Alumni aims to give back to the community, make difference for marginalized groups

Alumni Spotlight


Shanice Davis, Features Editor


As the son of parents who escaped poverty and homelessness, Arnold Burgos knows the importance of earning an education and intends on seeking his full potential.

Burgos graduated in May 2015, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Justice Studies.

Being a first generation college student, Burgos appreciates his degree and the struggles he’s encountered in order to be where he is today.

“Being a first generation college student and seeing firsthand the effects of poverty, higher education is less of an idea and more of a dream. But I was motivated to make my parents’ dream come true and show them that those starving nights didn’t go to waste,” said Burgos.

As an undergrad, Burgos was also involved in Student Support Services, where he received guidance in personal, academic and transitional support. He also built a relationship with a man he calls a mentor, Joe Ledesma.

“He guided me from an era of hardship and pain to a transitioned era of potential and success,” said Burgos.

In addition to his help, Burgos said Ledesma taught him a lot.

“He taught me that what’s vital to low-income first-generation students is optimism and positivism,” said Burgos. “We face so many challenges, obstacles, stigmas and labels to the point where one might feel completely hopeless and lost. But, we’re never hopeless nor lost; just in need of a little guidance.”

Since graduating, Burgos has been furthering his education while working.

“I began the master’s program, Sociological Practices, the same year I graduated. Thus, I took it upon myself to ease on working for the San Diego Public Defense Office,” said Burgos.

Burgos is also working with Professor Mary Jo Poole on a community project.

“We are working on integrating the Vista community with some type of gender inequality awareness and the effects it has on today’s rape culture and domestic violence,” said Burgos.

Even though his schedule is busy nowadays, this is just the beginning of his future with multiple possibilities.

“Either I see myself pursuing a doctorate, or I see myself working as a public defense investigator. Whichever I decide, it will include an abundant list of community projects.”

“I would love to work with the youth, the homeless, the incarcerated, the LGBTQ community, a lot of marginalized cultures and help seek for a greater cause,” said Burgos.

Burgos said that he will be content with whatever he chooses to do, as long as he has his daughter by his side.

As for advice for upcoming graduates, Burgos urges for graduates to stay in contact with their professors as they can help you get your foot in the door for opportunities. He also encourages students to give back to the community, mentor today’s youth and be driven by motivation and vulnerability.

“Don’t be afraid to apply yourself or show your vulnerability. Your vulnerability is only a strength in the making,” said Burgos.

In order to keep himself on his toes, Burgos said he lives by his mother’s saying, “Ponte las baterias!” Just her cute way of saying ‘Get your sh** together.’”