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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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SDSU student Raymond Gorospe taking photos on the field at a Major League Baseball stadium. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Gorospe) SDSU student Raymond Gorospe taking photos on the field at a Major League Baseball stadium. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Gorospe)
 


Picture Perfect

U.S. Navy veteran finds his career path and professional opportunities with Major League Baseball while at SDSU.
By Aaron Burgin
 

“SDSU has given me so many opportunities that will set me up for success now and in the future. Deep down in my heart, I know I was meant to come here all along.”

When San Diego State University student Raymond Gorospe stepped onto the diamond at Petco Park as a Major League Baseball photographer one year ago, a few thoughts raced through his mind. 

I’m really here. I’m living a dream. And this dream wouldn’t have been possible without San Diego State University. 

“San Diego State was definitely the main factor in me getting all of these opportunities that I’ve been blessed with thus far,” said Gorospe, a junior majoring in journalism and media studies with an emphasis in public relations. “Whether it was fate or predetermined, my mom told me something when I was accepted: ‘You got into SDSU; you were planted there. It is on you to bloom.’”

Before the full bloom, let’s go back to April 2017, when Gorospe was in his second Navy deployment, this time working as a hull maintenance technician aboard the USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship.  

The camera on Gorospe’s iPhone 8 broke while in Hong Kong, so he asked to borrow a shipmate’s Canon digital single-lens reflex camera. 

“I … took some really cool photos,” Gorospe said. “During our next port, I bought a cheap DSLR camera so I could take pictures. The rest was history.”

He took pictures of buildings in Hong Kong, landscapes in Singapore, and started following photographers on Instagram. He watched YouTube tutorials and took portraits of his friends.

“They would say when I was done, ‘Wow, when did you become a photographer?’ I guess it was in me all along,” he said.

Gorospe admits he applied to SDSU just ahead of the deadline for the SDSU President's Military Admission Program, which provides direct admission opportunities for highly qualified active duty military leaving the service.

Gorospe committed to the university after visiting the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center, which serves more than 3,000 military-affiliated students every year. 

“I would go as far as to say that SDSU has the best veterans center on the West Coast,” Gorospe proclaimed. “I always went to small private schools growing up, so the idea of going to a big school like State kind of overwhelmed me at first. But after visiting the Veterans Center, the campus felt so much smaller, in a good way.

“I knew there was a group of veterans that I could connect with, and that I wasn’t going to be alone,” he said. 

Holly Shaffner, a military liaison with the Veterans Center, remembers Gorospe’s first visit vividly and said he is one of her favorite success stories. “He has found ways to be involved on campus, work in the industry he ultimately wants to be in, and continues to take full-time classes toward his degree.” 

During Gorospe’s first week of school in August 2018, he stopped by The Daily Aztec to check out opportunities and was recruited to shoot a women’s soccer match. 

“The sports editor asked had I ever shot sports before, and I said, ‘Not really,’” Gorospe recalled. 

Gorospe said he took about 300 photos “and 299 of them were horrible.” The Daily Aztec used his “one good one.” 

Gorospe kept shooting and getting better, and editors gave him more assignments: volleyball, football, basketball and finally, baseball. 

Gorospe credits his Navy experience for his quick rise. 

“When you leave the military, a strong sense of discipline should have come with you,” he said. “That same discipline enabled me to stay on top of my assignments.”

By April 2019, someone from Major League Baseball had seen his photos on the SDSU baseball website and offered Gorospe a part-time position creating social media content for teams visiting San Diego to play the Padres.

“I knew right away there was no way I could say no to that,” Gorospe said. “You don’t plan for major sports leagues to come knocking on your door asking you to come work for them. It’s usually the other way around.” 

For the next six months, Gorospe created social media content for the Padres, visiting teams and MLB. He also shot the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals National League Division Series – and got drenched with champagne in the Cardinals locker room celebration.

“These were things I dreamed about as a kid and never thought was possible, yet there I was,” he said. 

SDSU’s priority registration for veterans has allowed Gorospe to tailor his schedule around his MLB assignments. During the offseason, he now takes photos for SDSU Athletics. This year, he photographed men’s and women’s basketball, capturing iconic images during the men’s team’s historic 30-2 season.

“What happened with the basketball team was amazing, and I got to be front and center at every home game,” Gorospe said. “I almost felt I was part of a team in a way, even though my role was just to push down a shutter button. And they made it known they loved having me around.”

SDSU baseball officials also appreciate Gorospe’s work. 

Said Eric Lally, director of player development and a fellow Navy veteran: “His professionalism, attention to detail and quality of work helped us provide incredible content for our social media accounts.”

While Gorospe waits to get back on now-closed playing fields, he has gone back to his roots by studying DIY videos and shooting the landscape scenes that drew him into photography. 

“SDSU has given me so many opportunities that will set me up for success now and in the future,” Gorospe said. “Deep down in my heart, I know I was meant to come here all along.”