Featured Pioneer
Family first: determined to succeed
February 29, 2016

Family first: determined to succeed

Ruben Ortiz, graduate student in the Masters of Education program, recently earned an undergraduate degree in business management, employed part-time at a local grocery store, and surprised no one when he became a three-sport athlete, baseball, soccer and basketball.

Inspired everyday by the two people who made immeasurable sacrifices daily to ensure he had every opportunity to succeed, referring to them as his rocks, and revealing he wishes his degrees could also read Albert and Olivia (his dad and mom). 

Ortiz described how as far back as he could remember his dad would build him a pitcher’s mound in their yard, played catch, took him to batting cages to practice before his games, and would tell him, “Sports are great and I will help you practice, but where you really want to go, only education will take you.”  While Olivia worked as team mom, drove him to practices and games, washed jerseys while preparing meals and stood guard until all reading and homework assignments were complete. 

The Pioneers recently celebrated Senior Night at the PEC, Ortiz was recognized as the first triple-sport athlete in the history of the university’s athletic program, and ended the evening by playing in his final collegiate game where the Pioneers defeated Pacific Union College’s basketball team 89 to 80. 

In attendance were his parents and many friends and family, including his 11-year-old niece, Destiny, who recently had an assignment to ‘Write a paper about the person that most inspires you.’  Destiny chose her uncle, Ruben Ortiz, and explained, “He is pursuing his dreams of athletics and taking his education seriously, I will follow him.”

Ortiz then explained to Destiny that many of his accomplishments were because of her mom, his sister, Ashley.  Adding, “I am grateful and appreciative everyday for the unconditional love and support my sister gives me, especially when things get tough, when I’m tired, discouraged, or I don’t think I have another paper in me, she always has an uplifting speech or a kick ready to go, she is my hero and everything I hope to be.”

Transferring to UAV from LA Mission College, Ortiz’ strategic plan of success is education, career, marriage and family. “The first in my family to graduate college, I knew it would not be easy but I also knew I had no choice but to apply myself, work harder today than yesterday and make my family proud,” stated Ortiz. “I was encouraged by caring mentors such as Professor Gorman, an excellent educator who challenged students, shared his business knowledge and made his students hungry to learn more.”

This graduate of Eastside High School (Lancaster, CA) said with his business and education degrees he plans to pursue employment in an entry-level athletics capacity and has a 10-year plan to coach basketball. 

When asked what he will remember about his years at UAV, Ortiz said, he has two sisters, Savannah and Ashley, now he has college friends that have formed a brotherhood that will last forever, “I love the small classes and the camaraderie with my teammates, it just seems like family.”

“After speaking with Ruben’s parents, it is obvious where his humility, tenacity and strength originate; two people whose work paid off and their son is proof everyday as he inspires and encourages those fortunate enough meet him.” Marco Johnson UAV President

Ortiz added he is indebted to the UAV coaching staff  for their guidance and training, and to Head Coach Brad Rogers for inspiring the basketball team, instilling professionalism and the importance of behaving as gentlemen, and for leading the Pioneers to a 2nd place conference finish, an exceptional accomplishment for a first season team. 

For more information about the University of Antelope Valley, please visit, www.uav.edu