AVID Classes Welcome Guest Speaker

Saint alumnus Jorge Camacho-Zepeda gives AVID students some encouraging words.


Santa Maria High School alumnus, Mr. Jorge Camacho-Zepeda, spent some time on Monday motivating AVID students in Mrs. Draper and Mr. Herbert’s classes with the message, “Your pathway
to success, is not always your first pathway.”

Mr. Camacho-Zepeda described himself as a non-traditional student who initially entered a technical school to pursue an automotive career. His story detailed a personal journey to the successful Family Custody Mediator that he is today.

He came from a low-income family, started working at 11 ½, and had an abusive household growing up. His description of his childhood on the verge of adulthood also hit home with a lot of students as he described himself as a “cholo, lost in disfunction.” He also labeled himself a “lost” high school student who was told he would end up in jail or dead in the future.

But Mr. Camacho-Zepeda never lost sight of his goal, despite several setbacks along the way. He ended up attending Hancock College with the idea of pursuing mechanical engineering and working full time. Part of his general education classes included some social science course work which ended up being the beginning of a healing pathway for him. He discovered and developed his organizational leadership skills, took psychology and sociology, and later graduated from Brandman University in 2019. He also explained how this pathway led him to the career he absolutely loves, a court mediator. Presently, he is working on becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist.

“A lot of students related to some of the home situations he described,’’ said student Suleima Martinez-Espinoza. “He was the best speaker in AVID that we have had as he described what so many of us have come from. His story was encouraging.”

Student Alyssa Vazquez Valenzuela, agreed, adding “I felt an emotional connection with his message.”

“I could relate to him more than any other speaker we have had,” said student Rene Lopez.

Student Jose Diaz stated he could relate to a lot of his home life, “having to work from a young age, struggling in school, his family not having enough to eat, not knowing where money for food was coming from.”

Mrs. Draper was Mr. Camacho-Zepeda’s former teacher.