Mario Perez: A Life’s Mission
When he was 15, Mario Perez and his family moved to Three Lakes in Malaga, Washington, an area that reminded him of Lake Pátzcuaro near his hometown of Ojo de Agua in Mexico. Returning to Pátzcuaro in his early twenties, he did not see the beautiful lake from his childhood, but one that had suffered severe environmental decline. Mario’s curiosity about what caused the lake’s deterioration led to an education and career in water quality.
“It became a mission for me, to tell as many people as I can about water,” Mario said. “I volunteer as much as I can, teaching water conservation because it matters.”
Mario, along with his two older brothers Artemio and Manuel, and two younger siblings Juan and Alejandra, attended Wenatchee Valley College. Mario graduated in 1999 with an associate of arts and sciences degree and continued his studies at the University of Washington, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a master of civil engineering in water resource management and a master of public affairs in environmental policy.
His education took him around the world. At the UW, Mario received a travel scholarship that allowed him to visit countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe to study water access; and he was named a 2011 UW Fogarty Leadership Fellow, a program that allowed him to research and develop recommendations for the health information system in Peru.
He currently volunteers at a waste water treatment plant and continues to seek experiences that will educate him and others about water.
Mario recently served as keynote speaker for the I’m Going to College workshops at WVC, a program designed for middle school students from low-income areas to experience college classes and activities. This year, the program focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
“He was a great role model to all the students that attended I’m Going to College,” said Faviola Barbosa, WVC Multicultural Affairs and Student Events Coordinator.
“I was able to tell students that it’s important to have dreams and keep working on them,” Mario said. “They are the future; they could do so much, but it takes work. It could lead to many adventures.”