This month will be full of wonderful new memories for Social Work senior, Patricio Galindo. In just a few short days, he will walk across the stage at the Save Mart Center to receive his bachelor’s degree in Social Work Education – the first in his family of nine siblings to do so. He earned a 3.85 GPA and proudly serves as a member of eight different honor societies. Also on the horizon for him – a brand new baby boy – the first child for him and his wife, Serena.
In August, he will return to campus to pursue his Master of Social Work degree. Everything is falling into place for Galindo, but his journey to get there required a lot of struggles and whole lot of perseverance.
A proud and honorable U.S Marine Corps Veteran, Galindo served four years, including in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was honorably separated from service in 2013, having achieved the rank of sergeant and receiving numerous accolades, but his transition home was not without challenges.
Having to readjust to civilian life was tough for Galindo, who also suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, hearing loss and other disabilities resulting from of his time overseas. He pursued college to cope with the difficulties, but also to find a greater purpose.
“I see the Marine Corps as a helping profession, I was always there for my Marines whenever they needed guidance,” Galindo said. “After a few deployments, I decided to take that career into a college profession. I chose the field of social work because I figure there are a lot of kids out there in the community who need a role model, and as a social worker, our job is to help alleviate problems for our clients.”
Prior to enrolling at Fresno State, Galindo attended Fresno City College, where he earned the 2016 Dean’s Medallion for the Division of Social Sciences and ultimately, the President’s Medallion. The distinction he received solidified his decision to further pursue higher education at Fresno State.
Throughout his two years at the University, Galindo has made an immeasurable impact on campus. He created the first Social Work Honor Society at the University, Chi Nu, which is offered to undergraduate and master’s level social work students who’ve obtained a 3.0 GPA or higher. In just the first year alone, he was able to recruit over 100 members. Galindo said it was important for him to honor the accomplishments of social work students, particularly his hard-working peers.
His passion for service drives his commitment and desire to help others achieve success. Through his involvement with the honor society, Galindo has volunteered at the Poverello House and Centro La Familia providing meals and toys for families in need. The honor society also worked with Blue Star Moms to send care packages and letters to troops overseas – a project near and dear to Galindo’s heart.
During his time at Fresno City College, he interned at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Fresno and spent many hours with veterans who were on end-of-life care, hoping to bring comfort to them in their final hours, as part of the “No Veteran Dies Alone” program.
“I would say that 90 percent of the men and women I spoke with did not have family,” Galindo said. “I would get a call from my supervisor and they would say ‘Patrick, I have a veteran here and he has a few hours to live. Can you come to the hospital?’ and I would go, and I would sit there, and let them know they are appreciated.”
Through the “Veterans Companion” program, he also assisted veterans recovering from surgery or illness, who did not have family with them in the hospital, as it is his belief that veterans truly are his family.
Outside of campus, Galindo is equally committed to his community – particularly in Selma, where he grew up. For the past five years, he has been an active member of the American Legion Selma Post 12, where he oversees enrollment of current and new members who span many branches of military and many generations.
Through the Legion, he is able to give back to the youth in the community, through student scholarships. A total of $12,500 was raised to help students in both Kingsburg and Selma.
“We really try to push our little community of Selma,” Galindo said proudly.
Through the American Legion, Galindo created a resolution that he presented on a national level before Congress to ensure veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom receive proper recognition. He also served as the liaison for Congressman Jim Costa.
Galindo comes from a proud lineage of patriots, including his father, a Marine Corps veteran and grandfather, who served in the U.S. Navy. Galindo said his opportunity to serve was a chance to continue a special family tradition. Having joined the Marines right after graduating from Selma High School, the transition to civilian life was tough, but Galindo credits on-campus veterans resources for helping him grow and acclimate.
“The services from Fresno State helps a veteran feel like they are welcomed,” Galindo said. “You have someone to talk to that knows your background. The counselors are Marines as well and they are easy to get along with. They do so much for us veterans from leading workshops to helping us understand our benefits, which will help me pay for my master’s program. If they were not here to educate us on what is out there, I have no idea where I’d be now.”
Earlier this month, Galindo wrapped up his internship at Phoenix Secondary Academy in Fresno completing more than 450 hours. As a school social worker intern, he worked face-to-face with disenfranchised and troubled youth just released from juvenile detention centers or on suspension. In tune with his caring nature, Galindo made it his mission to show the students that they were not alone, reassuring them a bright future was ahead of them if just believed in themselves.
Part of his work included conducting home visits, coordinating anger management groups and promoting mental health awareness at the school site. Galindo says his experience there cemented his desire to become a school guidance counselor after earning his Master’s of Social Work.
Galindo says his greatest motivation to achieve success is ultimately his family, but the feeling of graduating is bittersweet. His late brother, Julian, was just one semester short of graduating from Fresno State before his life was taken by a drunk driver, in 2004. When Galindo crosses the stage at commencement, he says he will do it for his brother who never got the chance.
“Julian was 27 when he was about to complete his bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, and now I’m 27 about to complete MY bachelor’s degree,” Galindo said. “It feels really special to me because I’m picking up where his dreams left off. He was the passionate one in the family and he really pushed the rest of our siblings to go to school. Later down the line I just picked up his influence and carried that with me to school.”
Going forward, Galindo strives to start his social work career in the area of child welfare or with a foster family agency before pursuing careers as a high school social worker or school guidance counselor. Ultimately, he would like to work in the college setting helping veterans transition from military to civilian life – a path he found personal success in.
“Patricio epitomizes many of the values of the social work profession and is poised to pursue graduate education so that he may prepare to help individuals who have had experiences similar to his own,” said Dr. Roger Simpson, B.A. program coordinator in the Department of Social Work Education.
As he prepares to graduate, one thing remains evident – Galindo is a compassionate and goal-driven individual who leads his life with purpose.
“Graduating as a Fresno State Bulldog brings a lot of pride for me,” Galindo said. “It’s the college of my community and just knowing that I come from a diverse college that supports my culture, but also my dreams and ambitions – makes me proud. I couldn’t have picked a better school to graduate from.”
Patricio Galindo is a candidate for the prestigious California State University, Fresno University President’s Medal, which is the highest honor the University presents to an undergraduate student. The President’s Medalist is selected from the nine undergraduate Dean’s Medalists who represent the academic colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs. The awardee will be announced at the University Commencement on May 19, 2018.
Patricio Galindo Racks up the Medals – Vida En El Valle, May 17, 2018