Ignacio was eight years old and spoke no English when he and his family arrived in this country in 1980. Years of hard work and cultural adjustment lay ahead to prepare him for the opportunities that would ultimately lead to his life's work.
In his junior year at Saddleback High School, Ignacio was involved in the program “Career Beginnings” sponsored by Santa Ana College. “The program took us on several field trips to schools and also introduced me to what college could be like. I felt extremely at home with what Santa Ana College had to offer, and by the time I graduated in 1990, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to attend Santa Ana College,” he said.
After graduating high school, Ignacio completed a year's active training in the Marine Corps Reserves before enrolling in Santa Ana College in 1991.
“I can't remember ever feeling so welcome and at home as I did during the three years I attended SAC,” he said, crediting counselors, instructors and administrators who helped him adjust to his new academic environment. “I like to think that every single staff member I had the privilege to have contact with at SAC had a major influence in my life.”
In particular, “David Dobos, John Acuña, Mark Higgins, Dr. Noji and Henry Gee taught me that staying true to yourself will get you farther than trying to fit everyone's mold. I also took from them that knowing where you came from will get you where you want to go with more success.”
It was that growing self-knowledge that ultimately led him to re-evaluate his career plans. High school friends had influenced him to join the Associated Student Government. “While I was at SAC, I was an architecture major, but thanks to the community service club Students United for Better Education (S.U.B.E.), I did some volunteer tutoring at Madison Elementary School, where I discovered a passion for helping children. I realized that I could better serve the Santa Ana community if I became a public servant in the school system.”
He was elected Student Body President and also Student Trustee. In addition, Ignacio worked in the Student Development Dept. doing outreach to local high schools and encouraging students to continue their education. In his “spare” time, he painted the student government mural in Johnson Center, which is still there!
“I discovered more about myself and who I was through several courses I took with Mr. Higgins, mostly English and creative writing classes. Through the completion of different projects, I was able to develop who I was and the type of leader I could be.”
Upon transferring to the University of Southern California, Ignacio became involved in organizations that worked with inner-city youth in the City of Los Angeles. He earned USC's Dean's List Honors for the Rossier School of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in English, as well as a teaching credential.
Ignacio returned to Santa Ana to begin his teaching career at Lathrop Intermediate School, his alma mater, where he could serve as a role model and mentor for students growing up with the challenges he knew so well.
Ignacio used that initial teaching assignment as a platform from which to launch a career in education...not just in the classroom, but also in administration.
“After teaching for several years, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Future Teachers Conference at Santa Ana College, and I realized that I could serve more students as an administrator.
“I believe my experience as ASG student body president, student trustee and serving in several leadership roles as a student have allowed me to extend my capacity as a role model for the students that I work for,” he said.
Ignacio earned his Master's in Educational Leadership and an Administrative Credential from Pepperdine University in 2003.
In January 2005, the SAUSD Board of Education approved Ignacio's appointment as Assistant Principal for Sierra Intermediate School; in 2007, he was asked to move to McFadden Intermediate School where he served as Assistant Principal and Learning Director for four years.
He was recently promoted to lead McFadden Intermediate School as Principal.
In the near future, Ignacio plans to continue his own education by pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership.
Ignacio's academic and professional credentials are impressive, but also impressive is his awareness that the seeds of self-discovery that have led to his success were sown in the fertile fields of Santa Ana College, which he continues to support in a variety of ways.