When he graduated from Fresno City College, Patricio Galindo earned the Tony Cantú President’s Medallion as the top graduate in the Class of 2016.
When Galindo earns his bachelor in social work at Fresno State’s 107th commencement on Saturday (May 19), the 27-year-old Marine Corps veteran will add the dean’s medalist honor from the College of Health and Human Services.
He will graduate with a 3.85 GPA.
The celebration for the 2009 Selma High School graduate, however, will be short-lived. His wife, Serena, is due to deliver the couple’s first child (a boy) on Sunday.
“She’s my inspiration,” said Galindo about his high school sweetheart. They have been married four years.
His wife has been more than a companion, said Galindo. She earned her master’s degree in family therapy and professional clinical counseling in 2015.
“She’s my inspiration,” said Galindo. “If I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Galindo credits Serena for pushing him to continue his education.
She echoed what his late brother, Julio, would stress: “Get your education. It’s the only way to make it in life.”
Julio died in a car accident a semester before he was to receive his bachelor’s degree.
Galindo joined the Marine Corps when he turned 18, without telling his parents. His father, Arturo, served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam; and, his grandfather served in the Navy.
When I went to see my doctor, I was afraid to acknowledge PTSD just like other veterans.
Tony Galindo, Fresno State dean’s medalist from the College of Health and Human Services
“I knew they wouldn’t be supportive at first,” said Galindo about his reasoning. “It was time to do my service. Now, they’re glad.”
Galindo deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 during Operation Enduring Freedom, and spent seven months there and earned the rank of sergeant. He spent seven months in Helmand Province in the fight against the Taliban.
As a senior radio operator, he would accompany troops on patrol and would sometimes escort detainees.
Galindo returned with some hearing loss and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He found direction and support at Fresno City College in Pedro Martínez, an Iraq War veteran who is the college’s President’s Medallion recipient this year.
“When I went to see my doctor, I was afraid to acknowledge PTSD just like other veterans,” said Galindo. “Pedro was open about it. He made me comfortable.
Martínez’s work, said Galindo, made it “OK to get help.”
At Fresno City, Galindo went to visit dying veterans at the Fresno Veterans Hospital to make sure they had someone in their final moments under the No Veteran Dies Alone program.
At Fresno State, Galindo created Chi Nu, the first social work honor society. He also sent care packages to the military during the holidays.
Taking a social work class in junior college opened his eyes to what he wanted to do. Galindo will pursue his master’s at Fresno State and wants to become a school social worker.
“I want to help others with their education,” said Galindo, who is part of nine honor societies.