Jose Huezo Reflects on 27 Years at CMC
Carlos Ballesteros | Feb. 21, 2014, 6:13 p.m.
The Claremont University Consortium employs approximately 1,600 staff and support personnel, a number larger than any single student population at any of the 5Cs. Some of us may think that being in the Claremont Bubble as students gives us enough time to refer to this place as a "second home," but many college employees have been working here for 20 years or more. They provide a historiography of the Claremont Colleges that we students cannot hope to rival. Although TSL cannot hope to record all of these employees' stories, this series of articles will attempt to offer snapshots of some of their lives.
Jose Huezo is Claremont McKenna College’s associate director of facilities and campus services. Born in El Salvador, Huezo has been an employee of the college for the last 27 years. Currently, Huezo is in charge of supervising those who maintain the building and campus services.
“From seeing Fawcett, Auen, and Stark Halls and the Kravis Center being built from the ground up and the yearly modifications of multiple campus buildings, I’ve seen the multiple faces this campus has had over the last 30 years,” Huezo said.
Faced with a raging and ever-escalating civil war in El Salvador, Huezo decided in 1980 that, in order to remain safe, he and his family had to move to the United States. Huezo chose Southern California because he had been a student at Cal Poly Pomona before the war.
“I went to a technical agricultural school, and I was blessed enough to be the school’s salutatorian, which granted me the opportunity to study in the United States at Cal Poly Pomona,” Huezo said. “I came and obtained my bachelor’s in botany. I then had to return to El Salvador to honor a work agreement to work for the government for giving me the scholarship. When I decided to return to the United States, Southern California was an easy choice of destination.”
Upon his return, Huezo worked a variety of jobs in the area. However, one morning as he was looking through the Los Angeles Times Classifieds section, Huezo saw a job opening for a grounds and facilities director at small college in Claremont.
“I applied and was rejected the first time,” Huezo said. “A year later, the job was available again, and so I applied a second time. Thankfully, after two interviews, I got the job.”
From being rejected to now having a facilities building, Huezo Hall, named in his honor, Huezo has “seen it all” during his tenure at CMC.
For Huezo, these changes have all been positive.
“The college has become better every year,” Huezo said. “When I got in in 1987, there were only around 800-900 students; now there’s more than a thousand. I have also seen more Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans. I’ve also seen a lot more international students over the last decade from all over the world. Given that the school was founded as a men’s college, it’s also been very interesting to see the increasing number of women attending CMC. In all, the diversity greatly benefits the college in many ways.”
When asked about what he thinks of his nearly three decades at at CMC, Huezo said that he could not have been luckier.
“Through my employment here at CMC, I have been able to live comfortably with my wife and three children," Huezo said. "Thanks to the tuition remissions program, my eldest son was able to graduate from this institution. While my job requirements sometimes tend to overwhelm me, I cannot complain, for being here for so many years has been a true blessing.”
But Huezo notes that there are still more changes he would like to see made, including increased employee wages.
“The guys I supervise have it really hard. It’d be nice to see them get a break and receive a substantial raise,” Huezo said. “In order to get a worthwhile raise, you need to be here for a long, long time. It took me almost taking a job offer at Pomona [College] in order to obtain my current salary. It really shouldn’t be this hard.”