and provide help in applying for assistance.
From 2012 to 2017, she worked with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a local nonprofit organization. RCMA gave her the opportunity to work with low-income migrant children and their families. Her experiences led her to take basic immigration law training, so that she could better help those families, and to enter the legal field.
Cardenas was honored at the FEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Gala on Oct. 14 at the Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, during the FEA Delegate Assembly. The Cesar Chavez Action and Commitment Award, presented to Cardenas and Karla Hernandez, was one of five statewide awards presented at the event.
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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.