Staff Profile: Jimmy Ray Torres

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When Jimmy Ray Torres thinks about the relationship between caring for landscape and improving water conservation, he does so through two lenses. The first is as a UCLA groundskeeper, who joined the UCLA facilities management team eight years ago, and the second is as a UCLA undergraduate student and one of the nearly 3,700 transfer students who started classes in Westwood this fall.

“I’m fascinated that there is little direction for where the field of water conversation should go," said Torres, a UCLA environmental systems and society major, who is one of eight new Bruins featured in the current issue of UCLA Magazine. “There are sociological implications when it comes to resources, with water being the main one, so I’d like to target that either in policy or in the construction of irrigation systems that will come from California’s effort to save water.”

The Antelope Valley Community College graduate said that UCLA’s sustainability goals are also a key motivator in his desire to do all he can to support the UCLA’s water action plan as well as campus-wide water conservation efforts.

The other key motivator for advancing his education and stretching his professional options, said Torres, is his 10-year-old niece. Torres has been a primary caregiver for her since she was a toddler. He applied for his landscaping job after she came to live with him because he knew he would need steady and secure employment to take care of her.

“If it wasn’t for her, I’d never have even thought about going back to school. And now here I am, and this is a school I’ve loved since I was her age.”

Torres said he wants to lead by example and show his niece that when it comes to academics, you get out what you put into it.

“Growing up, I didn’t have anyone studying,” said Torres. “I didn’t have anyone pointing me in the right direction or have any guidance in terms of education and what it means in guiding your future.”

Now, when Torres gets home from UCLA, he joins his niece at the table to do their homework and assignments.

“This is the norm to her now.”

Torres said he is especially appreciative to his colleagues and supervisors for the support and encouragement they have expressed throughout this journey. He was especially moved during the UCLA All-Staff Picnic when Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management, approached him to congratulate him on being accepted to UCLA. 

"I don’t have this feeling that I’m on my own. To know that there are people behind you is motivating.”