Zach Valladon/ Photo by  Paige PappasZach Valladon | ’16 B.A. English

By Karin Grennan

Zach Valladon lived in over a dozen cities as he bounced around among family members until his aunt and uncle in Camarillo adopted him at 15. After a childhood filled with chaos, adversity and mostly lackluster grades, the future didn’t look great to him when he started applying to college. Then, amid a stream of rejections from universities, a provisional offer of admission from CSU Channel Islands changed everything.

“I was this punk-rock kid who was disillusioned with authority and the world when I came to CI,” said Valladon. “I was a completely changed person when I left my undergraduate experience — it was profound. CI truly transformed me.”

At CSUCI, Valladon felt empowered and trusted to take on many roles. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The CI View student news for three years and as a tutor in the Writing & Multiliteracy Center for a year. He was on the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors and helped the Student Programming Board organize events. He gained professional skills and confidence from the experiences, and ASI staff members became role models and advisers to him.

Heading up the student news gave Valladon a lot of face time with then-President Richard R. Rush, whom he considers a life-changing mentor.

“Dr. Rush famously said, `It doesn’t matter what you’re like when you come to Channel Islands; it matters what you’re like when you leave,’” Valladon said.

Valladon received the Silver Dolphin award as the top student leader in April 2016. A month later, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English.

He immediately went to work as an editorial assistant for Sage Publishing in Thousand Oaks. He moved up to senior editorial assistant, transitioned to sales and then moved to the company’s Oklahoma City office as an account executive. Valladon, who earned an MBA in 2022, now serves as an acquisitions editor in criminal justice and criminology.

“I’ve had the opportunity to connect with famous scholars, brilliant researchers and very impactful teachers all over the United States,” Valladon said.

Looking back, Valladon largely credits his embracing of opportunities at CSUCI for his success.

“If you’re willing to have the ride of your life, CI can give it to you,” Valladon said. “But you must ask for it.”

© Spring 2023 / Volume 28 / Number 1 / Biannual

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