I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, my mother’s birthplace, and my father was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1955, my family moved to San Ysidro where I attended local schools, including Sunset Elementary, Southwest Junior and Mar Vista High. Upon completing the tenth grade I had to drop out of Mar Vista High School to get a job. After working in several jobs, including washing cars and picking tomatoes, I realized the value of an education.
While working full time, I returned to school in the evening at Mar Vista Adult School. Inspired and motivated by a teacher, Mr. Burke Mills, who took an interest in me, I completed the 11th and 12th grades in six months and earned a high school diploma. More importantly, I found a new direction and mission in life, to join Mr. Mills in helping improve the lives of kids.
While attending college, I became an activist joining the movement to improve the environment and opportunities for the youth of San Ysidro. Under the MAAC Project and later the Economic Opportunity Commission I worked as the director of the San Ysidro Teen Post. Our purpose was to advocate, identify and develop educational and economic opportunities for our youth. Toward that end, I joined the boards of the Chicano Federation, the MAAC Project, The American G.I. Forum, the San Ysidro Clinic, and numerous other organizations.
I earned an A.A. from Southwestern College, a B.A., an M.A., a teaching credential from SDSU, and was the recipient of a Carnegie Fellowship to get my school administration credential from San Diego State University. In 1986, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of returning to Mar Vista High School where I had the unique honor and pleasure of working with Mr. Mills and two of my former teachers, as their principal.
During the thirty-two years that I worked in the Sweetwater District, I served as a teacher aide, a teacher, an assistant principal, and principal in various schools including Southwest Junior, Southwest High, Montgomery Junior, Mar Vista High, Palomar High, National City Junior, and National City Adult School. I was elected to the Sweetwater School District Board of Trustees in 2004 and served for four years.