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Meet Mario Eguia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mario Eguia.

Hi Mario, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started in music when I was about 14 years old. The High School band teacher, Mr. Macon, would come to my school and teach beginning band. Simultaneously, I also started being taught guitar by a couple of my elementary school teachers. It was during this time that I saw a mariachi playing during my hometown’s annual carrot parade. They sounded great and they were all high school-age musicians. After the parade, I asked them if they could use a guitar player. Soon I started joining them for rehearsals and within a few months, I was invited to play with professional groups in Coachella and San Diego as well as continue to play with my the group I met at the parade. Throughout high school, I got the opportunity to travel with Mariachi Mixteco, the parade group, to conferences in Tucson and Guadalajara where my love for music kept on growing.

After high school, I enlisted in the Navy and served for four years active and completed my enlistment with four more years in the active reserves. When I separated from the Navy, I got married and did many random jobs, but my wife finally convinced me to pursue a degree in music. I got my associate’s degree in music education from South-Western College and a Mariachi Specialization Certificate; then, I transferred to SDSU. At SDSU, I was in the music education undergrad program; however, I had to stop school about one or two semesters shy of my bachelor’s degree due to family obligations. I’m currently working for Sweetwater Unified High School District as a CTE teacher in mariachi and guitar instruction; I work as Assistant Director of City Heights Music School, a non-profit community music school, Classics for Kids, and continue to maintain a very active performance schedule as well.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
LOL! I don’t think it is ever a smooth road for anyone… I remember when I first started having to cross the border in Mexicali with 2-hour wait lines in the pedestrian lanes with 115-degree weather so that I would be able to get to gigs in the Imperial Valley. In retrospect, those were the easy days. As an adult, I remember struggling to stay awake in my morning classes at Southwestern after coming off a 10-hour shift as a trolley “cop” and then off course, trying to keep up with my 24 units while helping my wife with our baby when I was home so she could also go to school and work. While at SDSU, there was a whole semester that I spent living in my car while my family lived in a tiny studio/garage in the Imperial Valley. This was a very difficult time for all of us, especially when I didn’t get to see them for a couple of weeks since I also had gigs all weekend in order to pay bills.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
For my district jobs, I teach mariachi at National City Middle School and guitar at Options Secondary. If you ask staff members, I teach music; most don’t really know me because I’m always traveling between schools; if you ask my students, I am known for being someone that cares about them and someone that can be very firm but flexible and understanding. I am very proud that students find it easy to communicate with me when they are struggling and that they need help. With City Heights Music School, I have a guitar ensemble, a Mariachi, and private students as well. This community appreciates how much work I put in creating an all-inclusive environment that fosters growth and promotes a strong sense of community. Lastly, in the gig community, I am known for my reliability, professionalism, ability to work with others, and for my playing. I don’t feel that I necessarily stand out from others, but I can say that when I commit to something, I give my best all the time no matter what and when I believe in something, I do it with all my heart.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I strive to maintain integrity in all aspects of my life and as a byproduct of this, I feel that when I work with someone or a community, they can sense that I am genuine. To me, it’s important, to be honest with people and show that you care. I believe this, coupled with my understanding that I can always improve and learn more in many ways, is something that people can relate to. This mindset of perpetual personal growth is imperative for success.

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