I am a husband to my beautiful, talented wife Leeandra and father to my happy, curious son Sol. My family has deep roots in Taos, but I grew up around the world spending most of primary school in Panamá and three years of middle and high school in South Korea. Despite growing up overseas on military bases, Taos has always been my home, and I would return to visit family nearly every summer. The experience of growing up in foreign countries gave me a worldview that respects and values diversity of culture and thought. Respectfully navigating through language and culture barriers has given me a unique perspective and the ability to bridge divides.
A Strong History
I returned to Taos to finish up high school, and after graduating from Taos High, I joined the US Navy. I reached the rank of Yeoman Petty Officer Third Class aboard the USS Gettysburg in Mayport Naval Station, Florida before I was honorably discharged. I chose to remain in the area to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa. I began my studies in the field of engineering with the goal of solving the energy crisis. However, I quickly learned that the solution to meeting the energy needs while addressing climate change was not found in engineering but in economics. I changed majors and found a deeper understanding of income and wealth inequality, climate change, power structures, and politics. It was an interesting time to study the field of economics during the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008. The issues I studied then such as income inequality, banks and corporations that were “too big to fail,” and government responses to economic downturns are still very pertinent today. I received a second degree in international studies to satisfy a personal desire to learn more about the world.
I returned to Taos again anticipating a year off before returning to graduate school. I found work at local non-profit Rocky Mountain Youth leading young people in service learning. I obtained a teaching license and returned to Taos High School this time as a mathematics and economics teacher. In 2018, I won a seat on the Town of Taos Council, and in 2020 I won a seat on the Taos Municipal School Board. What originally was supposed to be a one year break turned into almost a decade. I found an opportunity to return to school and earn a graduate degree online through New Mexico State University. I jumped at the chance, and finished the program in one year with a 4.0 grade point average. Again, I found myself studying the field of economics in the midst of another global recession. This time it was due to a global shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Although the shutdown is over, the effects on labor, wealth inequality, and political power are far from over.
In my personal life, I enjoy listening to music and reading. My “dream job” when I was younger was to be a professional musician. I was even in a band in college with funk, blues, and rock and roll roots. Although I don’t play anymore, I still enjoy playing drums as a stress reliever. It was an incredible experience to perform the songs I wrote with my bandmates in front of audiences. If you ask me about that time, I’d be happy to share one of my favorite songs that I still listen to. From the experience of playing music with others, I learned an important lesson: the tension resulting from different perspectives and opinions leads to an end product that is better than any that can be created individually.
I enjoy reading as a form of escapism. Although I prefer the feel of paper and books, I have begun using audiobooks as a way to catch up on my reading goals while staying busy. During the past year, I have read or listened to A People’s History of the United States, Roots, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Animal Farm, and 1984. I am currently reading The Local Economy Solution by Michael H. Shuman and The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen. I am listening to 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. My favorite fictional series is the Wheel of Time, a 15 volume high fantasy story with an Amazon live action series debuting this November. I began the series in high school when only 10 volumes were published. I revisited the series in 2019 and read the entire series to prepare for the live action show. It was incredibly satisfying to finally finish the story after so many years.