Board Q&A: Rowene Aguirre-Medina

Nov. 7, 2023
Rowene Aguirre-Medina, Roy Medina, and Innovation Circle Scholar Zoey Rubinoff

Rowene Aguirre-Medina, Roy Medina, and Innovation Circle Scholar Zoey Rubinoff

Rowene Aguirre-Medina is originally from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, and is a graduate of the University of Arizona. She and her husband, Roy, also fund the Mary Bernard Aguirre Professorship in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies in honor of Rowene’s great-grandmother, who taught the first Spanish-language and English history classes at UArizona. Recently, Rowene was named SBS Advisory Board chair. Here, she talks about her values and what she hopes to accomplish in her new role.

What motivated you to take on the role of board chair?

I believe the lessons learned in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences can change the world in real, unmeasurable ways. Also, so much of what we study impacts me and my family.

How do your volunteer passions manifest in your role on the SBS board?

I have volunteered my whole life for things I care about. I’ve advocated for equity and education for women and girls. Why? Well, I was raised by my father who told stories of my great-grandmother — one of the first women faculty members at the University of Arizona. I was in high school in the 50s, when women only played half-court basketball. At home though, I got the message from my father that I could play full court. Border issues affected me personally — I grew up living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. So much of what is studied in SBS also addresses many of the issues that have impacted my life.

What key initiatives or projects do you hope to champion during your tenure as chair? 

Our new strategic plan is a concise, clear roadmap for SBS as a college and a way to best support Dean Lori Poloni-Staudinger, which is an important function of the board. Additionally, I would like to see us, as a board, increase Innovation Circle membership. It’s a wonderful vehicle that supports students and helps donors get to know students and fellow donors. Roy and I sponsored the same scholar for three years. Last graduation, we were honored to attend her graduation party to celebrate with her family. What a privilege, as donors, to be a small part of her accomplishment.

Transitioning into a leadership role can be exciting and challenging. Can you share a memorable anecdote from your journey to becoming chair?

Life has a way of working as it is supposed to work. When we moved back to Arizona from California, I left behind years of volunteer and leadership roles with the American Association of University Women and other charitable organizations. One day I received an invitation from Gender and Women’s Studies to the dedication of the Women’s Plaza of Honor. I was invited because Roy and I had honored my great-grandmother by placing a tile for her in the Plaza. That was the day I began my journey back to the University and found a place for my volunteer passion, energy and experience.


This story was included in the fall 2023 Developments newsletter.