Angel Torres: The Right Direction

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Education helped Angel Torres understand who he is and where he wants to go.

In his own words Angel Luis Torres III is “an advocate. I’m a veteran. I know I’m a person who wants to see change for good. I want to see growth in our communities, and I want to see communities that promote equity.”

This Angel Torres is different from the one who graduated from Clover Park High School in 2008. “I really had no direction,” he said. Torres is the oldest of five siblings. Born in Brooklyn, Torres moved to the Tacoma area at age 12. “I grew up in a predominantly low-income neighborhood and my family didn’t have much,” he said.

After high school Torres decided to enlist in the Army. “I was 17 at the time so I needed my parent’s permission,” he said. “I wanted to be in the infantry, but my mom wasn’t about that.” Torres signed up for a food service position. He did eventually reclassify as an infantryman.

During his eight years in the military Torres spent time in Jordan, Afghanistan, Georgia and California. He ended his career at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “I loved my time in the army,” said Torres. “It helped me grow up.”

Torres enrolled at Tacoma Community College (TCC). There he met Jeff Bantay and Thomas Di Giorgio. The trio became friends and when it came time to transfer the three decided to stay together and attend UW Tacoma. “I didn’t have plans to pursue education past an associate’s degree,” said Torres. “I saw what they [Bantay and DiGiorgio] were doing and thought maybe I should go further.”

While at TCC Torres took some sociology courses that piqued his interest. He was introduced to Professor Andrew Cho. “He took me on as an advisor and showed me all the options and introduced me to the Ethnic, Gender and Labor Studies (EGL) program at UW Tacoma,” said Torres.

Torres chose to major in EGL with the labor option when he came to campus. The coursework gave him insight into the world and his own life experience. “Education helped me realize not only my own social position, but that of my family and it’s helped a lot to stop or mitigate some of the anger that I had when I was younger, from the situation and space of growing up in an impoverished area,” he said.

Torres has been an active member of the campus student veteran organization. He spent this past year serving as the club’s treasurer. Being involved is a big part of who Torres is today. He currently works as a civil rights researcher for the Fair Housing Center of Washington. “We test different rental properties to see if there’s any kind of difference in treatment between people who are trying to find housing,” said Torres. “We use that information to enforce regulations that we have in this state to combat homelessness.”

As for career trajectory, Torres isn’t so sure, but he knows where he wants to go. “I want to do something that will allow me to utilize my life experience and my education to help change what we’re experiencing today in our country whether that’s police brutality or the economic oppression of minority communities,” he said.

The long-term may not be clear, but the short-term is. Torres starts work in the fall on a Master of Community Planning in the School of Urban Studies right here at UW Tacoma.

Section: 
Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / July 9, 2020
Photos by: 
Angel Torres
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu