Seaver College SGA president Andy Canales is the oldest son of refugees from the Salvadoran Civil War. "They came here all alone and spoke very little English," Andy recalls. "They managed to start a small business and own a home. Their hard work and perseverance constantly inspire me in my own life."
Growing up in a working-class neighborhood of North Hollywood, Andy was a good student and was driven to learn. When he was 14, Andy began attending a new church—one that Pepperdine professor Joel Fetzer also attended. Joel immediately saw potential in Andy and began serving as a mentor to him. "I have been so blessed by Joel's guidance," Andy says. "He introduced me to Pepperdine and served as a bridge of opportunity."
Now in his senior year, Andy manages a very busy schedule, juggling his duties as SGA president; volunteering with Jumpstart, a program that pairs college students with preschool children for one-to-one tutoring; and the academics of a double major in political science and religion.
Joel encouraged Andy to apply for the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, a prestigious and academically intensive program designed to expand academic opportunities for talented minority students. Because of that experience, Andy is considering pursuing a Ph.D. in hopes of one day becoming a professor of political science. He is also weighing career choices in public service, either in the political arena or in ministry.
"I want to make a difference, especially in the lives of kids the way Joel has made a difference in mine," Andy concludes. "Because of my background, underprivileged kids can look at me and believe that they can be successful too."