Life After High School: Jonathan Pando Ocón

What is your name?
Jonathan Pando Ocón

What year did you graduate?
I graduated from San Mateo High in ’09 (So Fine), then went on to the University of Southern California —“Fight On!” — where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Policy, Planning, and Development with a concentration in Sustainability Planning (a mouthful, I know). I graduated in 2013.

Where are you living now?
I’m back home in San Mateo where my awesome parents have taken me back into their home —probably to their regret…I kid, I’m a delightful person.

What do you enjoy doing?
I’m a man of many passions, but what especially tickles my fancy is good music, good food, & good people. What? Too general? OK, I’m a huge geography geek. I love places, spaces, and the people who occupy them. I could sit for hours in a Starbucks and just people watch. Learning about local cultures, trends, and getting to know the people that make a neighborhood ‘unique’ really drives me to travel and immerse myself in my surroundings.
That same drive also extends to uninhabited places as well; our natural environments are just as complex and fascinating as say, San Francisco on a Friday night.

What did you do in high school?
My time as a Bearcat centered around three main interests: (1) Leadership (2) Science (3) Track & Field.

At SMHS, I served as one of two Community Service Commissioners (the other being the lovely Kate Stern) where we rallied our fellow Bearcats to raise over 300,000 lbs of food for Second Harvest! At the time, it was my first major community service project that had an immense impact on me personally — since serving the role, I’ve continued with various volunteer opportunities in and around San Mateo, as well as in Los Angeles.

AP Environmental Science with Mr. Appleman was by far my favorite class. It allowed us to explore our local environments and research systems far away and how everything is connected in one way or another! I also was a big fan of our Biotechnology department and was lucky enough to serve a biotech internship at Genencor in Palo Alto because of it. If you haven’t already, give Mr. Ikeda a visit and take advantage of the resources he gives you! They go a long way.

Lastly, I ran track all four years, year round. I had a knack for it, and immediately fell in love. In fact, I’m currently coaching at SMHS as the new Sprints Coach! I specialized in the 400M dash and encourage everyone to play a sport at some point during their life. It’s by far the best way to learn about hard work, discipline, and improving yourself everyday.

What are you doing now?
I currently run my own business, Concrete Couture Designs, that offers logo/branding design as well as mapping/GIS products. But am currently looking to get out in the world, travel, and learn all I can about communities and people across our globe.

What surprised you about life after high school?
How little I knew and how much there was to explore! High school is great because you make relationships and have experiences you’ll never forget, but once you step out on your own, you begin to realize you haven’t even scratched the surface in this thing called life.

Any words of wisdom for current Bearcats?
Step outside your comfort zone! Anytime you come across an idea, a goal, or an opportunity that requires any sort of change in your life —I highly encourage you to take it. You’re young, you’re developing, you’re adaptable. The more experiences you go through now, the easier it gets to figure out what you really want in life.

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