24-year old alumnus to speak at GGC commencement
The honor of speaking to collegiate graduating classes is a distinction normally reserved for the famous and prominent – individuals who have attained a stature allowing them to share meaningful thoughts of wisdom and experience upon young people about to embark on their life journeys.
Georgia Gwinnett College class of 2011 graduate Homero Gonzalez will join the ranks of former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Georgia U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal when he presents the keynote address at GGC’s Dec. 19 fall commencement.
What can such a young speaker say to graduates practically his own age?
“Homero’s story is truly inspirational,” said Lois C. Richardson, acting senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs and provost. “He overcame educational challenges to become a leader both on campus and in the community. Since graduating two years ago, he has continued to excel within his profession, accomplishing what normally takes many years to achieve. We are very proud of this young man, and we look forward to hearing him share his thoughts with this semester’s graduating class.”
Since graduating from GGC only two years ago, Gonzalez has received two Emmy awards from the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. His first Emmy was garnered as part of a team of three news producers and editors, who produced the special news series, Serie Especial HB-87, which served as a guide for the local Hispanic community regarding new anti-immigration legislation passed in Georgia in 2011. Gonzalez's second Emmy was garnered for his contributions to Serie Especial: Acción Diferida under the Team Coverage Category; Serie Especial: Acción Diferida, which profiled how undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States at a young age would qualify for Deferred Action status.
Because English was his second language, Gonzalez was originally advised that college was not a realistic option for him, and that he should pursue a trade. However, he had bigger goals in mind and enrolled at GGC, determined to obtain a college education. After improving his English skills, Gonzalez achieved success at GGC, both in and outside of the classroom.
Gonzalez served as president of the Organization of Latin American Students for three years. He also served the college’s Student Government Association as a senator and as vice president, and was involved with Students for Christ, Indian Cultural Exchange and Creative Collective. He attended a summer study abroad program in Europe and participated in service projects, including a reading program for Hispanic children which he developed. He is a charter member of the GGC Alumni Association Board.
A fortuitous, spur-of-the-moment request for Gonzalez to provide translation assistance for a Telemundo news crew attending a GGC event introduced him to station employees. Impressed with his professionalism, they invited him along with other GGC students to assist with an upcoming station event. Soon thereafter, a job opened up and after reviewing his portfolio and skill set, the station hired Gonzalez part-time. He later became a full-time employee, and worked his way up to senior marketing coordinator and creative services, with responsibilities in coordinating multi-media marketing campaigns, social media engagement, creative design and on-air promotions.
“I tell young people to be active in college. Find ways to build your skills and experience, and make yourself known because you never know when an opportunity will lead you to greater things,” he said.
Like many of GGC’s students, Gonzalez was the first member of his family to go to college. His experiences inspired two younger brothers to pursue college educations at Georgia Gwinnett. As for his future, Gonzalez plans to pursue a master’s degree, possibly in international business.
“My four years at GGC are filled with great memories,” he said. “But as a son of immigrants who came to this country to give their children a better life and education, graduation has to be my favorite memory at Georgia Gwinnett. On that day, not only did I achieve a personal goal, I helped my parents achieve theirs.”