“When I started, I just knew how to fix stuff in the garage professionally,” reflects Golden West College Automotive Tech grad Thomas Nguyen on his first day as a professional automotive tech. “The training at the Golden West was [that] good.”
Mario Santigo: Fashion Design & Merchandising, Fullerton College Student Spotlight
It’s one thing to have a passion for fashion. But when it comes to designing a career path in this highly creative and technical field, passion is only part of the ensemble.
Mario Santigo had the passion part down pat. As a child in Mexico City, his nascent eye for fashion design was already manifesting itself in custom-made outfits and costumes, such as those worn on his favorite holiday, El Día de los Muertos. But it wasn’t until years later, as a United States immigrant struggling to find an occupational identity, that he began to perceive Fashion Design as a genuine career path.
“I started in the lowest level ESL [class] here and I started thinking, ‘What should I do with my life?’,” Santigo says. “I’m not going to be a lawyer. I’m not going to be an English teacher. You know, I want to choose something that is for me.
“So I got involved in fashion and I fell in love with what I do.”
Despite his early aptitude for clothing design, Santigo’s bold new career direction began almost by accident. At a crossroads after an unsatisfying run of menial jobs, he noticed a flyer advertising the Fullerton College Fashion Design and Merchandising program. Suddenly, everything changed.
“I feel like it was my path to come here to this country and go into fashion school and get a degree,” says Santigo, who went from having never touched a sewing machine to volunteering at Fashion Week – widely regarded as the pinnacle event of the fashion season. “I feel like I have fashion in me and now it’s kind of like growing and growing, and I want more.”
Santigo found a home in Fullerton College’s venerable Fashion Design & Merchandising program. Since taking his first pattern-making class, he hasn’t looked back, taking advantage of every opportunity to improve, network, and perform his craft. He credits Fullerton College’s hands-on, industry-connected Fashion department for providing access to things like fashion shows, industry events and partnerships with Theater Arts productions.
“I feel like this college helps you out a lot, to be up there and show off what you do,” says Santigo, who considers his most recent fashion show, in which he submitted eight original pieces designed in his fashion collections class, to be his peak experience so far at Fullerton College. “With all the classes I’ve been taking, they’ve already prepared me for the fashion industry.”