By Karina Ultreras
Some college students find themselves trying to balance a million things at once and find it impossible. But James Ruvalcaba, who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2011 with a degree in finance, found his balance during his college years as well as in his professional life.
While living in Los Angeles, Ruvalcaba is excelling in both a professional and musical career. He is a senior analyst for Farmers Insurance and the lead guitarist for indie rock band Dinosaur Parade.
Music has been Ruvalcaba’s passion since high school. He taught himself to play the guitar from videos on the Internet.
He also attended concerts and enjoyed watching the performers.
“Every time I would go see [a show] I would envision myself being on stage,” said Ruvalcaba.
But his professional career began quite fast with Farmers Insurance.
“I was fortunate to get an offer before graduating, so it made that last quarter super nice,” said Ruvalcaba. “I’ve moved up the ladder slowly.”
During his time at CPP, Ruvalcaba was involved in many organizations. He was in Sigma Chi, the American Marketing Association, Finance Society and Associate Students, Inc.
“I joined the Finance Society because it was my major, but [I] considered a marketing minor so I joined AMA,” said Ruvalcaba. “Those two organizations helped me build my confidence and learn how to communicate with people.”
Justin Rezvani, a CPP marketing alumnus, worked hand in hand with Ruvalcaba in AMA competitions.
“He is a great guy to work with, and extremely professional,” said Rezvani.
Sigma Chi made a tremendous impact in Ruvalcaba’s life, and the fraternity continues to help him along the way.
“The most influential organization was definitely my fraternity,” said Ruvalcaba. “If it wasn’t for the fraternity, there is no way I would have had the confidence to go out to corporate events and speak my mind and feel like I’m providing worth in music, going to strangers and saying ‘Check out my music.'”
Ruvalcaba could not see himself living with only one aspect to his life, so he decided to follow his musical passion at the same time.
“I began getting more involved in my music, and it wasn’t until after college I reached out to a couple of people to form a band,” said Ruvalcaba. “I was fortunate to find those individuals that were like-minded and have passion for music.”
A difficulty Ruvalcaba faced was being comfortable with sharing his creations and talent with others.
“It was hard for me to accept and tell my friends, ‘Come out, I think you’ll enjoy this,'” said Ruvalcaba. “Seeing them react after the shows has made the nervousness go down as each show passes.
“I still don’t consider myself a musician. I just have this passion to create something different and the guitar is my tool for that.”
Dinosaur Parade, Ruvalcaba’s band, released the “Reading Clouds” EP on April 7. The band had its EP release show on April 17 at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.
The release show was special for Ruvalcaba.
“It is nice to share something that was intangible and just an idea, and see it become tangible in that very moment,” said Ruvalcaba. “You kind of lose yourself in the moment. There is this connection that [I] have with not just with [my] band mates but also with the fans.”
Ruvalcaba and his band were also featured as the Artist to Watch in The Deli magazine.
Scott Deano, a 2010 marketing alumnus, met Ruvalcaba through Sigma Chi. They became close friends when they lived together with friends, and Deano attended the release show.
“James was really good at expressing himself musically,” said Deano. “He could literally put feelings into notes.
“One of our fondest memories is him bring out the guitar after a night of hanging out and us signing songs to him playing. That was a lot of what I remember my college experience being with James.”
Deano believes in Ruvalcaba and thinks he will go far in life.
“His future is very bright, and I think he is guided by his passion,” Deano. “There is one thing that you can’t get James to stop talking about, and that is music.”
Ruvalcaba wants to share with college students that persistence and confidence are traits that will help to complete anything.
“In college, I was able to balance out both schoolwork and my social life, and I find myself doing something similar right now,” said Ruvalcaba. “I’m balancing my hectic work schedule with my music, and that balance of [my] creativity and professionalism sets me apart.”
Courtesy James Ruvalcaba
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