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Employee Spotlight: Robert Garcia

Employee Spotlight: Robert Garcia

October 21, 2021

Read here, the transcription from the live interview between Coyote Radio and Advertising Social Media Director and Blog writer, Eloy Garcia and PDC interim Assistant Director for Information Technology Robert Garcia.

Rob: “Good morning, Eloy. My name is Robert Garcia, I’m an information technology consultant in the division of IT services. I spent the last six years as the web liaison in the services unit, and beginning Monday, I’ll be starting a new exacting position out at our Palm Desert campus, as the interim Assistant Director for Information Technology.”

Eloy: “Congratulations Rob, that’s wonderful. How do you feel?”

Rob: “Thanks Eloy, I’m excited. You know, I’ve been here 22 years, and I’ve worked in a variety of roles. For a little while in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Education; and again, the last six years here in the division of Information Technology. So now I’m getting this new challenge to go help out at our Palm Desert campus. The current director just recently retired, and so I’m in an interim position to help out, and our goal of course is always student success. We’re going to work to bring technology and expand access and reach to our students in the Coachella Valley.

Eloy: “That’s really wonderful, and where did you go to school, and what degree do you hold?”

Rob: “So I’m a proud graduate of UCLA. Graduated 32 years ago with a BA in geography, but with a specialty in geographic information systems, which you might know more commonly as mapping technology. I got a great education and I’m very proud to be a Bruin, but I’m also very proud to be a Coyote.”

Eloy: “What projects or aspects of your job are you most proud of?”

Rob: “Well certainly there’s a lot of projects that we’ve had over the 22 years. But the two or three really important projects that I feel very close to. First one is our Latino Education and Advocacy Days Summit. Every year for the last 12 years, we’ve had an outstanding education summit that focuses on the crisis in Latino education. Working with colleagues across the campus and across the CSU, we bring together community activists, educators, students, and parents to discuss the issues that affect our communities; and I’m so proud to be a part of that because we’ve been pioneers in the use of technology. So that we can take what was initially a very small conference and we’ve had audiences as big as several hundred thousand people who’ve tuned in over what has become a weeklong look at the crisis in education. And so, we want folks to tune in, if you’ll go to, it’s a great website we’ve got information about our upcoming conference and Cheech Marin, of Cheech and Chong fame is going to be our keynote speaker; and so, I hope your audience will come out and check it out; and Eloy I’d like to have you come out as well. Spend the day and hear what our experts have to talk about. I think it’s a very worthwhile investment of your time.”

Eloy: “Absolutely, thank you so much, and that’s really wonderful and important work that you’re doing, that’s really impressive that you’ve been able to open up the summit to so many people.      

Rob: “Yeah. You know, we were surprised ourselves, but when you have the right technology, when you have the right people, and the right message it’s amazing how effectively technology can reach beyond what used to be very limited boundaries of the campus. Now we can touch people and educators on the other side of the country. And the one thing we’ve learned during our summits is that Latino parents in East LA have the same issues that Latino parents in New York and Texas and even in North Carolina have in getting their children to college. It is an important issue affecting our communities, there’s still much to be done. Every year we graduate first-generation families with degrees and that work is incredible, I love it, but there’s still a lot of work to do. You know you had asked me about some other projects, and I wanted to call attention to those because again, what was great about those projects were the people I had an opportunity to work with. The first is the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the big, beautiful building there on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino. I was part of the original planning team that took on that task, and so if you’ll go into that building, you’ll see that it’s outfitted with the latest technology. The classrooms are modern and take advantage of all the important tools that students need these days to compete in the classroom. And so, I’m very proud of that project, but I’m even more proud of the collaboration that it requires to bring that kind of facility online. There were literally hundreds of people in that project and just one of the great memories. And of course, the other project was the College of Education building, which is there on the campus, 100,000 square feet, dedicated to preparing teachers. If there’s anything we’ve learned with COVID, man teachers are so important. So important. We trust our children with them, and so the College of education does an important mission in preparing teachers, educators, and administrators for their role in our community; and I’m proud to have been part of that. I hope folks will check out the college of ed, a teaching career is an honorable career and we’re good at it here at Cal State, in preparing folks to become teachers. Those three projects have been just, the highlights of my career Eloy, and I just feel so fortunate to have had those chances to perform.”

Eloy: “Thank you so much for the important role that you play in the infrastructure of CSUSB at main campus, and now at Palm Desert campus.”

Rob: “Yeah, my pleasure. You know Eloy, it’s an honor to work here at Cal State, and it’s all about one thing. About making sure our students are successful in the classroom. You know, 40 years ago I was just like you, right. I was a student just trying to get by, trying to find my place, trying to find myself, and education transformed my life. I was from a small city in Southeast Los Angeles, and you know, didn’t have any particular ambitions other than I wanted a good family life and have some children. But man, education transformed me, and it has been a blessing ever since; and to have a job on this campus has literally been the blessing of a lifetime, so thank you for having me today, I enjoy talking to you. Again, you got to come out to PDC, and I hope pay a visit one day with you.”

Eloy: “Absolutely, happy too, and how long have you been working at CSUSB?”

Rob: “So I’ve been with Cal State San Bernardino 22 years, I’ve been in the IT industry almost 40 years. I’ve had a great deal of experience in the public sector and government consulting, but I really found my heart here at Cal State San Bernardino. In fact, I didn’t even know of the campus until I applied for the job when I found the listing, and it’s just a wonderful campus. More importantly than the campus the people. The faculty, the staff, and the students. Man, I love coming and interacting with the students, I get that energy that you have, and I see that our role is important. We need to do those things that support the mission, which is to transform the lives of our students, and to support student success. You know Dr. Morales often says at his public engagements, that every role, every employee here plays a critical role in the success of our students, and I think I bought in to that idea. I didn’t need to be out front; I could do my role behind the scenes. Behind the camera, behind the classroom, behind the chalk board and it be meaningful. I see that when we all work together, our students are the best, and having gone to UCLA I can tell you with great confidence that the quality education that you get here at Cal State San Bernardino is on the same level as UCLA. In fact, in many ways, it’s even better because it’s a smaller more personal university. We have the best students, and the Coyotes can compete with the Bruins on any day.”

Eloy: “Speaking of your department and your division, why are the ITS divisions and your specific area so important to the campus?”

Rob: “Well, our role, Eloy, is to support the delivery of education, and we do that here in ITS services by providing and maintaining the technological infrastructure that is needed to do that. We’re like a small city, in fact we’re not like a small city, we are a small city. We have energy, electricity, internet, telephone communications, wireless communications. We have a very sophisticated 21st century technology, that takes some talented people to manage for you. To make it secure and safe, but more importantly to make it relevant to your education. We learned kind of the hard way with COVID, that wireless technology, it’s great if you have it, but if it’s not performing well, it doesn’t help you in a classroom when you’re listening to a critical lecture and the technology is breaking up. We understand that every student whether you live 5 minutes from campus or fifty miles from campus, deserves and requires the same infrastructure so that you have equal access. And so, our goal is to make sure that that happens, but the other part of it Eloy, is to share our knowledge, our experiences because we were, again, once students and so we understand what you’re going through. In fact, many of our staff also teach classes at the university; and so, it’s just a great combination of folks that we have here in ITS. If you’ll check out our computer labs or our wireless, we’re here to support you. We have the Technology Support Center in case you have any issues. They have free software, there’s all kinds of great programs. So, if you’re new to the university and you’re not sure about all the technological resources available to you, please contact our Technology Support Center and we’re glad to help you out.”

Eloy: “Thank you so much Rob. What is your favorite place to travel? Is there somewhere you would love to go but haven’t been yet?”

Rob: “Well there’s many places I haven’t been yet that I’d love to go. In fact, just a few weeks ago I did a drive across the Utah desert, that I thought was absolutely beautiful and stunning landscapes that I’d never seen before. So, I’d really like to travel more across the country, but I really would like to go to Asia. I’d like to see the orient and to see another part of the world that I’ve never been. You know, having come from East LA, never got out too much beyond the boundaries of our little city; so, I know there’s a big world out there and I’d like to see it someday. God willing, when my time is done here at Cal State San Bernardino, I’ll be able to travel and enjoy those sites.”

Eloy: “What are some of your favorite foods?”


Rob: “Man, I love to eat. Recently I’ve enjoyed Brazilian, what they call Churrascaria, which is their meat lovers BBQ style food, it’s great. Of course, I love Chinese food and Thai food, but I grew up you know, eating just Latino Mexican food. My mom was a great cook.”

Eloy: “What are some of your interesting hobbies and special talents?”  

Rob: “One thing most people don’t know about me is I studied Taekwondo for 15 years, and I hold a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo in the world Taekwondo federation. And Eloy, that was also a very, very important phase of my life. I stared training right after graduating from UCLA. It had been one of my lifelong dreams, as a kid growing up wanting to be Bruce Lee and take Karate classes. We couldn’t afford it when I was a kid, but when I graduated from college, I could finally afford that, and I studied at a studio in Rancho Cucamonga with the same master J. Kim for 15 years. It really affected my life in appositive way. A lot of folks go on to get master’s degrees and PhD’s, at that time I wanted to get good physical training. I had read a book in college written by a lot of businesses top leaders, and without exception they all said amongst other qualities for success, that good health and fitness was critical to success and in fact a lot of the top leaders had always been exercising and training their bodies, and so that message hit home with me. It was something I always wanted to do. I found a great studio and I just fell in love with Taekwondo, it really changed my life, changed my body and it toughened me up, and it really added a layer of my development that is still with me today. You know, the best apart about the experience were all the people I got to meet. In fact, some of my students, my little kindergarten students I’ve actually seen them here taking classes, 20 years after they studied at our studio. That was a great moment to see that, and again, it’s been several of those folks. Martial Arts training whether its Taekwondo or any type is a good form of discipline, and if you can’t do those or you don’t like getting smacked, do something right, just don’t   be a couch potato.”

Eloy: “Wow, that’s really impressive, and I believe a really wonderful full-circle moment. When you see your former students taking classes now at the university where you work.”

Rob: “Yes in fact this happened maybe a year ago. I was walking across campus and a young man, well, he’s not a young man now, he’s a tall man. Came up to me and he bowed. And of course, I recognized him right away, I just couldn’t remember his name. He had been one of my students who went on to get his black belt. But even better than that, he went on to become a teacher, and he graduated from our program here at Cal State San Bernardino and now he’s a teacher in one of the local school districts. That is what I’m most proud of, is that he would go on to have a great life and great career. When he stopped me on campus, he just reminded me of how good it is to see people grow and make something of their lives and fulfill their potential. And that was the great thing about Taekwondo is you work to fill your potential, and that’s what we do here at the university right? Is to find whatever you’re going to be, whatever journey you’re going to travel, our job is to get you ready for that. Because the world is very competitive, you know that Eloy, we understand that here and we have a good program. A lot of kids, thousands of kids in fact, we have seen graduate from this campus and go on to bigger and better things. I really believe that, that if you come here, you can go anywhere.

Eloy: “What is your favorite TV show or movie?”

Rob: “Well, my favorite TV show over the years has been Seinfeld. I just love comedy and I love to laugh, and for the longest time I got hooked on that show. I’d just watch it every day, and what I learned from that though, is that you need to laugh, right? You work hard every day, but you need to take time to laugh you need to take time to not take things so seriously. There’s something about comedy that really strikes at the truth, that’s why we laugh so hard sometimes, because we know, we’ve been in there, we’ve been part of that joke. But lately I’ve been watching the Dave Chappelle series of comedy shows on Netflix and I highly recommend that. He is a great comedian, he is very insightful, and I think he’s in touch with the current generation, and he’s saying some pretty interesting things and I would encourage folks to check that out. My favorite movie, probably White Tiger. It was academy award nominated for best picture, and it was about a story of growing up in India, and what it’s like to be part of the underclass and how difficult it is to be successful in India because of their system. It’s the story of a young man who comes from the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low in their country and rises to succeed. It’s a story of his journey to get there and what he was willing to do, and it was just a great movie and I encourage people to watch it because it really tells a story that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. That’s one level, but you can succeed to the highest level when you find your passion, and that’s the beautiful part of the story. And so that’s what we’re trying to do here right? We’re not just trying to educate you and teach you because believe me, the minute you graduate you forget, what was that chemistry formula? How do you solve for that unknown variable? Nobody remembers that stuff, but you remember your passion. And so, if you could find your passion here, you can go on and change the world, and that’s what we want people to believe. No matter where you come from whether you come from the Coachella Valley or Tulare California, or Fresno, or New York you can come to San Bernardino get a solid education be able to compete amongst the best and go out there and make your dreams come true.”

Eloy: “What does CSUSB mean to you personally?”

Rob: “Oh, that’s easy. Cal State San Bernardino is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It has been the dream of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I have met and worked with the best and brightest faculty, staff, but more importantly, the best students. I could have never imagined when I started my career, almost 40 years ago that I would end up here at San Bernardino. But I did, and I love it, and I’m so thankful for that opportunity, and thank you Eloy, for having me. I appreciate the talk with you, and I’ll check in with you too. Want to see what happens, where you take things. We share the same name here, so at some point we probably have a primo, or an aunt or uncle that we know, right? We’re related too.”

Eloy: “Absolutely, you’re my tocayo.”

Rob: “There you go.”

Eloy: “Rob, how has COVID-19 affected you and your work? How was the transition, and how did you overcome any challenges or changes?”

Rob: “COVID was the real gut check, right, not only from a work standpoint, but on a personal level. COVID showed us that we’re all, God’s creatures and on a moment’s notice things can go from being great, to not so great; and COVID showed us how much we need each other. Even though we were isolated we needed to be together and that was hard, and so, I am so thankful we got through that; but I had a lot of friends, we lost friends we lost family members. I know many people who suffered during this crisis, and so we got to work hard to get through it, we got to be smart about how we come out of this. We certainly learned that technology is critical, in something like the COVID pandemic, but if it doesn’t work, then that doesn’t help you guys, and so we have been tested and we have learned some valuable lessons that we need to apply to our technology, and we are going to get better. We are going to get better because our students deserve it, and those lessons require it. That we adjust, that we adapt and get stronger, because I hope in my lifetime this never happens again.”

Eloy: “Rob it was great to speak with you today, thank you for spending time with us today.”

Rob: “My pleasure Eloy.”