When I first attended Berkeley in 1971, I was teaching part-time in Sociology at San Jose State University. Later I became the Head Counselor in the Chicano EOP. In 1975, I was hired by the Chicano Studies Program to direct the Raza Recruitment Program. I was honored to work with Tomás Almaguer, Mario Barrera and Carlos Muñoz. In 1980, I was hired by Hartnell College to teach Chicano Studies but in my nearly 22 years, I have also taught Sociology, History, Political Science and Ethnic Studies.
Sociology has been a second career for me. Before I enrolled for graduate work at Berkeley, I sailed as a merchant seaman during World War II, then worked for more than fifteen years as a union activist in the steel, meat packing, electrical and construction industries. During the mid-sixties, I spent five years in China teaching American Studies and English to students under the Foreign Ministry.
As an undergraduate major in sociology at Columbia, I had feasted at the table of sociological theory, and my diet of graduate courses at Berkeley beginning in 1971 was similarly rich in theory. At the end of my second year, I attempted to balance my diet by enrolling as an intern in a San Francisco-based consumer advocacy organization. This experience inspired me to blend sociology and consumer movement activism, which I managed to do with the help of several supportive professors and my fellow graduate students in the 'Dope Caucus.'
Although my experiences at Berkeley were a mix of exhilaration and struggle, I can't imagine a more intellectually invigorating place to develop a sociological imagination. Like others, I drew great support and inspiration from my fellow students and the environment of engagement they provided. Working on large research projects, most notably Hal Wilensky's comparative study of modern welfare states and Claude Fischer's study of urban social networks, allowed me to learn the craft of sociology by doing it.