Alumni Councilor Mario Galdamez

Learn more about how you can make a difference as part of UCSC’s 2024 Alumni Council

Mario Galdamez (Merrill ’06, politics and Latin American & Latino Studies) is serving his second year on the Alumni Council. 
Galdamez worked as the Chief Operating Officer for a nonprofit organization based out of Los Angeles for many years, serving individuals with disabilities.

Mario Galdamez (Merrill ’06, politics and Latin American & Latino Studies) was born in a rural, impoverished town in El Salvador. When he was about two years old, his mother immigrated to the U.S., and Galdamez joined her with a permanent residence card seven years later. 

He grew up and graduated high school from San Fernando Valley and was determined to pursue higher education. The first time Galdamez laid eyes on UC Santa Cruz was during a campus tour in 2002. He instantly fell in love with the university surrounded by nature and chose to attend as a first-generation college student.

“I definitely wanted to be in a place where I felt at peace and was surrounded by beauty,” Galdamez said. “When I got to the campus, there was a connection to nature that made a big difference for me. UCSC was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.” 

Galdamez graduated from Merrill College in 2006 with a degree in Political Science and Latin American & Latino Studies. While at UCSC, Galdamez worked as a Paraprofessional Undergraduate Providing Learning Services to Migrant Students (P.U.P.I.L.S) in Watsonville for three years.

Galdamez later obtained a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles. He worked as the Chief Operating Officer for a nonprofit organization based out of Los Angeles for many years, serving individuals with disabilities. Currently, Galdamez works for the Department of Homeland Security.

Looking back at his time at UCSC, Galdamez says he made lifelong friends and was provided unique opportunities to pursue his degree and, eventually, his career. 

He says he is proud to have been a part of the UCSC Alumni Council for his second year. 

“What inspired me to be part of the Alumni Council is giving back to UC Santa Cruz because it (the university) did so much for me when I was there,” Galdamez said. “I attribute my time at UC Santa Cruz to the success I have had in my life. It gave me a solid foundation.”

Since joining the Alumni Council, Galdamez has made it his personal goal to increase the number of students that receive the alumni association scholarship each year. Serving as the co-chair of the Alumni Association’s Alumni Association Scholarship Fund Committee, Galdamez’s leadership has resulted in increased engagement with students and alumni.

In 2023, the scholarship will be awarded to 45 students, including 10 freshmen, 10 transfer students, and 25 students renewing this annual scholarship. 

“There are so many students who are struggling financially, and anything we can do to fundraise through networks or peers makes a difference,” Galdamez said. “We’re making a difference in being able to help those individuals.” 

UCSC Alumni Council nominations will be open beginning Jan. 19 through Mar. 10. Candidates will go through an interview process, and the 2024 council will be selected in June to begin their two-year term on July 1. 

Galdamez lists three reasons why he would recommend joining the Alumni Council to fellow alumni:

  1. The Alumni Council is a great way to give back to the UCSC community.
  2. Being an Alumni Councilor helps build leadership skills.
  3. It is a great opportunity to meet amazing people.  

“The Alumni Council is a very diverse group of Banana Slugs. We have some very diverse backgrounds, and as councilors we do amazing things,” Galdamez said. “You get to work with them, learn from each other, and see how you could help the UC Santa Cruz community.”

Submit your Alumni Council application or nominate a fellow Slug today!