The Plaid Press will be posting alumni interviews at the end of each month. We’ve interviewed alumni from Granada’s early days through very recent graduates asking questions about their own high school experiences as well as how high school prepared them for the adult world.
Our first alumnus is Wayne Adelstein.
Lets travel back in time to the year 1967 when GHC alumni Wayne Adelstein began his 3 year high school journey, only a few years after coming to the United States from the Azores Islands near Portugal. Adelstein saw the value in joining clubs and teams and being active in his high school and college campuses in order to gain the skills necessary to pursue his dreams.
Were you involved in any school activities throughout your four years?
“I did get involved right away. I had been in this country for only a few years and hadn’t developed many friends in what was then referred to as junior high. I knew that participating in high school activities would be a path to developing social relationships. In my first year I served on the Senate Steering Committee. Back then there was a cheer-leading squad consisting of four boys and four girls chosen in a student body election after try-outs. My election was a surprise. If I tried those moves today I’d end up in the hospital! And that year I made it on the tennis team. While the above activities satisfied my social needs, I had other interests as well. I joined the American Field Service, working with our foreign exchange student promoting international goodwill. Knowing that I wanted to develop greater self-confidence in my speaking ability I joined the Speech and Debate Club even though I had already been here several years.”
Who was your favorite teacher or staff member? Why?
“I had two favorite teachers. One was Mrs. Klehmet who was my Physiology teacher. She had a talent for making the subject matter interesting and piqued my curiosity for learning. In all honesty I didn’t relate to most of the high school curriculum, so she was a breath of fresh air. My other favorite was Ms. McEvoy, who taught English. Aside from her teaching style, I appreciated that she gave me no slack. I was a bit of a screw up, which I think was associated with my dyslexia. I’m not sure if she was aware of that, but she gave me no slack and pushed me. She accepted no excuses from me. One of my favorite sayings today is: ‘If you want an excuse, any excuse will do.’ She accepted no excuses.”
Did you go to college? Where? What did you study?
“Unfortunately, after high school I had to go to work full time to help support my mother and sisters. I didn’t want the pressure of a university so I went to Valley College, which had more night class offerings. Because of work, I didn’t get involved in any activities. But through some friends I met there I was introduced to the greatest joy of my life who would eventually become my wife. From Valley College I went to Valley State College, now CSUN. For what it’s worth, my GPA at CSUN was the same as I had at Valley College, which was an excellent college, so don’t discount a community college as an option for beginning a higher education option. And of course, specialized trade schools are an opportunity if college isn’t your thing. At CSUN I joined a fraternity and reconnected with a lot of high school friends. By this time I had become much more academically focused. I received my B.A. and M.A. in political science. As a M.A. candidate I had the honor of being selected as a graduate assistant, conducting research with faculty members and lecturing lower level government classes.”
Did you end up in the career you initially wanted?
“My major and my interests have always been politics, and that thread runs through my entire professional career. During my years at CSUN, I volunteered in political campaigns and as part of my Master’s thesis focused on campaigns and voting behavior. Consequently I met numerous elected officials including a member of the State Assembly who I interned for. By the time he had run for and won a State Senate seat I decided it was time for me to take advantage of the relationships I had developed and get a paying job. Through the network I had developed I was able to get a position in the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst Office in Los Angeles. After five years I was offered a position at a political Public Affairs firm. Knowing that I didn’t want to be a lifetime government employee, I accepted. Ultimately the firm failed and I started my own business. While I remained politically active, I became interested in business consulting, which led to my engagement with numerous business advocacy organizations in the San Fernando Valley, all of which have significant legislative advocacy elements.”
How have the skills (academic or social) that you learned in high school helped you as an adult?
“I learned social skills, self confidence and determination to succeed no matter what profession I would ultimately pursue.”