The Come Up of Dr. Valdez


Alexander Hinojoza, Author

Dr . Valdez was the 10th-grade Assistant principal here at Anaheim High School; however, during these challenging times for Mr. Saldivar, he has taken up the role of the interim principal. However, he faced many challenges, including poverty and a significant language barrier, to get to where he is now.

Dr. Valdez is an Anaheim native. He was born and raised here in Anaheim. As a child, he attended Lincoln Elementary school, and from there, he went to Sycamore Jr High School. After Sycamore, he then attended Anaheim High School. He mentioned that it was a struggle back then, “There were 9, 10,11 different gangs who would give people hard times,” he told me. Going to school was a journey of its own. Getting to all his classes and making it home at the end of the day was, in a way, an accomplishment. That led to his parents being tough on him, ensuring he didn’t become part of any gangs.

Adding on to those struggles, high school was not easy for Dr. Valdez; he was a second language learner, meaning he had to learn a whole new language.  He was in EL classes or (English as Second Language) he said, “I’m a long life EL. Everybody says I’m super EL.” On top of that, his GPA was not the best. This ended up with him going to Gilbert for a semester. He said that after going to Gilbert for a semester and coming back to Anaheim, “I wasn’t proud, but it was an opportunity for me to learn.” He even went through a period where he needed tutoring for writing and math, which would be on Saturdays all day long. However, one of his most significant obstacles throughout his journey was people doubting him and betting against him. He said he had many people saying, “You’re not going to be successful” “and had a lot of people who didn’t believe in him. People doubted him for many reasons, like the fact that he couldn’t speak the language well back then, the color of his skin, and even for just being himself. To overcome those obstacles, he used those words as motivation to exceed expectations and become successful.

Although those obstacles were very tough, he found a way to pursue and achieve his goals. After high school, he went to Fullerton College, where he failed a couple of classes, but that still didn’t stop him from moving on. At Fullerton College, he got it together and transferred to Chapman, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a teaching credential. After that, he moved on from Chapman, intending to get a doctorate elsewhere, so he applied to Stanford, Northwestern, and even Harvard. All these schools accepted him. He had a 4.0 in college, a significant improvement from his high school GPA. But during that time, he got married, and his wife didn’t want to move, which encouraged him to stay local. So he bought a house locally with his wife and attended Cal State Fullerton. 

However, he wouldn’t have made it to where he is now if it were not for the people that inspired him the most, which were his parents, “My mom was the hardest working person I know,” “he told me. He also mentioned that growing up, he and his family were poor. His mom worked seven days a week cleaning houses. His dad also worked seven days a week as a trashman. However, they were still able to do well. They learned to speak English and started their own business. Their hard work motivated Dr. Valdez to be a hard-working man, “Being lazy was not acceptable in my house,” he said. What inspired him was their work ethic and ability to be successful no matter the circumstances.

His everyday life includes a strong work ethic engraved into his mind by his father. He follows a consistent routine that includes getting out of bed at around 3 am and then going for a run from 4:30 – 6:30 am,  getting home to eat breakfast, and then going off to work. He said, “That routine has worked for many years. You have to plan for success.”

Outside of school/work, he enjoys football and is a San Francisco 49er fan. He mentions that he enjoys going to their games. Generally, his free time primarily includes sports. He said, “In the weekends, my kids are usually playing soccer, or I’m watching the Niners game” That all ties back to his father, who engaged in those same activities with his family before he passed. Dr. Valdez said, “When I go to these games when I am doing these things, my dad is no longer with us, but he is still with me when doing those things.”

As for what the future has in store for Dr. Valdez, he prefers to take it day by day. He is still figuring things out. He wants to enjoy the present right now with his family, but he still has goals and dreams ” The sky is the limit,” he said. But being a principal is what he wants to do for as long as he can. Dr. Valdez was fortunate enough to receive an offer to be the Principal at Ponderosa Elementary school and has accepted the offer. He sees it as a reward for all his hard work. He says he is humbled and looking forward to being a part of that community. While Dr. Valdez will move on to bigger things, what he did during his time at Anaheim High School for the students and just for the overall community will not be forgotten.