By Ruth Caloca
After 42 years of service at East Los Angeles College, Christina Gaytan, Husky Store cashier, is saying goodbye to ELAC.
Gaytan was first employed on Oct. 17, 1969, as a food service supervisor at age 18, while attending classes. She moved up over the years to fill different positions until her current one. She attended school to major in business management. Yet, her career did not go as she had planned.
As the oldest of 11 children, she was forced to drop her classes and work full-time at the, school cafeteria, the “Dog House,” in order to help her struggling mother. She was relocated to the bookstore and soon moved to the Husky Store and has been there since.
It didn’t take long for her to become well known around campus after the move, Gaytan said. Whether she knew students by name or if they were strangers, it didn’t matter because there wasn’t a difference. Gaytan wears all sorts of pins over her husky store uniform from different departments, such as the Sheriff’s Department, the cheerleading team and marching band.
“I’m going to miss everyone,” said Gaytan
When asked why she decided to retire now, she said “it’s time.”
She said it has not crossed her mind yet that she will no longer be at the Husky Store every day. Having celebrated her 40th Anniversary at ELAC two years ago, she said she received one of the greatest surprises from the cheerleading team and marching band who performed for her, right outside of the Husky Store. The friendships she made with both faculty and students over 42 years will be those she holds closest to her heart.
“They have all been wonderful. They know who they are,” said Gaytan.
Every time someone asks her not to go she tells them with emphasis that it is time to go. She said it was not only necessary for her to go, but for the younger generation to come and take over the student store. Gaytan said she plans to travel to Napa Valley, Calif. She wants to explore the casinos of course, she said with a mischievous grin.
“(I will) go way up north, come back, then go way down south,” said Gaytan.
Whereas most would take this time to finally catch up on soap operas, Gaytan says she’s going to take it one day at a time and enjoy her life. Grace Hernandez of Disabled Student Program and Services recalled first meeting Gaytan, more than 20 years ago, when they both were students at ELAC. She said Gaytan is certainly going to be missed and ELAC is, “losing someone who cares a lot for students and is well liked by a lot of staff. She has a great heart and I wish the best for her.”
She wishes to leave students a few words of wisdom, as a person who had to give up her dreams of continuing school and graduating. She says to always keep going and to get an education because, although it may seem impossible and never-ending, in the end it will all be worth it. This is a bittersweet one for Gaytan, who wishes her mother and grandmother were here to see her retire from the same school they first saw her attend and work for back in 1969.
“I feel my family looking down and watching me,” and for this reason she knows she’s going to be all right.