Eric Pacheco, Valedictorian

Faculty and students in the classroom


Eric Pacheco

Eric Pacheco

Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/English

Valedictorian, Class of 2015
Evening Ceremony 

  • Graduating with Highest Honors
  • English Graduate Achievement Award
  • Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities
  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Currently an English major at William Paterson University
  • Tutors in the PCCC Tutoring Center
  • A screenwriter with a Cannes Film Festival credit

A Night of Writing Awakened This Filmmaker to His Dream

Posted 5-18-15

“Valedictorian speeches can be dry,” said Eric Pacheco who will deliver the valedictory address at the May 21 evening Commencement ceremony.

With a plan to “tune out the 100,000 suggestions,” he has received about the speech, Eric promises his address will be different and will contain some “choice dialogue.”

That’s not a surprise. The wry and witty valedictorian is an aspiring screenwriter and has already debuted a film at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. 

What is surprising is that Eric, who will receive his Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/ English, with a 4.0 average, was an unmotivated high school student who, in his words, “despised writing.”

“I was a C student,” said the Passaic resident, a 2002 graduate of Passaic High School. “I didn’t want to study anything that didn’t interest me.”

Eric found writing so boring that during a bout of insomnia, he got out of bed to write. “I decided to do the most boring thing possible to help me fall asleep.” But that night, he stayed up writing for four hours and had an epiphany. “Writing became intriguing and fulfilling,” he said.

Despite his mediocre high school performance, Eric had a combined SAT score of 1360 and teachers clearly saw his potential.

He went on to New Jersey Institute of Technology, but soon dropped out.  “I realized I was not a good fit for the IT field,”
said Eric. Yet, he still considered writing only a hobby.

Eric delivers his
valedictory speech to
the Class of 2015

Read more here

For the next decade, he worked at Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacies where he advanced to managerial level, but wasn’t happy. “I found myself growing more negative and misanthropic,” he said.

When his father passed away, Eric started to rethink his life and began writing again.  “I had always been hugely into movies and wrote a full-length screenplay,” he said.

At that time, a friend who was attending the New York Film Academy asked Eric to edit one of his screenplays. “I found I had a knack for it,” he said.”

He works collaboratively with group of colleagues, and in 2005, they formed a production company, New Path Pictures where Eric is the story director, generating new ideas for projects.

Their short film, A Life in Shadows, was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in France.  
“We couldn’t go,” said Eric, “but we know that people attended the screening of our film. (Watch the film on You Tube)

Filmed in Brooklyn on a $7,000 budget, the 30-minute, Spanish-language movie told the story of Sander, a family man who led a double life as a Mafia hit man.

“If we make a movie, our goal is to entertain people,” said Eric who names filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Guy Ritchie as important influences on his work.

“Screenwriting is what I aspire to, but I won’t quit my day job,” said Eric. He calls the success at Cannes “a nugget of legitimacy,” but knows the path for filmmakers is tough and competitive.

“I have a practical streak,” said Eric. That’s what drove him to enroll at PCCC where he experienced the enrichment an educational atmosphere can offer.

“I especially enjoyed the intellectual discussions, both in class and outside of class, with other students and professors,” said Eric.
He consistently earned top grades and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Eric actually completed his degree requirements last September and is now a bachelor’s degree candidate majoring in English at William Paterson University.

In a happy commencement coincidence, as Eric participates in PCCC’s ceremonies this week, his older brother, Paul, also a PCCC alumnus, received his bachelor’s from Rutgers University.

Now working as a tutor at PCCC, Eric is writing commercials for New Path Pictures while developing his next movie, a full length feature film about a detective who is misled by a con man.

“It’s important to maintain a sense of humor and not take yourself so seriously,” said Eric about his film career. “If you have fun doing what you’re doing, you will invest yourself more deeply in your work.