His mom made him take professional graduation photos, and she’s throwing him a large graduation party. He purses his lips as he thinks about a mother’s pride
“Just do what you want to do, mom” Business economics graduate Christopher Padilla recalled telling his mother. “I just want to go to work.”
Padilla is the first to graduate from California State University, Long Beach under the Long Beach College Promise, a program designed to help local students attend and graduate universities.
Education has always been instilled in Padilla as a priority. “Anything to get of the island,” he joked. His parents worked at the K-12 school Padilla and his twin brother, Christian, attended on Catalina Island. He said they were always wanted him and his brother to go to college.
“It’s a good thing I wanted to go to college just as badly as they wanted me to,” Padilla said fondly. “Otherwise, I’m sure there would have been more friction.”
Padilla said that his original plan was to go to San Jose State University. “The further, the better.” But when he was denied acceptance there and at his second choice school, CSULB, his heart sank. His only way mainland now was through Long Beach City College.
“I was so discouraged,” Padilla said quietly. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Padilla’s parents got him a meeting with the K-12 principle.
“You have no choice now, so set your mind as determined,” Padilla recalled Principle Carlson saying.
From there on out, Padilla went forward with a new perspective. He and his brother both attended LBCC from 2009 to 2012 before transferring to the business program at CSULB. They bounced from relatives’ houses to month-to-month rentals, just to stay mainland during the school year.
“It’s a strange feeling referring to school as a break from work,” Padilla said with a crooked half-smile lighting his face. “By he end of summer me and my brother would be itching to go back to school.”
Completing the last of his courses in December last year, Padilla has been working as a snuba diving instructor since. He said he worked as a diving instructor on Catalina Island for the past several summers.
Now that he is graduating, he hopes to get a jump on the job market, in search of new opportunities.
Growing up on the island, Padilla came to the realization that living his adult life there was out of the question. The economic opportunities were not what he was looking for.
“I look around and think, ‘you can’t afford me,” Padilla jokes.
After receiving his diploma, Padilla intends to go into the public sector of economics, specifically macroeconomics, before working his way to the private sector.
“Ultimately though, I want to get my MBA,” he said. “I don’t know where and I don’t know when but that’s the goal.”