Alumni Spotlight

AICCU Spotlight Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio

For Blanca Rubio, one of her earliest memories of living in the United States was a troubling one. Shortly after she and her family immigrated to Texas from Juarez, Mexico in 1976, the Rubio family was deported. But that experience taught Blanca Rubio perseverance – a trait she has carried throughout her life, and her career.

 After experiencing the pain of deportation, the Rubio family tried their luck at the American Dream again about a year later and moved to Southern California. Unable to speak English, Rubio was enrolled into the Los Angeles Unified School District and relied on the support of her family, friends, and neighbors in Baldwin Park to get by.

 “We spent the first few years undocumented,” Rubio recalled. “The others in my neighborhood were all in similar situations, and we were all each other’s support even though it was really a rough neighborhood – and is still a rough neighborhood today.”

That support has propelled Rubio to overcome significant obstacles.

Today, Rubio serves California’s 48th Assembly District in Sacramento, representing the cities of Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bradbury, City of Industry, Covina, Duarte, El Monte, Glendora, Irwindale, Monrovia, West Covina, and the San Gabriel Valley unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including Bassett, Charter Oak, Citrus, East Arcadia, Ramona, Valinda and West La Puente.

“My life experiences and schooling brought me to my current position,” Rubio said. “I was undocumented but wanted to try to make it in a country where the opportunities are grand. For me, it was important to make sure that dream was realized. My parents brought us to this country to do better.”

“I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities our country would provide, and I knew education was the key to overcoming many obstacles.”

Despite knowing in her heart that education was the key that would take her anywhere she wanted to go, not everyone agreed with – or supported – Rubio’s desire to further her education after she graduated from Baldwin Park High School.

“Being discouraged from going to college by my high school counselor was devastating,” Rubio said. “He said, ‘Honey, you’re just going to get married, pregnant and raise children.’”

That piece of advice – or lack thereof – prompted Rubio to enter the workforce instead of going to college initially. It was not until she was encouraged by some of her best friends to go back to school that she finally enrolled into East Los Angeles College, where she earned her Associate’s Degree in 1997.

From there, Rubio enrolled into a business program at Azusa Pacific University (APU) that was designed for working adults. APU is a private, evangelical Christian university in Azusa, California, and part of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), which makes up the Independent California College and University sector.

“I have to give APU credit,” Rubio said. “I’m a faithful person but I’m not necessarily someone who would pick a Christian university. But I don’t think I would have been able to finish school if I had gone to a traditional public university. Because APU is private, it gave me more flexibility and it was like the program was designed for me. It had smaller class sizes, and I was able to get support from the university.”

In addition to the flexibility Rubio needed as she worked full-time, APU also provided a set of morals that she says truly helped her throughout college and still does to this day. “When we were in class, we always prayed first,” she said. “I needed that to calm me down from the stress of life at that point.”

After she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration – a degree she used to get a teaching job during the severe shortage of teachers – she eventually returned to APU, where she received a Master’s Degree in Education with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

During her career before she joined the State Assembly in 2017, Rubio spent 16 years as a teacher and 20 years in elected office, serving on the Valley County Water Board, and Baldwin Park Unified School District.

Since her election in 2016, Rubio has authored bills that support victims of domestic violence, create opportunities for children within the foster care system, ensure our youngest students are given proper support to succeed in school, and support for immigrant communities. Through her work as Chairwoman of the Human Service Committee, Rubio has also raised awareness of women’s rights by authoring resolutions that declare August Breast Feeding Awareness Month and October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Today, Rubio is still hard at work on behalf of students. She will author AICCU’s proposal to reinstate the Cal Grant funding formula for students that will attend independent colleges and universities. The formula will bring stability to the award, that has been subjected to cuts and disinvestments since 2000, and will see increases over time.

For all students, Rubio has just one piece of advice: Always be prepared.

“If you don’t need an Associate’s, get it anyway; if you don’t need a Bachelor’s, get it anyway; if you don’t need a Master’s, get it anyway,” she said. “If you look at my background, I didn’t have a straight path. I didn’t know I was going to be a teacher when I was young.

“Because I had a degree, I was prepared to be a teacher. And because I was a teacher, I was prepared to be a school board member, and that prepared me for the Assembly. So, don’t ever think twice about getting an education. That degree is going to pay you 10 times more than whatever it cost.”

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