I was born in Macau, which is China today, about 60 years ago. I grew up there with the Jesuit Priests at an all-boys school. At 14 years of age I was adopted by a couple and brought to the U.S. I was raised in Long Beach, California, which I proudly call my hometown. At 19 I moved into my own apartment in downtown Long Beach. At that time, I began working as a banquet waiter in the Non-Commissioned Officers Club on Terminal Island where I was employed for several years.
During my 20s and 30s I experimented with and became dependent on alcohol and other substances. By 38, I had finally hit a roadblock. I wanted and found sobriety in the rooms of 12 Step groups. I celebrated 26 years of recovery on May 11th, 2019.
After experiencing a severe injury while employed as a Regional Manager with OfficeMax, I decided to go back to school. Without deciding on what I wanted to do professionally, I picked up an associate degree and then applied for California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). As luck would have it, I found the Human Services Department and met Dr. Lori Phelps who introduce me to the Substance Abuse Track. I managed to get my Bachelors in Substance Abuse and Mental Health from CSUF. I won a full scholarship to pursue my Master’s in Social Work from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After graduation I worked in the field of social work for a couple of years. I have been an instructor at Inter Coast Colleges, an Adjunct Faculty at Glendale College, Saddleback College, Cypress College, Rio Hondo College and CSUF. I am currently a full-time therapist at South Coast Behavioral Health. I am also a bimonthly family presenter at Corner Stone of Southern California.
Along the way I married a wonderful woman. Betty and I have been married over 25 years. She is an educator at a local community college. Our marriage has been successful because we continue to work on our spirituality. Growing together spiritually has been the most important factor in having a loving long-lasting marriage.
I petitioned the CAADE organization to become the first student representative. Not long after, I was selected as the first student member on the CAADE Board without voting rights for the first year. Eventually I held various positions on the CAADE Board over the years.
I do want to mention that while I was at CSUF I was accepted into a very special group and I want to give them kudos. The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Program was created to honor Dr. Ronald E. McNair, Challenger astronaut and physicist with a Ph.D. from M.I.T. Dr. McNair, the first African American astronaut, was aboard the .U.S. Challenger space shuttle. He was killed instantly when the Challenger exploded one minute, thirteen seconds after it was launched on January 28, 1986. Following his death, Dr. McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. This organization is in over 25 different universities across the nation and supports students that are the first generation to go beyond a bachelor’s degree. The involvement in this organization gave me structure, guidance and encouraged me to aim high.
I am very active in promoting wellness in the overall community. I attend a lot of conferences and conventions that support recovery and mental health. I believe that people who suffer from addiction can
transform into amazing human beings through self-reflection and self-examination and become givers rather than takers in life.
As I look over my life, I am amazed that I have participated and have become a positive influence in the lives of so many people. I often receive feedback from students, peers, workers, my neighbors and my community confirming that I have been a positive force in their lives. I am very grateful for my life today.
The legacy that I would hope to leave to future generations is this message: there is hope, there is transformation, and there is healing from whatever depth of self-destruction a person may descend. He/she may one day rise and be transformed as an amazing healer of others and walk the path of uniting and loving the community.
Sincerely, Fernando Mallory