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5th family member earns doctorate

May 28, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — When former Calexican Carlos Cuauhtemoc Ayala is hooded at a Stanford University ceremony June 16, each of Reynaldo and Marta Ayala's three children will have been honored for earning doctorates.

It will be a special moment for Reynaldo and Marta, who have both earned doctorates, but at the same time bittersweet because the Ayalas want to see more people take advantage of the opportunities their children have used.

As Imperial Valley high- schoolers graduate in the next few weeks, Reynaldo Ayala, a trustee on the Calexico Unified School District board, wants those students to know they can go on to college. He wants them to know they can get master's degrees. He wants them to know they can earn doctorates, just like he has, just like his wife has, just like all his children have.

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On Monday, Ayala summed up how Imperial Valley high-schoolers can do it.

Ayala said, "You cannot expect the platter to come to you. You have to go out and look for the platter. You have to be humble and you have to ask. In other words, you don't ask another person to go ask for you; you have to ask yourself. At no point in any of these things can you approach it with an inferiority complex. You have to be sure what is it that you want and why you want it and why you are after it.

"At no point do you say to yourself, well it is because I am a minority; no way! It is because I deserve it because I want it."

The Ayalas' daughter, Guadalupe Xochitl Ayala, or "Suchi" as she is known locally, was just hooded at a San Diego State University ceremony last weekend for earning a clinical psychology doctorate from SDSU-Claremont Colleges. Emiliano Cuitlahuac Ayala has been working at Sonoma State University for about a year after he earned his doctorate from San Diego State University-Claremont Colleges in special education.

Carlos will be honored for earning a doctorate in science education assessment.

All three Ayala children worked their way through school. During the first years of college for Carlos and Suchi, mom and dad helped a bit with tuition but after that, the kids all took jobs, applied for scholarships or filled out the paperwork to qualify for aid.

By doing so, they followed the example of their father, a young man from Mexico who worked as a busboy at the University of Minnesota to help pay his way through school. While at U of M, Reynaldo met Marta. The beautiful Argentine woman was attending college on scholarship.

When their oldest child, Emiliano Ayala, went through college with the same pressure to keep up his grades so he could qualify for aid, he followed in the footsteps of his mother.

Reynaldo Ayala said, "Our attitude and belief is that education is available for those who want to get that education. We came to that conclusion because of our family but also research findings, which prove that there is money allocated for all kinds of scholarships.

"The problem is high schools and community colleges are not doing a good job connecting the students with the resources."

Since they aren't, Ayala said, he would have to spread the word.

It's not all about good grades.

When the Ayalas' children were in Calexico's school system they didn't get the best grades and their parents didn't get down on them about it even though they were both educators, Reynaldo, a geography professor and librarian at SDSU-Imperial Valley campus, and Marta, a fellow librarian at SDSU-IVC and Imperial Valley College and a acquisition officer for the U.S. Library of Congress.

Ayala remembers some of his children's teachers telling him his children weren't performing to their potential. Ayala told them not to worry about their performance. He told the teachers to keep his kids excited about school.

"I don't care what you teach my kids, but if you turn them off, then you'll have to deal with me," he remembers telling the teachers.

He believes a child who is excited about learning and going to school will come around eventually.

In the case of his children, Ayala was proved correct.

They continued to go to school until they found something they loved.

To get that far in school, though, the kids all learned from Reynaldo and Marta's example. They all kept good records and made sure they had documentation of their work.

"Anything you do you need to document it. Somehow along the way it is going to be useful," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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