Approaching hesitantly, some of the Hispanic students in computer science instructor Rene German’s data structures class had questions for him: “Are you Hispanic? Do you speak Spanish?”
“And I said, ‘Yes, I do,’” German recalls. “Then once we got the ball rolling, they said, ‘Where did you go to school?’ I said, ‘Saddleback High School in Santa Ana.’ And then they said, ‘What? So did I!’ and ‘So did I!’
“I said, ‘See, it’s possible.’”
German’s path from Saddleback High to Santa Ana College to an undergraduate degree in computer science at Chapman in 2005 led to a series of jobs, including senior software engineer at CoreLogic, before he returned to Chapman as a full-time instructor in 2015 after completing a master’s in computational science from the University. That example makes him a beacon for students from his neighborhood and beyond.
German’s father arrived from Mexico as a teenager and has worked on large machinery for the same company for close to 30 years.
“My dad said, ‘You need to go to school, son,’” German says. “He said, ‘Look, if you go to school, you’re still going to work hard, but in a different way than I do.’”
German played football at Santa Ana College and at Chapman, where he earned a Provost’s Scholarship, among other grants, including a scholarship from the company where his father works. He played on an offensive line that nicknamed itself “The Big Uglies,” and he still proudly wears a 2004 Chapman football T-shirt around campus.
“The trajectory Chapman is on, I’ve seen it scale exponentially since I started here,” German says. “The Fowler School of Engineering is exciting, and a lot of great things are happening. I feel like I’m kind of paying it forward. Chapman has opened so many doors for me, I get goosebumps talking about it,” he says, and points to his arm.
“Look, I’m not lying.”
Display photo at top/Rene German ’05 (far right) explores the Keck Center for Science and Engineering with engineers, from left, Katie Lamkin ’16, Lindsey Hughes ’10 (M.S. ’13) and Erik Linstead ’01, Ph.D.
This story appeared in the winter 2018 issue of Chapman Now.