Commuter keeps family ties and a full stomach
September 5, 2008 10:00 PM
While some freshmen are spending the first few weeks at SF State setting up with new roommates, students like Wilfredo “Will” Santillan make the choice to commute from home.
The 18-year-old is an international business major at SF State. He lives off-campus with his mother in the Westlake district of Daly City, just a couple of miles away from campus.
“I like college,” he said. “I’m meeting a lot of people, and I have at least one good friend already in each of my classes. Most of them come from different parts of the country.”
Santillan, who has no siblings, said his close relationship with his mother was one of the main reasons he chose to stay at home.
“I don’t want to leave my mom on her own, after everything she’s done for me,” said the freshman. “We talk about everything and decide on everything together.”
His father, a lawyer, lives in Peru. He visits his son every year, calls him regularly, and also sends financial help to his family.
Santillan’s uncle, Fernando Cardenas, an SF State facilities worker, attests to the value Will places on family relationships and acts as a second father to the freshman.
“He’s close to family,” Cardenas said. “We spend lots of time together.” He said that his nephew was also a “very good student” who “worked hard to get to where he is now.”
Born in Peru, Santillan came to California with his mom after finishing elementary school.
“Just like everyone, I am chasing the American dream,” he said wistfully. “But the change was difficult because I do miss my country.”
Santillan said he is most excited about the possibility of playing soccer for the Gators. But that may have to wait; the athlete injured both knees over the summer while playing soccer, and will have to undergo surgery.
“I’ll have to wait until the spring to play,” he said.
Living off-campus does not bother him. “It’s not expensive,” he said. “Living on campus is too expensive. And I can focus on doing school work more at home because I don’t have to take time to prepare food for myself or do laundry.” He added that his mom helps him with laundry and cooks “delicious Peruvian food” for him every day.
On weekends, Santillan works for two different food demonstration companies, travelling to different Latino stores all over the Bay Area to market new food products targeted toward Latino-American consumers – a job he said he enjoys.
“My whole paycheck goes to my mom,” he said. “It’s just the two of us living at home, so I get to help her make spending decisions. And I also get just enough spending money from her.”
Because off-campus living is “less expensive,” he’s able to save money for emergencies and for his own education. So far, Santillan has only spent $30 on a biweekly Samtrans pass and less than $10 on food in one week, since his class schedule allows him to eat meals at home on most days.
The most money he’s spent so far was $500 when he purchased books at the SFSU Bookstore. “The cost of books is crazy,” he said. “After seeing the receipt, I realized it would be the last time I’m buying all my books from the bookstore.”
However, he admitted that he sometimes feels he’s also missing out on the “full college experience” and on “moving out.”
“People who live on campus have all the fun ‘cause they do stuff at night,” he said. “I can’t stay [on campus] too late because of the bus schedule.”
The Samtrans schedule can be a problem, he said, as the bus only comes once every half an hour. He plans to start biking to school once his knees have fully healed.
Santillan graduated from Westmoor High School in Daly City where he played soccer for all four years, starred in school plays, took several advanced placement classes, and joined student government.
His achievements earned him a scholarship from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which enabled him to go to SF State right away instead of community college.
But beyond all that, he’s most remembered for being the school mascot – Santillan wore the Westmoor Ram costume at school games for two years.
“He was pretty funny as the mascot,” said Santillan’s friend John Lindstrom, who now also goes to SF State. “He’d try to copy whatever the cheerleaders did ‘til everyone was laughing at him.”
Number of Non-San Francisco residents commuting to the city: 522,229
Number of Riders boarding and exiting M line at SF State on an average day: 4,098
Price of a MUNI pass (good for riding MUNI and BART within San Francisco): $45
Price of a semester parking permit: $225
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