On Friday the 13th, Rancho was lucky enough to have four alumni come to the school and speak about where they are today. The four speakers, Dan Brown, Matt Kaczmarek, Mario Vasquez, and Alan Piambo all shared how Rancho influenced them in their current work.
The first speaker, Dan brown, is currently a sports writer for the San Jose Mercury News. Dan Brown graduated Rancho in 1987. He states that even 30 years later, he still uses the same things he has learned at Rancho in his daily work at the San Jose Mercury News. He remembers being in Mrs. Aiona’s class and admits he learned a lot about writing because she made them write in the style the author wrote in. He concluded that it helped him realize how different tones and point of views can really change a piece of writing. It opened new doors for him to become a writer because it helped him follow the sentence structure that author’s wrote in, specifically sport’s writers. After graduating from Rancho, he realized he wanted to become a sports writer. He has experienced interviews with all sorts of Bay Area athletes, such as Stephen Curry and Colin Kaepernick. His main job is to write profiles about these athletes and get an inside scoop on their lives and how they have achieved their goals. He has covered 7 Superbowls in the past and hopes to do more in the future. One of his most popular stories was about Sergio Romo from the Giant’s and how he befriended a girl who had sadly suffered with cancer. She was lucky enough to throw the first pitch at one of the Giant’s game and Sergio Romo caught it. They began talking afterwards and had a special bond. Her dream was to see Romo get the last out at the 2012 World Series. Her dream came true and was able to watch Romo achieve her dream. In 2014 Dan Brown’s story was voted best sports story in the country by associated press. He states that it meant a lot to him because the guy from Rancho Cotate won first. It was a representation of what he has always dreamed about while attending Rancho.
Matt Kaczmarek was the second speaker. He graduated Rancho in 1999. While in high school, Matt Kaczmarek was involved in ASB and was well known throughout the school. He admits it was hard for him in high school because he is gay and he did not know anyone else who was. It made it difficult for him to come out, but once he did, he felt like he could more like himself without feeling self conscious. He worked hard in high school and believes he got to where he is today because of that. He told the audience three lessons to follow throughout high school; think about what is most important to you, think about what makes you unique, and don’t let anyone steer you away from what you are passionate about. Matt Kaczmarek is currently working inside the White House with Obama. He works on the Foreign Policy and National Security staff. When he goes into work, he has to sit and listen to the Intelligence Committee and they tell him what he should be scared of. Then they proceed to go through an Intelligence Briefing where he hears about threats to the country from terrorists or opportunities they might have with their partners.He then goes into meetings with National Security advisor and the National Economic advisor which work there way up to the President to help him make important decisions. He admits it is a pretty tough and busy job, but worth it to go in everyday and be able to have such a lucky opportunity.
The next speaker was Mario Vasquez. He graduated Rancho in 2004. Shortly after graduating, he joined the Marines and stuck with it for four years. He had done two tours in Iraq and completed over 150 missions. He got recognized for 100 of them. After he got done with the military, he decided to attend college at Sonoma State and major in history. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree and was on the Dean’s list every semester. While attending Rancho he felt he was a average student and felt he didn’t have what it took to attend college. He knew he wanted to help people so that is why he joined the military. Mario Vasquez now works as an Eligibility Benefits Specialist for Sonoma County. He helps members of the community who don’t have much money who need health care or even food. He still is continuing to help people today and is proud of it.
The last speaker was Alan Piambo. He was very successful in high school by getting good grades, participating in sports, and being focused every day in class. His dream was to be apart of the Air Force Academy. He had everything in place to become what he had always wanted to do. He arrived at the academy and quickly learned he did not like imposed authority. He was extremely homesick as well, so he decided to go back home. He enrolled at the Junior College and attended for a year. He was then transferred to Sacramento State. He was on his way to a four year degree, but he dropped out and decided to work for a living. He worked in construction for a while and then he decided he wanted to become a policeman . He attended the police academy and graduated four months later. He then got hired at San Rafael Police Department. He worked about six years as a patrol officer and also did detectives for awhile. Currently, he now does more of a management job for the police department. Hid advice for students is to stick to something you really love to do.
All of the speakers that attended Rancho were extremely happy and honored to come to speak to Rancho students and share their advice to all.