State education officials named Hoover Zariani as a 2014 "Classified Employee of the Year" after being nominated by Glendale Community College earlier this year.
Recipients of the award, given by the California Community College Chancellor's Office, must have proven to have active involvement on community college campuses.
Zariani has served at the helm of the Center for Student Involvement at GCC since 1994, where he has helped coordinate various programs, including a mentorship program that has him recruit students to serve as peer mentors to incoming freshmen.
The center began as a grant-funded program, four years after Zariani became a permanent employee at the college.
He also advises the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and serves on the college's Scholarship Committee as a co-chair, among other activities.
He began working at the college in 1988 answering phones and running errands for employees in the English department before earning degrees in sociology and public administration.
He's currently earning his second master's degree in education.
"I just like learning," he said, and students are among his favorite people to learn from.
"Even to this day, I learn every day from students," he said. "You think you've seen everything in 24 years, but they change…I'm constantly learning, which is why I really love being in this position."
He attributes students' success at GCC to the clubs and organizations on campus where students can thrive and connect to the school outside of the classroom.
Although the campus has about 20,000 students he said, he's hopeful educators there can do their best to connect with each student individually.
"That's hard with 20,000 students, but we need to create spaces where we do that. I think the places where we have that, we see a lot of students who are successful," he said, citing the student government and athletic programs among others.
"They feel connected to the college, they feel connected to their education," he said.
Saodat Aziskhanova, president of the classified employee's union, said Zariani's priority is the students and his role at the college has made him well known in California and across the country among educators.
"Hoover is somebody who cares about students," she said. "That's a number one for him — students… It was well-deserved recognition."
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.
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