November 2016 Newsletter
The Language of Tennis
Victor Hugo Camargo, Class of 2000
While living in Mexico as a young man and playing tennis at a very high level, I was looking for options to improve my English. My uncle Mauro, head of the Serrato family who had arrived in Modesto in the 70s, and his son Jose (who played Baseball for the Pirates), came to me with the idea that if I came to Modesto to learn English I could also play college tennis for the Pirates at the same time.
They contacted Jack Bracken, MJC Tennis Coach at the time, and the person that made it possible for me to be able to tell you this story. In July, 1998, after a few minutes talking to Jack, we decided to start this adventure together. I came to campus not knowing what to expect. While I wasn’t too impressed with the college facilities, once I met a few professors I knew I was at the right place! Thanks to my family, friends, and some of the greatest teachers I have had, a few weeks later I was feeling at home.
I especially want to mention my first English teacher at MJC, Lillian Vallee. I am very thankful to her for all her help and the confidence she gave me to pursue my goals. She taught me much about English but even more about life. I remember her soft voice, her caring way of approaching me, her patience when correcting my essays and the extra time she took for conversations about personal experiences and advice that has stayed with me since.
On the tennis court, I had two of the best years of my life. In my second year we won the Central Valley Conference title beating Fresno City College for the first time in over 20 years. While I earned many individual trophies, what I remember most were the times I spent with my coach and teammates. Those endless trips to Visalia, Fresno, Ojai, the nerves, the excitement, the frustration, the sadness. Experiencing all the emotions of competition and sharing life with a group of people from different backgrounds, and wide ranging goals in life was special. During those two years we came together to do something extraordinary. As a result, tennis has remained a big part of my life and I encourage other young people in the sport today.
I had a great time at MJC. Some of the best memories of my life are from that time. I miss a lot of things including the taco truck behind campus, which was my favorite refuge after the evening practice sessions. Thank you MJC!
A Mentor Leads the Way
By Regina Langhout, Class of 1992
I was a first generation college student, and had it not been for MJC, I would not have eventually received a PhD and become a professor. It took me four years to graduate with my AA from MJC, partly because I left MJC part way through my studies. I was in the Navy Reserves and was put on active duty for the first Gulf War.
Both times I was at MJC, one person who made a huge difference for me was psychology professor Tom Eckle. He was rigorous and believed in my future and me. Furthermore, he made social psychology come alive. He was also the first (and only) person to tell me that if I did well enough as an undergraduate, I could go to graduate school for free. I had no idea, and when he told me this, it was as if the clouds parted and I could suddenly have the kind of future I really wanted.
Once I was finally able to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to finish my BA, I held onto Tom’s teachings. Transferring to a 4-year university, especially one on the quarter system, was frightening and intimidating, but I knew that Tom had prepared me well. I eventually went on to get my PhD in clinical-community psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (and Tom was right – UIUC paid for my schooling!). I am now a professor (just promoted to full) and the provost of Oakes College at UC Santa Cruz. My research focus is on educational equity. I owe much to Tom and many of the dedicated faculty at MJC. I am deeply grateful to the MJC faculty for caring about me and giving me information that I did not otherwise have access to, but was vital to my success.
Accounting for Life’s Opportunities
By Marvin Krepela, Class of 1946
After high school graduation, my first non-farm job was as assistant to the controller at Pacific Grape Products in Modesto; Alex Rasmussen was the controller. At the cannery season’s end, Alex suggested I pick up some classes at Modesto Junior College – my salary was to remain the same. My instructors were Mr. Herbert Florcken in economics and Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong in accounting. Mr. Ronald Julien, a science faculty member, asked if I would assist with the athletics department funds which I agreed to do while attending classes. Mr. Julien also suggested I contact a new CPA in Modesto – William C. Carson. I was hired as a junior accountant; later I was informed the reason I was picked was because I wore a tie to the interview. I met a lovely brunette (Doris Russell) while working at Pacific Grape Products. Doris’ mother also worked at Pacific Grape as a floor lady. Doris also attended and graduated from Modesto Junior College in June, 1946.
Doris and I were married on September 8, 1946; on September 16, 1946 I was drafted and left for Ft. Lee, Virginia. I had volunteered for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps but was rejected each time. After discharge I took a CPA course on the GI Bill. I preferred private accounting to public accounting. My choice was the automobile business. This took me first to Oakdale for 12 years until the dealership was sold. Next, I purchased 20 acres of almonds in Oakdale. Immediately I was offered a position at a dealership in Santa Cruz. I accepted the position, we sold the ranch and moved to Santa Cruz. Next I accepted a position at a Los Gatos dealership that had closed due to embezzlement. Six years later the dealership was healthy and I began my self-employment as an auto dealer financial consultant for ten years until I retired at age 61. Along the way I obtained two insurance licenses and a real estate license.
Both Doris and I always have enjoyed gardening as a hobby. In April, 1954, we had a gardening article in Sunset Magazine. Activity of mind and body has enabled us to celebrate our 70th anniversary at age 90.
A Fresh Start at MJC
By Janet Harper, Class of 1984
In my mid-thirties I went through a major life transition. I wanted a new challenge that could help me discover what I was capable of doing. I had always wanted to go to college and now I had the opportunity. I was very nervous about studying but I had been an excellent high school student so I decided to take a study skills class with counselor, Dan Boyd. That helped so much that in January, 1981, I began classes taking 12 to 15 units per semester.
I went to many lectures and seminars and used my MJC advisor to decide on a major. This led to an AA Degree, a bachelor’s degree, a Master’s Degree (with distinction) in Psychology from CSU, Stanislaus, and a license in marriage and family therapy. I used my education to serve as a clinical director for a foster care and group home agency. I also supervised interns on their way to licensure in marriage and family therapy. As I look back now, a professional woman with a satisfying career, MJC taught me not only how to think but how to change and grow my world view. I had wonderful, caring instructors, for the most part. And when I left MJC it was like saying goodbye to family.
This edition of our alumni newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Dan Boyd. Dan was a beloved counselor at MJC for more than 30 years. He and his wife Mandy contacted me in 2014 to create a scholarship endowment for students in need. They also had planned a legacy gift for MJC in their trust. Last year, sadly, Mandy passed away in July and then Dan passed away just 40 days later of a broken heart. The Boyds’ estate is in the final stages of settlement, and when their gift to MJC is distributed it will be added to their endowment and will provide more than $6,000 annually for MJC student scholars in perpetuity…a beautiful example of a legacy gift and its impact on our students.
As we celebrate the 95th year of MJC we’re already daydreaming about the 100th anniversary of our great college. We know that YOUR MJC stories will play a key role in that celebration. We’ll be creating digital archives of our alumni stories and we’ll be publishing a book of captivating stories as well. Will you please join the 600+ alumni and friends who have shared their story with us?
If you have a good story to tell about a great teacher or other experiences here at MJC, please contact me. I love a good story.
George Boodrookas, Ed.D.