Before being named the public address announcer for the South Bay Lakers and the Los Angeles Football Club, filling in for long time Lakers PA announcer Lawrence Tanter and before being hired as the Director of PCC’s Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion, Jason Barquero failed to convince the San Diego Padres he was the voice for the job.
Ever since he was nine or 10-years old, Barquero wanted to get into radio. He aspired to be like his idol Vin Scully, who called play-by-play for the Dodgers for 67 years. But his family didn’t necessarily view his American dream as a reality. They were often wondering and questioning what his real job would be after college. Although Barquero would have loved to study broadcast journalism, the pressure of being a first-generation college student made him feel that he would have to study something less risky.
“When I transferred to [California State University, Fullerton],” Barquero said, “I majored in communications. I decided not to do radio, T.V. or film. I wanted to go the safer route and that’s where my dad had a lot of influence.”
Barquero and his father have always shared a special bond.
“My dad has always been my best friend,” Barquero said.
Barquero’s father emigrated from Costa Rica in the 1960s and his mother emigrated from Mexico in the 1970s. They grew up in a time where the man was expected to be the breadwinner and the wife stayed home to raise the children. In a way, it was inconceivable for Barquero’s father to see his dreams because a man was expected to get a job, move up the ladder, get promoted and retire with a gold watch.
“They want security,” Barquero said. “I think that’s what a lot of immigrant parents want for their kids.”
After Barqero graduated from college, he got his foot in the door working in higher education, but he never gave up his passion for broadcast journalism. Barquero mustered his courage and applied for several sports media outlets. Eventually, he became one of the founding staff members at sports media outlet, Lakers Nation. This granted him access to interview all-time Laker greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West.
Barquero walked away from Lakers Nation after two years because he was starting a family, but his friends didn’t want him to give up on his dream. A close friend forwarded him a job as the public address announcer for the San Diego Padres. His wife was incredibly supportive and encouraged him to audition.
“I get there and there are 700 plus people lined up at PetCo Park on a Saturday,” Barquero said. “It was a 60-second audition and I was there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
He didn’t get the job. It was as close as he’d gotten to being Scully. In spite of that, he was interviewed by the Downey Patriot as “Downey man competing to be San Diego Padres PA announcer.” The interview led to a friendship and another job. Six months later, the editor sent him to audition as the public address announcer for the L.A. Defenders, now known as the South Bay Lakers.
After two interviews, Barquero got the job. One door closed, and another door opened. He walked away with a new mantra.
“It changed my life because it made me realize that it’s good to say yes to opportunities,” Barquero said. “I tell students to go for it, go get the internship, go volunteer, go spend some time. There’s no bad experience.”
The position worked out for Barquero because he didn’t have to move his family, fulfilled one of his dreams by working for the Lakers, remained in southern California and continues doing what he loves, which is working in higher education.
Barquero always wanted to work for a community college. He attended Cerritos College after high school and he’s also been an active board member on their Campaign Leadership Committee. With his previous experience at four-year institutions and graduate programs such as Occidental College, Otis College, Claremont Graduate University and DeVry University, Barquero wants to bring that same work ethic to PCC.
“My goal is to bring that knowledge and give the two-year student the best experience and the same level of experience that they would get at a four-year institution,” Barquero said.
Barquero’s number one priority for the Freeman Center is to build employer relations. A strong relationship can ensure that employers will come back to PCC in the future. Barquero wants to position the career center with the hiring community so that PCC can attract small, medium and large size businesses.
“It’s my job to reach out to those industry professionals and see if they’ll come on campus,” Barquero said.
Barquero also manages the day-to-day operations of the Freeman Center at PCC. When an employer wants to know how to post jobs for students, engage with students, offer job opportunities and offer experiences, Barquero is there to bridge that gap. Opportunities such as work-based learning and experience at full-time and part-time jobs are all under his umbrella of responsibility.
“I’m the face of the Freeman Center to the PCC Community,” Barquero said. “That includes students, faculty, staff, potential employees, the hiring community and alumni.”
Barquero has a team of advisors who report to the Dean of Counseling but work in the Freeman Center for career counseling. He wants to ensure that the advice is up-to-date and relevant to meet the demands of today’s market.
“I don’t believe in a one size fits all career service,” Barquero said. “Let’s adapt because what’s good for STEM students is going to be different for journalism students or media arts or business students.”
Even with campus closure and the stay-at-home mandate, the Freeman Center is not closed. The message they want to deliver to students is that they are open virtually. Students can still make an appointment with advisors, apply for jobs and engage with staff members. The job fairs are put on hold, but the other services will continue virtually via Zoom.
Barquero also wants to work with faculty because PCC has a wide range of students. Some students may be full-time employees or parents or do not have the time to attend the workshops at the Freeman Center. Barquero wants to bring special guests to the classrooms to ensure that all students are afforded the same opportunities.
“I think it’s important for our career center to be nimble, adaptable and to offer programs that meet the needs of the students,” Barquero said.
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