Ricardo Calderon- Spanish

December 20, 2022
Ricardo Calderon

Ricardo (Ricky) Calderon

Ricardo (Ricky) Calderon graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Sociology and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.

While you were at SSU, did you have any idea of what you'd do after graduation?

I had a general idea as I entered my 4th year that I wanted to pursue a career on a college campus. I was involved in various leadership positions throughout my time at SSU which helped me develop an array of skills and after discussing it with my mentors I knew I wanted to continue on with graduate school.

How did your studies or activities at SSU influence your future job choices? 

I started my time at SSU as a declared Criminal Justice and Spanish major. After some time of pursuing leadership roles, working with my peers, and connecting with various resources on-campus I knew that I wanted to work with people specifically with students on a college campus so I changed it to Sociology & Spanish. From there my options were to pursue a graduate degree in Student Affairs/Higher Education and then continue on with my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today (working at Sonoma State) if it weren’t for the experiences, the people, and the connections I made throughout my time as a student.

Tell me about your trajectory after SSU.

After graduating from Sonoma State, I moved to Iowa to begin my Master’s of Education degree with a student affairs emphasis at Iowa State University. During the two years that I was there I also worked in the Office of Admissions primarily focusing on multicultural student recruitment. During that time, I spearheaded various initiatives and strategies such as the Latino Family Visit Day and Multicultural Scholars Visit to recruit a diverse student population to the university. I also had the unique opportunity of traveling to Puerto Rico to recruit and connect with students and their families – so the Spanish speaking skills were very handy!

How did you find your current job? 

I found my current job by connecting with my professional network and actively searching for new opportunities. I have been at Sonoma State for a little over four years and this is the third position that I’ve held which has allowed me to move up in my career. I have to give credit to my professional network that has always encouraged me and provided me with opportunities to continue advancing.

What challenges or benefits have you found in your current position?

In my current position as Coordinator of First-and Second-Year Transition (FAST) Programs I supervise a large student staff made up of peer mentors, peer facilitators, and leadership staff members. It can be challenging overseeing a staff with different personalities and leadership styles but the rewarding piece is witnessing how students develop their leadership skills and build their confidence throughout their time working with our program. Our programs mission is to support student retention and success for incoming students but it’s way more than that – many of our student leaders have also been positively impacted by our program because they’ve developed a sense of belonging through their work with us. Even though there are many moving pieces to my work, I enjoy every bit of it!

Has your Spanish major helped you in your career?

When I started working in Admissions at Iowa State, I used my Spanish speaking and writing skills almost daily! The nature of my work didn’t require that I know the language but it was crucial when communicating with Spanish speaking families or when translating presentations and brochures. Through my Spanish major I not only enhanced my speaking skills but it strengthened my intercultural awareness. I strengthened my ability to communicate in Spanish because of the rigorous courses that I took and because the Spanish major is so interdisciplinary it was easily applied to my career in higher education.

What advice do you have for current students?

GET INVOLVED AT SSU! Whether it’s with a student club or organization, an on-campus job, attending a social event, finding a mentor, or just going to an event for the free food – all these opportunities will connect with at least one new person and will benefit you in the long run. Your time at SSU will fly by so take advantage of all the opportunities!

What do you see yourself doing five or ten years from now?

That’s a huge question but one that is always in the back of my mind. Recently I’ve been interested in pursuing either a doctoral degree in Higher Education or a graduate certificate in a field like digital marketing. I’ve focused the last 6 years on gaining professional experience in the field of student affairs and higher education but I have also expanded my skills and interests and am always seeking innovative opportunities.