It wasn’t so long ago that Juan Carlos Vasquez was himself a community college student, earning an AA at Los Angeles City College before transferring to California State University, Long Beach to earn his BA in business.
Given his familiarity with the lives and concerns of students, it’s hardly surprising that Vasquez would be a natural fit for his new job as lead coordinator of the Student Internship Program.
“I understand the struggle of what it means to go to community college, of what it means to be a first-generation college student,” said Vasquez who started his new position in August. “I believe in bringing about changes in the conditions that students are facing. I really have a passion for this.”
Vasquez shuttles between Los Angeles Valley College and Pierce College, where he sets up appointments with students and campus organizations to discuss some of the issues they are facing. Recent meetings have centered around campus responses to homelessness and figuring out new ways to provide water filling stations in order to decrease the use of plastic bottles on campus.
Vasquez recently traveled with a group of LATTC and LACC students to the offices of California State Senator Holly J. Mitchell to advocate for upgraded hydration systems across all nine campuses and for the expansion of Dream Resource Centers.
A native of Los Angeles, Vasquez joined the U.S. Army out of high school. He was stationed in Germany and was deployed to Afghanistan. When he left the service, he continued his education, eventually working at the at the Veterans Resource Center at LACC and at the Office of Multicultural Affairs at CSULB. By the time he reached CSULB, his interest in social justice had become a passion and he explored opportunities to feed that interest.
“Now I want to give back to my community, whether it’s through job opportunities, creating local businesses in my community or working with the union,” said Vasquez, a father of twin boys, who hopes to eventually earn an MPA and a PhD. “My family were immigrants who came from Mexico in the 1970’s and education is a very important value that I want to pass down to my children.”