Jesse Santos

Jesse Santos

Photo by James Tensuan, '15 Photojournalism

Dean's Scholar

Major: Advertising
College of Applied Sciences and Arts

Why did you choose your major?

I have always felt like I was created to create. Since my early middle school days, I would constantly challenge myself to get as creative as I could with every assignment or project. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I realized the potential and value of my creativity. When I began to think about my options for the different career paths I could pursue, I always had advertising in the back of my head. However, growing up as a child to immigrant parents from Oaxaca, Mexico, I witnessed all of the trials and tribulations my parents went through to get us this far in this country. This made me believe I had to pursue an education in either the business or STEM fields in order to show and validate my appreciation towards my parent’s hard work. To most immigrant parents, these are the fields that guarantee you success and financial stability in your professional careers. Making the move from the San Joaquin Valley to San José also expanded my mind and ignited my passion for creativity like never before. As I began to meet people who belonged to communities that have also been marginalized, I realized that no matter how different our backgrounds may be, we were able to connect, empathize with one another, and create a special bond. Our experiences and stories as individuals all have value and potential to create some type of change. However, I have always felt like there was a lack of representation of these communities in mainstream media let alone the creative industries. Whenever we are included, it tends to be in a stereotypical and insensitive manner. After the first couple of months as a business major at SJSU, I quickly realized I could utilize my experiences as a gay, Indigenous Mexican American, and first-generation student as a platform for those who have shared similar experiences. I believe that if we want to see a change in the ways marginalized communities are represented in the media, we should not depend on others to start this change and lead it ourselves.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

I have always been my own toughest critic on everything I do. Receiving this award serves as a reminder that all my efforts, perseverance and worries have paid off in the long run. I hope it also serves as a symbol to other students from marginalized communities that no matter how many barriers are set upon us, we are just as capable of succeeding in our academic careers.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life? In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

Every single one of my older siblings and parents has had a significant impact on my life in one way or another. Without their endless love and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being the youngest child of four, I always had my older siblings to guide me and advise me on everything I do. My eldest sister Rosa, who I consider my second mother, has been the anchor in our family for as long as I can remember. Her resilience and compassion have influenced all of us and is a huge reason why I have achieved so many of my academic goals.

Advertising Professor John Delacruz has been one of the most influential professors I have had at San José State. He is passionate about helping his students expand their creative potential and constantly encourages us to challenge ourselves. I know I could always rely on him for his honest opinion and constructive feedback.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

The long, sleepless nights are all worth it in the long run. To see yourself grow as a person while achieving your academic goals is extremely rewarding. However, I would also like to stress the importance of self-care. Find whatever it is that relaxes your body and mind and do it as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your loved ones, colleagues or professors and talk about the experiences you have been going through. Like my friend Audrey once told me, “Have a cry but handle business.”

What makes you a Spartan?

I am a Spartan because I utilize my privilege, creativity, and voice as a platform for those who may feel like they don’t have one. Just like our dear friends Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Spartans will go against all odds in order to do what we feel is just for our communities.


Nominated John Delacruz
Professor, Journalism and Mass Communications

"Aspiring videographer Jesse has contributed his creative and practical skills to Award Winning teams. He has produced bumper ads for the National Student Advertising Competition team in DBH Agency, he was awarded no less than three American Advertising Awards this year for work he produced in response to briefs by Patagonia, Hydroflask and Peace One Day. Jesse is one of those creative individuals who is able to analyze a problem and calmly figure out innovative ways to solve it. He also participated in a week-long visit to New York at the start of his final semester where a select group of advertising students visited agencies from Madison Avenue to Brooklyn."