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Paying It Forward

Sunday, June 14, 2015 - 16:13

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Mario Galicia, Jr.

Mario Galicia, Jr.

Photo Credit: 

George Foulsham

As Mario Galicia, Jr. sees it, education can be a transformative tool not only for individuals but also for entire communities, at the local and even global level. “Once we receive an education, then how we educate next generations is all part of the cycle,” he said. “Education is not just about the individual; it’s about everybody else on which it has an effect.”

Having just completed his Ph.D. — and in education, no less — Galicia knows from whence he speaks.

Galicia learned this particular lesson the hard way. “As a teenager I was picked on, bullied, beat up and it all pushed me into being that same aggressive bully,” he recalled. “As a result, I took on an identity that wasn’t my own. It wasn’t until after high school, when my nephew was born, that I realized I had to be a better role model. I couldn’t tell him that he could accomplish whatever he wanted if he worked hard if I wasn’t willing to do the same thing myself.”

This newfound sense of purpose, along with some serious self-reflection, enabled Galicia to turn his life around. “I figured out that the past is the past,” he said, “and that it’s what we do with the present that helps us move forward.”

Galicia earned his associate’s degree in humanities and social sciences from the Moreno Valley campus of Riverside Community College in 2005 and then transferred to UCSB. Here he has completed bachelor’s degrees in Chicana and Chicano studies and in sociology, a master’s degree in education and now a doctorate in education with an emphasis on cultural perspectives.

After nine years on the UCSB campus, Galicia leaves not only with a world-class education but also with a passion for learning that he is eager to pass on to others. He recently returned from his hometown of San Bernardino where he worked with high school students. “They need a little bit of inspiration and confidence along with some positive messages — things I didn’t have,” Galicia said. “I’m in a position in which I can pay it forward. So my education isn’t really about me but what I can do for them.”

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