You’re probably one of the youngest members of the faculty with a doctorate?
I think it’s a close race.
Does that put any pressure on you?
I think the pressure comes from personal pressure. i’m aware of some students being just a few years younger than me, and in some cases, when I teach grad school, the average age of the class is older than me. so, it creates its own pressure, and i then want to make sure that they’re aware that I know what I’m talking about. I’m confident in what I know, but at the same time I don’t have an attitude of being better in any way, especially since what some people might lack in degrees they make up in experience that i don’t have.
In class, you’ve mentioned you come from a Texan, Hispanic, Catholic family, and you received both your master’s degree and doctorate from England. That’s a very unique profile for a college professor. What do you bring to California Baptist University that other professors may not bring in the same way?
I think students have this idea that their professors were born to be professors. I feel in many ways that god called me to where I’m at, but I also feel like my path was very winding to get here. there were many things that changed the direction of my life, even just moving out to California. [my wife and I] were deported from england, and that’s what brought us back out to the states and eventually brought us here just a few months later. so, I feel like a different background is one of the reasons why I was brought on.
Why were you and your wife deported from England?
It was on a technicality. they changed legislation, and you had to have a certain amount of money in your bank account 90 days before applying to renew your visa, and we had that money in our account for the 87 days before the application, so we missed the cutoff by three days. they didn’t care that we had two cars that were paid off or a house – none of that. I’m a little bitter in the way we were treated on our exit. there were threats of being arrested, many issues with immigration and a lot of money wasted trying to fight the immigration department. it was like being invited to a very nice party and then being kicked out before everyone else has to leave.
So, if you weren’t deported, you wouldn’t have ended up at CBU.
Yeah, absolutely. it was clear, and I’ve told my wife this many times, that the deportation thing was one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me. I told her that it was basically god’s way of bringing us back this way because if something unfortunate occurred, like the death of one of our parents or something severe like that, we wouldn’t have come back to the states. We had no plans to do so, and I feel like it was god’s way of bringing us back to where he needed us, and for that I’m very thankful.
You’re very open with your students, so we already know that you own a Mustang and a motorcycle and you’re a big “Star Wars” nerd. Is there anything students don’t already know about you that you haven’t told them yet?
Not really. I try to be as self-disclosing as possible because it’s important that students see professors as real people with real interests. I never felt like I was born to be a doctor. i actually wanted to be a mechanic in high school. I didn’t even want to go to college. When I got accepted, I told my dad I wasn’t going to go. Neither one of my parents went to college, so they said, “You’re going to go. You have to go. if you don’t go, we’re going to disown you.” They would have because they had been saving their entire lives so my sister and I could go. So I went, it just clicked and everything went well. But I try to be honest and self-disclosing with my students so they understand I’m not just lecturing from the book. I’m lecturing from life, what I’ve experienced and who I am. It develops a rapport, too, and they feel comfortable. they can come, sit on my couch and we can have a chat about anything.