Rio Hondo Alumni Feature

by Sean Armstrong

As a six year old, Kevin Perez-Allen begged his mother to stay up and
watch the 1988 election results on television. He wanted to see if his chosen
candidates were going to win.
Lucky for him, he got his wish. His bedtime was extended a full two
hours, from 9pm to 11pm and he was ecstatic.
It was moments like these that helped shape a future career.
Perez-Allen decided to attend Rio Hondo College in the Fall 2000
semester after graduating from El Rancho High in Pico Rivera. This marked
the start of a new path for him, but it was not without difficulties, especially
when it came to finances.
“I grew up incredibly poor, and struggled even through college,” he
says, “I have seven brothers and sisters so my mom couldn’t afford to pay for
anyone’s college.”
He relied partly on financial aid in the form of scholarships and the
Board of Governors Fee Waiver, which he describes as his “best friend when
I was at Rio.”
While attending Rio Hondo, Perez-Allen worked on his general
education and took political science classes to prepare him to transfer to a 4
year school. In addition to his busy work schedule as a tutor, he performed in
several musicals put on by the theatre department and served as opinion
editor for the El Paisano.
With help from faculty mentors Dr. Owen Newcomer (political science)
and John Francis (journalism), he successfully transferred to Whittier
College in 2003. Having to pay for community college was one thing, but
private college was a different ballgame.
He recalls, “When I got to Whittier it was applying to every possible
scholarship that I was eligible for in any way.”
It was there that he obtained a B.A. in Political Science, with a focus on
public policy, in 2005. He also inadvertently ended up with a minor in
sociology because he enjoyed taking classes on the subject.
One of the thoughts that drove him through school was “knowing that I
wanted my life to different than what I grew up with, knowing that it had to
be done.”

Now 30 years old, he has not looked back since.
Perez-Allen now works as a non-profit consultant, helping companies
with their development and communications strategy. He has previously
worked as a director of development and communications for two separate
non-profit organizations. One in healthcare, and the other in homeless
However, of late, he has a new goal in mind. In 2012, he decided to test
the political waters and run for California State Assembly.
He explains, “Essentially what I did was put my name out there and
kind of started to get a campaign going, but it was mostly to get my name
out there. It was to create some name recognition. I just wanted to get some
support behind me.”
His goal has always been to run for California State Senate in 2014. He
has now put together a formal committee, and is ready to make some noise.
Addressing increasing amounts of media reports on corruption the
political realm Perez-Allen acknowledges, “you do see things that kind of
make you cringe a little bit, but the thing is, rather than turn away from it and
say ‘well this is a horrible culture and I don’t want to be part of it,’ you can be
the person that goes in and says ‘this is a horrible culture, let me go in there
and do something about it from the inside.’”
As far as his personal approach, he does not want to assume that he
knows what is best for everyone. “I want to hear from people in the district
that I’m running for,” he says.
He intends to do this by asking questions such as “What are your ideas?
What do you think needs to be done?” What are your biggest concerns here
and how would you like to see them addressed?”
Perez-Allen spends his free time watching sports, facebooking,
listening to his favorite alternative bands, and singing at karaoke bars. He
also stays active in the community, serving on the board of directors for the
Whittier Museum and Whittier Arts Foundation.
Taking action seems to be his motto, “We need people who want to
take action, who see things that are going on and want to do something about