I was born amongst the cacti and Gila monsters in the small town of Yuma, Arizona. My father, a high school graduate, is a first generation American whose father came from the Philippines, and my mother, who never completed grade school, came to the United States from Mexico. Each of my parents comes from a family of 10 siblings. I am the first person on both sides of my family to receive a college degree.
Read George's story.
My family spent the early part of my childhood traveling up and down the California coast as migrant farmworkers. We lived in labor camps, where the children waited while our parents worked the fields, that is, until we were deemed old enough to work ourselves. I began working with my parents around the age of 10, and by 12, was working in crews apart from my parents. I worked in the fields up until my high school graduation, when I left for college.
Applying to MIT was a fluke. After I took the PSAT, MIT sent me a brochure, and, though I knew nothing about the school, I liked the picture of the sailboat on the Charles with the Great Dome in the background. My father took me to an information session in Phoenix, where I made contact with the first and most influential person during my MIT career. Marilee Jones was an associate admissions officer and spent hours enlightening me to a world I could only imagine. It is because of Marilee that I applied, was accepted, attended, and survived. In a foreign environment, in an unknown path, life at MIT was difficult, but she and other friends never left me behind.
With a degree in EE, I landed my first job with Xerox. MIT prepared me well, and I succeeded early in my career, receiving the President’s Award for Technical Achievement. I moved to Silicon Valley to Xerox PARC, where I worked with some of the greatest minds in technology. From there, I went to SGI before following the dream of being in a start-up. I have participated in raising over $200 million of venture capital used to start several companies, where I was either an early employee or a founder--TiVo, RedCreek, BAY IS, BRECIS, Audience, to name a few. Within 10 years of graduation, I became a Vice President of Engineering and have been on the executive staffs of both private and public companies. Today, I am a Vice President in the Strategy and Innovation Center for Samsung Semiconductor.
I have lived a life of extremes, but there is no doubt my success started with my college education. I am proud that, since my graduation, my aunts, brother, and several of my cousins have received their degrees as well. I also met my wife at MIT, and this year we celebrate 25 years of marriage. We have three wonderful children, our greatest achievements. The eldest [started] college in the fall of 2013. I am certain the college legacy will continue to grow for generations to come!