El Salvador to CSUF: The journey of Ricardo Valencia

As someone who was born and raised in El Salvador, coming to the United States was not the first item on the agenda for Ricardo Valencia, an assistant communications professor at Cal State Fullerton.

“I never really dreamed of being in the United States,” Valencia said. “It wasn’t until I went to Europe that I realized I wanted a place that is open for new ideas and I think Europe is not that fast to accept ideas as the United States.”

Valencia is one of two tenure-track faculty members in the communications department who was welcomed to CSUF in the spring.

At CSUF, he teaches two courses focused on public relations writing and international public relations. He stresses to his students the importance of coming up with a strategy prior to writing speeches or press releases as a crucial part of the creative process.

Valencia has practiced this process since he was 10 years old when he was an on-air talent for Radio UPA, a children’s radio station in El Salvador. It was during this time that he honed his skills in writing by crafting advertise ments.

However, Valencia’s interest in being a disc jockey for the station faded and he left the studio around the age of 18. Following his passion for reading and politics, his focus shifted to journalism during his first semester in college.
“I liked to tell stories and I liked being in places you shouldn’t be and telling the story. That was very exciting for me,” Valencia said.

After receiving a scholarship for a journalism master’s program in Europe at Universität Hamburg, Valencia was able to fulfill his desire to study abroad. He spent about four years in Europe, which included a trip to Germany, a culture he always wanted to explore.

Valencia credits his time overseas as something that allowed him to approach things with an open mind, especially when he made the decision to come to the U.S. in 2010, establishing a spot for himself in the U.S. by working for the El Salvador Embassy in Washington, D.C.

While working for the embassy, Valencia used his proficiency in English and Spanish to serve as a liason to the press, and eventually became the head of the Political Communication department. He produced content like press releases through social media for journalists.

Though he remains close to his Latino roots and claims that pupusas, a staple dish in El Salvadorian culture, are “the greatest invention on Earth,” he understands the importance of diversity and its role in networking.

“You have to be able to adapt to different contexts with different people from different backgrounds,” Valencia said. “You can connect with people who are doing global stuff here (in Orange County.)”

His love for learning has been noticed by Jason Shepard, the chair of the communications department at CSUF, who played a role in welcoming Valencia to be a part of the university’s faculty.

“Ricardo is very energetic and very curious to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible about Cal State Fullerton and Southern California. He appears to be very student-centric and wants to make sure he’s the best teacher he can be for our students,” Shepard said.

CSUF student, Stacy Schor, enrolled in two of Valencia’s classes this semester and said she is appreciative of the extensive work that the public relations professor puts in.

“He has a lot of credentials so he has a lot of people that he could bring to speak to us and I’ve learned a lot from them,” Schor said. “Anything I’ve learned in his class, I use now.”

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