By Steve Lang, News and Publications
   Finding the “perfect job” may be the result of gaining skills and knowledge from not so perfect ones, Dr. Hector Gonzales told Sul Ross State University graduates.
   Gonzales, the 10th President of Southwest Texas Junior College and a Sul Ross graduate, delivered the Fall 2017 commencement address Friday evening (Dec. 15) at the Pete P. Gallego Center. A total of 169 students were candidates for degrees.
   Emphasizing that the U.S. economy has changed from manufacturing-based to education-based, Gonzales said that the importance of a college education compares to a high school education 40 years ago. “However, education is just the first step. Your next journey is to build and define who you are professionally.”
   He said that the first job, and many to follow, may not be “the perfect job,” but each occupation can provide experience and knowledge leading to a brighter future.
   Gonzales traced his vocational journey from an 18-year-old’s summer job at Frito Lay to a college presidency 25 years later, noting, “It was an unconventional path to say the say the least….I never dreamt of being a college president, far from it. I wanted to be a math major because I loved math.”
   Working for Frito Lay taught him job responsibility and the need for a strong work ethic: “Those two things have served me well throughout all my jobs.”
   After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Gonzales told his father, in return for the help he had received, that he would help him run his (father’s) petroleum company for three years. Gonzales passed his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, but learned his work would require CPA supervision. Two years of work in an accounting firm could be reduced to one year with a Master’s degree.
   Gonzales took night classes at Sul Ross’ Uvalde campus, and following his oral exams, was asked by department chair Dr. Randall Stitts if he would be interested in an adjunct teaching position.
   “Though it was not the perfect job, it was only adjunct, but it proved to be one of the best choices I ever made,” he said. He said teaching taught him what was important in the classroom and to students’ success, and “This not-so-perfect job provided me the experience that would later open up a huge opportunity….”
   Working for his father, teaching at Sul Ross and doing accounting and tax work provided another opportunity, leading to a job with an accounting firm, a CPA license and valuable experience auditing banks and school districts. Gonzales contracted to work nine months of the year with the firm, Monday-Thursday, in order to continue working with his father’s petroleum company.
   “Again, not the perfect job, but it provided me with the accounting work experience I needed,” he said. “The skills I learned from applying those dreaded auditing standards and risk assessments proved valuable as I transitioned to my new career.”
   Gonzales’ collective experience ultimately led to what he considered “the perfect job,” as a controller at Southwest Texas Junior College. He weighed the pay cut with long-term opportunities, which led to his appointment as Vice President of Academics.
   “I am sure most of the faculty members here are probably thinking at this point, ‘that’s crazy,’ (and) that was my thought as well…but the president was adamant I take the job,” Gonzales said. The president later told him that his promotion was due to his classroom experience, command of the budget process and leadership/people skills.
   A short time later, this “perfect job” expanded into the dual role of Chief Academic Officer and Chief Financial Officer. “Even though it was tough and did not come with twice the pay, I took the opportunity. I would never recommend it to anyone, but it did provide great work experience and prepared me to be a college president.”
   He called his appointment to the presidency four years ago as “the culmination of each of the previous not-so-perfect jobs.”
   Gonzales, who said delivering the commencement address at his alma mater was “one of the highest forms of recognition I have ever received,” concluded by encouraging each job seeker to learn in each occupation.
   “Don’t get hung up on looking for that perfect job, instead focus on acquiring new knowledge and skills, adding to your work experiences, and always keep an eye out for those opportunities.” 


Dr. Hector Gonzales, President of Southwest Texas Junior College and a Sul Ross State University graduate, delivered the Fall 2017 commencement address Friday evening (Dec. 15) at the Pete P. Gallego Center. Sul Ross President Bill Kibler (bottom photo) presented Gonzales with the Bar-SR-Bar branding iron following the address. A total of 169 students were candidates for degrees. (Photos by Steve Lang)