Name: Joe Legaz
Year of Graduation: 2004
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
What is one of your fondest memories of SMC?
My fondest memory of SMC is camping in the hills behind the campus. Friends and I would walk up there with food, music and sleeping bags on a random Tuesday. Falling asleep under the stars and waking up to a beautiful sunrise behind the hills was amazing. In the morning we’d just go back to our dorms for a quick shower and head to class.
Fondest Memories of the Communication Department?
My fondest memory of the COMM Department was my interactions with [the late] Brother Ray Berta. Brother Ray was my mentor at SMC and really taught me how to live life with passion and intention, and a good amount of humor.
What do you miss about SMC?
I miss a lot of things. I miss the beauty of the campus and the peacefulness of thought it brought. I miss playing intramural softball barefoot. I miss “arguing” with people over intangible topics at late night. I miss enjoying sunny spring days after class by the pool, weekly BBQ’s with Brother Glenn Bolton in Ageno B and watching the deer run through the hills on foggy mornings. I don’t miss morning classes though.
What was the biggest transformation you experienced at SMC?
My biggest transformation came when I was sitting in Seminar Class one day and something I had believed was a universal and unshakeable truth growing up was suddenly being directly challenged. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed as all I could think was, “if this isn’t necessarily true, then virtually everything I’ve ever been taught is in question.” I’d say that moment rocked me to the core. Before this moment I was someone who just accepted the structure and so-called truths of the world and society and acted in accordance to how I was “supposed to.” I find that this moment made a “thinker” out of me as I really haven’t stopped questioning and challenging relative truths since. Looking back on my life I can tell I’ve made a lot of decisions I wouldn’t have made had I never gone through this change and I know my life wouldn’t be nearly as rich or rewarding as it is now.
All-time favorite class?
Seminar, hands down. The ability to challenge deep rooted belief systems and question overwhelming intangible concepts was amazing. I definitely miss having others as a sounding board for thoughts and concepts.
What was your first job out of college? What other jobs did you have between then and now?
A college internship with The Daily Show in New York had convinced me I wanted to work in TV production. After college (and a couple of months of unemployment) I drove to LA for some informational interviews with various TV producers. One interview I set-up was with a high school teacher’s brother and fellow Gael alumnus, Eric Christensen, who worked for Next Entertainment on the reality show, The Bachelor. I got incredibly lucky and he hired me on the spot as a Production Assistant for the show. It was a contract job that lasted for three months and taught me I didn’t have the passion for straight TV production that I thought I did. I returned to Seattle (and a couple more months of unemployment) and eventually was hired on in a seasonal position as the Marketing & Entertainment Coordinator for the Seattle Mariners, which combined my prior experience working for the Mariners during the summer and my knowledge of video production. After the season (and yet another stint of unemployment) a job opened in San Francisco with the Giants. I moved back and have been with the Giants for almost 6 years now.
What's your title now? What's the best part of your current job?
My title is Marketing & Entertainment Manager. I grew up with the game of baseball and some of my best and happiest memories in life are at baseball games with my family and friends. The best part of my job is knowing that I’m able to help make similarly unforgettable memories for people. I find that incredibly rewarding, after all, as the cliché goes, life isn’t about how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away. I have also had the chance to work with a lot of SMC alums, including Chris Gargano, Torin Simpson, and Ashley Wilson.
What's the worst part?
The worst part of my job is probably the incredibly long hours and the tremendous stress. Our Entertainment team is responsible for producing the presentation for pre-game ceremonies and the game entertainment itself, which requires precision timing and perfect execution under extreme pressure with large audiences watching. When a mistake is made everyone knows it, so it’s stressful.
How prepared were you for that job?
SMC prepared me incredibly well because it taught me how to think critically and problem solve. These skills are crucially important to my current job.
"When situations arise where I know a mistake has been made or something is going wrong there is often a very small window to fix the problem before the entire crowd or TV audience will see the mistake. In these moments the critical thinking skills and problem solving ability I developed at SMC are all I have to rely on to correct things."
Other than work, what is your life about?
My life is about experiencing as much as I can in the time I have. I want to do and see as much as I possibly can before I die. I try to travel as much as I can, as each country teaches me something about life, something about myself and something about the world. Travel challenges me to see beyond what I know life to be and see the world from an entirely new perspective. I think I can attribute my desire to travel to the taste I got when studying abroad through St. Mary’s program in Rome. I was absolutely hooked after that experience.
My life is also about giving back. My entire family works in the not-for-profit sector and their selflessness and desire to make a difference in this world inspired me to help co-found the Masanjala Education Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial scholarships and material support to impoverished students in Malawi’s Masanjala’s province. Be it providing great memories for fans in the stadium or helping fundraise for a great cause, I enjoy being a citizen of the world and making a positive impact on the lives of others. While my family instilled these principles in me, SMC helped to strengthen these beliefs within me.
What's your advice for current SMC students?
My best advice comes from the unintended meaning I took from a teacher’s lesson in a creative writing class about the signs of a good writer and well written character. Good writers, she taught, create strong characters who take actions that directly change the story and drive the plot line forward. Bad writers, on the other hand, create weak characters that let external things that occur in the story drive the plot line forward. Despite what some might say, life IS like a movie, and you’re both the main character and the writer of your story. You have a choice to create yourself as a strong character who takes actions to influence your story, or to sit around and wait for things to happen to decide what your life story is. Write yourself a strong character! Figure out what you want out of life and take action steps to pursue it with all your heart and you’ll write the story of your dreams.
Don’t waste time because you never know how much of it you have. Don’t listen to others who think you’re crazy for doing things you’re passionate about or want to do. It’s your life; live it how you want to and the people that matter will admire you for it.
Joe is pictured above with fellow Gael Chris Gargano (right).