My guest today is Giovanni (Gio) Ruiz. Gio grew up in Southern California to parents who worked as a truck driver and house cleaner. From an early age, Gio was interested in science but the transition to high school was difficult. Gio lost interest in school and his job post-graduation at a factory inspired him to pursue his education and interest in science. He started at Riverside City College, continued on to receive his B.S. in Physics from Cal-Poly, Pomona, and later his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. During his time in college, Gio became more politically active and began to participate in social justice efforts, particularly Occupy Wall Street. Because of these experiences, Gio’s interest in science generally, morphed into an interest in using science to aid social justice efforts. Gio is currently an independent software developer and co-founder of Voter Reach. Here is a little of his First Gen Journey . . .
In this episode, Gio discusses how his parents supported his education and interest in science throughout his childhood but difficulties in high school led him away from academics. Eventually, Gio reignited his interest in science and motivation for school. He became more socially consciousness in college and found a path that allowed him to use science to address social issues. Here are a few highlights from his episode:
· Gio’s parents encouraged him to pursue education as a way to lead a more fulfilling life. They supported his interest in science and used their experiences as a way to motivate and inspire Gio (1:26).
· Gio had early aspirations of being a scientist because of his curiosity and love of learning but in high school he started having trouble feeling motivated for school and didn’t feel that he fit in. He turned his focus to music and wasn’t overly concerned about his future (2:58).
· Gio’s experience working at a factory highlighted the need for higher education and inspired him to think about what he wanted for his future (5:10).
· Gio now had the motivation for school but still struggled with the content. He described how a professor helped engage him in the material and present math concepts in a way he was able to connect with (7:05).
· Gio felt validated when he was accepted at Cal-Poly, Pomona. He commented on how being admitted gave him to confidence to believe he could make his dream a reality (9:21). Once there, however, Gio found he struggled with the non-academic aspects of college (10:16).
· In his second year at Cal-Poly, Pomona, Gio’s interest in astrophysics started to become eclipsed by his growing interest in activism. He decided to pursue a career path that would more readily allow him to use science to solve social issues on earth (12:23).
· Gio was able to get a get a job before graduating from his Master’s program and details the benefits and drawbacks of that first professional experience (13:53).
· Gio works as an independent software developer. He discusses his experience as a tech entrepreneur (18:02).
· Gio experienced some tension with his parents over his decision to become a tech entrepreneur because there is a lack of understanding of Gio’s personal values and the nature and logistics of working in the tech industry (21:16).
· Gio had trouble with networking in college and describes how he approaches networking now that he is an entrepreneur (24:51).