Dr. Jill Zimmerman Named L.A. County Woman of the Year for Her Work with Students in Need, Fostering Animals

Submitted by webmaster on Thu, 03/02/2023 - 10:12

Dr. Jill Zimmerman LANCASTER, CA — Dr. Jill Zimmerman, Dean of Student Life at Antelope Valley College, will be recognized as Los Angeles County’s Fifth District Woman of the Year during the 38th annual awards on Monday, March 13, college officials announced today.

Dr. Zimmerman, who is well-known around the AV College campus for having a big heart and opening up her home to homeless students and fostering homeless cats and dogs, is no stranger to the County. She is a member of the County’s homeless steering committee, and partners regularly with the departments of Public Health and Mental Health. As Dean of Student Life, she oversees AV College's Basic Needs programs, making sure students have access to food, shelter, transportation, mental health services and much more.

“How can a student do homework when they’re living in a tent?” Dr. Zimmerman asked. “How do we as a campus make things easier for them… How do we change the structure so that their hopes and dreams can become a reality?”

In her 22 years of service at AV College, Dr. Zimmerman has worked to address many of the obstacles she sees getting in the way of student success.

“We’ve all had struggles. Life sometimes interferes and students get off track. The programs I’ve started are because students’ hopes, desires and dreams deserve a place that can make them real.”

Dr. Zimmerman is Founder and President of Jill’s Acres, a private foundation she operates from her home where she supports and houses homeless students and rescues and rehabilitates homeless animals.

“I can’t think of a better candidate for this award in our community,” said Dr. Jennifer Zellet, Superintendent/President of AV College. “Jill has a reputation on campus as someone who is always ready to give, someone who truly cares, loves and respects life, which is why she’s willing to provide shelter to so many students and animals who would otherwise be homeless. No one deserves this recognition more.”

And while she’s deeply honored and humbled to receive the award, Dr. Zimmerman says her greatest reward is seeing students when they come back and share their college and career successes with her.

“I do what I do because it needs to be done,” Dr. Zimmerman said.

She recalled one student who had an 11-month-old and was living in her car. That was unacceptable to Dr. Zimmerman, who immediately took her in. That same student has now graduated from Cal State Bakersfield and is considering graduate programs.

As student needs have evolved, the Basic Needs program has updated its services. For example, now students have access to day bags, which contain ready to eat meals because many students do not have access to kitchens and cooking materials. Students also have access to vision and dental health services.

“We’re just helping them along the journey,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “If we do our work right, their journey will be exciting, rewarding and successful.”

Dr. Zimmerman is one of 13 women who will be recognized during L.A. County’s 38th annual Women of the Year awards and Commemorative Celebration on March 13 at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Los Angeles. Among the other honorees, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass will receive the President’s Award.

Last updated: March 2, 2023