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Transfer student balances Pacific, life to land engineering job

May 14, 2019

Angel Tejada '19Angel Tejada didn’t know what he wanted to do after graduating from high school in Manteca. While his classmates were anxious about college entrance exams, applications and acceptance letters, he remembers thinking that he would just “go with the flow.”

Having that perspective generally worked out for him, so he decided to put his energy toward enrolling in Modesto Junior College while deciding on his next path. A natural at math and building objects, he gravitated toward the Science, Mathematics and Engineering Division where he took a variety of courses. The enjoyment and success that he achieved in those courses helped him to realize that he wanted a career in electrical engineering.

After completing two years at Modesto Junior College, Tejada transferred to University of the Pacific and enrolled in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. He selected Pacific because the campus provided everything that he needed and was close to home, where his girlfriend and 2-year-old daughter live.

“Being an unconventional student, I’ve had to focus and dedicate myself to becoming the first in my family to graduate from college, while balancing the triad of work, school and family life,” said Tejada. He admits that it’s a juggling act, but somehow he has found time to participate in extracurricular activities and take on student leadership roles.

While at Pacific, he served as treasurer for the local chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and volunteered with Long Way Home in Guatemala to help small communities there solve engineering problems so they could recycle. He also gained experience with the city of Stockton through a cooperative education internship in which he worked on various informational technology and engineering projects.

This year, the School of Engineering and Computer Science faculty selected Tejada for the Heefner Award honoring an electrical engineering student who shows the greatest promise in the workforce.

“My ultimate goal is to contribute toward humanity by making an impact on the way people live their lives,” Tejada said. “I know I can make a way to achieving this goal by pursuing work in the electronics industry.”

As a first-generation college graduate, Tejada sees completing his degree at Pacific as an example for others in his family to follow.

“I want to be an inspiration to the next generations of my family, especially my niece and daughter,” said Tejada, who also counseled the next generation, “Stay determined even when the path isn’t clear. Be flexible. It’s not your job to lay each brick, just to be successful as you walk down your path.”

With those encouraging words that he continually applies to himself, Tejada will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and move to Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend and daughter, where he will work as an associate electronics engineer for Lockheed Martin.

“I’ll make my parents proud and validate the sacrifices they’ve made,” he said.

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