Today's Featured Biography
The day after I graduated from L.A. High, I began work as a Senior Counselor at a summer camp for Down’s syndrome children. When the camp ended, I moved to Portland, Oregon, for the balance of the summer – working as a process cameraman for a printing firm.
As summer came to a close, I was met by Roy Arian, whom I had met in Ms. Edwards’ 10th grade American Literature class at L.A. High, and we began a year-long hiatus, ala Route 66 style. We purchased a 1950 Ford, and traveled around the United States, living and working for a time in Tucson and New Orleans. Because of the training I had received in Fred Sherwin’s print shop classes at L.A. High, I worked in the printing trades in both of these cities.
Living in New Orleans for about six months, in early 1962, I gained a new perspective on race relations. Overt segregation and racial tensions, and the resultant distrust of a person because of his/her skin color, replaced the covert relations I had grown up with in Southern California. The world was harsher, rawer, than the life I had known in West Los Angeles and at L.A. High.
Our travels took us to Memphis, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, and Chicago. From here we began our trip home, following Route 66 from its beginnings in Chicago, to its terminus in Santa Monica.
During the summer of 1962, I became a participant in a peace walk that was sponsored by the Committee for Non-Violent Action (CNVA). The night before I left for the march, Roy announced that he had enlisted in the Army, and would be off to Fort Ord for basic training. We talked about our chosen paths long into the night.
The next day I left for San Diego, where we gathered at San Diego State University. There was a presentation on campus that evening, and I was one of a number of participants who were asked to speak as to their motivation to participate in this trek. Unbeknownst to me, my future spouse was in the audience, and she asked her parents if she could join the march while it was in San Diego.
The march began at Point Loma and ended in Vallejo; I walked from Point Loma to Salinas, at which point I took my leave to begin college at Cal Poly-SLO . . . in Printing Engineering and Management.
My future spouse, Nancy, returned to the walk at Oxnard and walked to Santa Barbara. By the time she left, we knew that our futures would be a shared one.
After two years at Cal Poly, I withdrew to get married. Nancy and I were married in July of 1964, in La Jolla, and we began married life in East Los Angeles. Subsequently, I obtained a job in the UCLA Bookbindery, and so in the summer of 1965 we moved to West Los Angeles, and then to Santa Monica. We became parents to two wonderful children (Bruce and Cynthia).
I returned to college, first at Santa Monica College, and then at CSU-Northridge, finally obtaining my B.A. degree in Political Science in 1971.
Then off to the University of Arizona (in Tucson) where I obtained my M.A. degree in Political Science in 1973.
Near the end of the summer of 1973, I was hired by El Paso Community College, in El Paso, Texas. This was a new college, having opened its doors in 1971. It had no permanent funding, and it was housed in military buildings on Ft. Bliss that the College was able to lease from the military for a nickel per square foot, plus utilities. In these early years, EPCC was heavily dependent upon federal grants for its operating budget.
The next year, 1974, was a pinnacle year for me; I was elected President of the Joint Faculty-Administrative Senate, and the College President, Dr. Alfredo G. de los Santos, Jr., asked me to assist the college in a funding activity that would begin in the summer of 1974, and end in a bond and tax election during the fall semester. Overtly, my task was to carry out a survey of the community regarding their attitudes toward the college. Covertly, my task was to put together a grassroots political organization for the bond and tax election. This threw me into interaction with EPCC’s Board of Trustees, most especially its Board Chairman, Mr. Joe Foster. Because of this activity, I was privileged to meet the political movers and shakers within the entire County of El Paso.
On September 21, 1974, a majority of the voters cast their votes in favor of $19.7 million in construction bonds and $0.25/$100 assessed valuation local property tax, providing EPCC for the first time a permanent tax base, which would also allow it to obtain Texas state legislative funds as well. Unfortunately, the laws of Texas at that time favored “property owner” votes over those of “non-property owner” votes, so the outcome was unclear until the U.S. Supreme Court declared us the winner in the case of Hill v. Stone (1975). Out of this, two campuses were constructed: the Valle Verde Campus and the Transmountain Campus (where my office is currently located). Over the years, the College has grown to five full-service campuses, with a sixth in the planning stages, and from 3700 students when I arrived, to over 33,000 students today.
I have now completed my 36th year as a full-time Professor of Government at EPCC. I am also an adjunct Professor of Political Science at Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Branch Community College, in Ruidoso, NM. I have also taught recently at the University of Phoenix in Southern New Mexico.
Nancy and I will celebrate our 45th anniversary this July by returning to San Diego for a few days of relaxation – and baseball!
Our children have provided us with four beautiful grandchildren: Hannah Rose (who lives in Chatsworth), and Isaak Rey, Cienna Nicole, and Isaiah Matthew (who live in El Paso).
My friendship continues with my good friend, Roy Arian, who recently retired in Oklahoma. He has married a wonderful woman, Martha, who is a member of the Sac and Fox tribe.
My time at L.A. High was not my happiest chapter, but it fully prepared me to embrace life to its fullest and to deal with its challenges. It provided me a racial and religious balance that helped to nurture tolerance and open acceptance that would not have occurred at other high schools in 1957-61.
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