Political Science, 1982; Master of Arts in Teaching, 1988
School of Education
April 1, 2014
“I decided on Santa Ana as the place where I wanted to center my energies.”
I am proud to be a graduate of UC Irvine. Clearly my road to that status, and my road since then, has been anything but linear. But it has been rich, and remarkably enriched by my experiences at UCI.
As a product of a bicultural bilingual marriage, with an immigrant father and a migrant mother, in the nineteen fifties I was not predestined to land at UC Irvine, or any other UC campus. Nevertheless, I graduated from UCI with a degree in political science in 1982, and I am a better person for that experience. Whether in a professor’s office, in the campus pub, or in the RV of a grad student (I am no doubt dating myself with that comment – there was an RV park on campus!), I learned and I grew at UCI. I met innumerable mentors and guides who helped me establish and clarify a set of values that I consider essential to my daily existence more than four decades later:
- I am essentially in control of my destiny.
- I am not alone in this world; I can help others, and others can help me.
- A life that does not positively impact other lives is not worth living; therefore I will leave this earth better than I found it.
After a few years, yes years, not months, of wandering through life and South America, I settled back in The OC, more convinced than ever that my core values were worthy of fulfilling. I returned to UCI to earn my teaching credential. I had already decided upon Santa Ana as the place where I wanted to center my energies. Santa Ana has incredible challenges, and I wanted to be part of the solutions to those challenges. Professor Billie Nave Masters made an everlasting impact upon me when she taught my classmates and me to take students from wherever they are to a point further down the road toward a life fulfilled through education and high self-expectations. Her sentiments appealed to my core values, laid down before, during, and after my UCI experience.
I have dedicated my last 25 years to Santa Ana, in spite of unmentionable obstacles, because I still hold those core values. I live in the city, I serve on the Planning Commission for the city, and my four children have studied in our schools. My core values have brought me to my current position as the principal of one of the lowest-performing high schools in the OC.
To this day, I take my relationship with UC Irvine very seriously. I work closely with the UCI Center for Educational Partnerships and the School of Education, and I am proud to host over twenty student teachers from UCI this school year. Working in a school such as the one I lead is a lot like Sinatra’s “New York, New York” because if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I am confident that the UCI teacher candidates who complete their student teaching with us are among the best in their classes, and we hire as many of them as we can. Our students benefit enormously from the contact they have with UCI undergraduate tutors and student teachers, who serve as role models as well as educators. Many of our students come from troubled homes, in troubled neighborhoods, and our vocation is to show them that education can help lift them from poverty, without losing touch with their cultural and geographical roots. We try to bring out the resiliency, the persistency, the grit, in each one them. Our task is to prepare them for a future we cannot see, for jobs that don’t yet exist, by supporting their development as creative, collaborative critical thinkers and communicators. UC Irvine supports this work, and I am grateful for both my past experiences and my current relationship with UC Irvine.
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