Victor Chico: karate master, trickster and the ‘family man’ of the Postal Operations Center

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Victor Chico wearing Occidental College apparel and holding a Chico hat to honor his name at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 4, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental.

Known for his commitment to community service, karate and his students, Postal Operations Manager Victor Chico has worked at Occidental since 1994.

Postal Operations Supervisor Evan Salce ‘14 said Chico is a capable boss and leader.

“He’s very forthcoming about making sure that you know what you need to be doing,” Salce said. “And that runs this operation very smoothly.”

8 a.m.

Chico arrives at the postal center at 8 a.m. and gets right to work. He checks his email and logs into the computers so the postal center workers can easily access the package tracking system.

According to Chico, between 300 and 900 packages arrive every day. Because of the high volume of arrivals, organization is key to making things run smoothly.

This includes sorting all the mail by hand, since Chico said he knows exactly where the mail belongs. It also includes tracking down lost or misplaced packages, keeping track of finances and checking in with his student employees, Salce said.

“That’s the one thing students will tell you — Victor wants it organized,” Chico said.

Salce said Chico is also kindhearted and mischievous at times.

“He likes to play pranks on a lot of students,” Salce said. “I get a family man vibe from him. He’s very much into making everybody that works here feel like they’re part of a family.”

Salce said Chico pulls the same prank on all the new hires — putting a fake spilled drink on new workers’ laptops to trick them into thinking their laptop is ruined.

“It’s always funny [because] I get a new hire and I’ll be like, ‘Okay, you’re ready,’” Salce said. “Everyone else has had it done to them.”

Salce also said Chico will often reward his hardworking students and employees with lunch and treats.

“Recently he got a bunch of ube pastries for everybody here,” Salce said. “It really brings the community together.”

Sylvia Chico, who is Victor Chico’s wife and Oxy’s senior program coordinator for the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) and Urban & Environmental Policy (UEP) department, said his humor puts people at ease and brightens people’s days.

“If you’re having a bad day, just go up to Victor and he can tell you a joke,” Sylvia Chico said. “Students talk to him about anything — social stuff, school stuff. I think that kind of support [is what] Victor brings to Oxy and makes him popular.”

Noon

Chico’s work continues throughout the day. He said his busy schedule sometimes pushes his lunch to around 3 p.m. instead of his preferred noon.

“It was like 800 packages on Monday,” Chico said. “I don’t mind [eating lunch later]. I want everything to be organized.”

4 p.m.

Even though the postal center closes at 4 p.m., Chico said there is still more work to do after closing. He said he makes sure to receive extra deliveries before he leaves and get packages to every student who is in line when the postal center closes.

5 p.m.

Chico said he leaves right at 5 p.m. to make it to the Dance Studio where he teaches karate on Monday and Wednesday nights. Karate is one of his passions, and he also teaches karate at the Chico Martial Arts Academy weekly on Sundays alongside Sylvia Chico and their two sons.

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Victor Chico teaches karate to students at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 2, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental.

Chico said Occidental students can get their black belt if they take karate lessons with him from their first year all the way to their senior year.

“It’s not easy,” Chico said. “We can buy a black belt anywhere. I want the student to actually work hard.”

According to Chico, his many years of teaching also help him gauge how to meet each student’s needs.

“Some [students] like competition,” Chico said. “[But] I don’t want to push someone who’s like, ‘I can’t get it.’ And then we’ll work with that.”

8 p.m.

When he gets home, Chico said his favorite way to cool down after a long workday is to watch Netflix.

Although he admits that having a strict bedtime would help his health, Chico said his bedtime fluctuates depending on how much time he spends playing video games or working on his vintage Japanese car.

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Victor Chico’s beloved car with a customized license plate at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 4, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

“I’m a gamer,” Chico said.

Reflecting on his time and energy spent at Occidental, Chico said he is grateful for the Occidental community. His sons went to the Occidental College Child Development Center as children and went on to study at Occidental, so the family ties to the college run deep. According to Sylvia Chico, Victor Chico took a job at Occidental after she began working at the college in 1992.

“[I’m] very happy to help out the community, and Oxy has been really really good to Sylvia and I,” Chico said.

Victor Chico said his favorite part of the job is the students. He has maintained relationships with his students from the 1990s and keeps photos of them in his office.

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Victor Chico points out images of his prior karate students in his office at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 2, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

According to Salce, Chico treats his senior workers to a yearly barbecue at his house, which Chico said is a five minute drive from Occidental.

“A lot of the students that graduated would call me and say, ‘Victor! Oxy helped me so much! Especially going to grad school,’” Chico said.

Sylvia Chico said Victor Chico has been dependable since they met in 1985, in both his work and personal lives.

“He’s been very consistent since I met him,” Sylvia said. “I love that because that’s just [the] stability that people need.”

This article was updated at 5:35 p.m. to correct Victor Chico’s karate teaching schedule and include classes taught at both Occidental and the Chico Martial Arts Academy.