Fidel Galvan knows that his hard work, self-motivation and solid sense of responsibility helped him get where he’s at. But when he reflects on what set him up for success, he sees that throughout his life he had a community of people who guided him in the right direction.
There are his parents, who were not well off financially, but made sure to teach him the importance of a good education and did what they could to support his path to college. They also instilled in him independence and a strong work ethic.
There is the basketball coach who mentored a group of high school boys, including Fidel. The coach helped them see the opportunities in front of them, encouraged them to pursue their dreams, and even pointed out scholarship sources like Hispanic Scholarship Fund that might help make college possible.
There’s the college professor that started an engineering internship program that helped launch Fidel’s career. And there was the college Resident Assistant program that he credits for teaching him to organize activities, mentor other students and work with a team of peers.
And there was HSF, whose scholarship helped Fidel pay living expenses while he was in school.
So it was with a heart full of immense gratitude that he accepted his diploma in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Northridge, in 2008. “It wasn’t always easy,” says Fidel. “I struggled with math and chemistry and even thought about switching majors. But I had the support to stick it out and now I’m enjoying my work and looking to a future in the field.”
Fidel started as an intern at Southern California Gas Company and is now an Associate Engineer there. As he gains more experience, he plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree. He hopes to learn more about the project and human management side of his work so that he can help to grow the company.
He’s also continuing to give back to his community because he knows what a difference that a helping hand can make.
Fidel volunteers at HSF outreach events to help students plan for a successful time in college. He tells students to take advantage of all the scholarships available and to keep GPAs above 3.0 to stay viable as a scholarship candidate. He also coaches them on the less obvious things, like getting focused on choosing the right major early so they can graduate in four years and start their careers, and the importance of getting involved while in college by joining clubs or a fraternity or sorority. Fidel says, “Those college years are really special. Getting involved means you meet more people, learn how to network, and give yourself lots of opportunities to grow.”