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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

The Education King

Jon Gary Herrera '92

Jon Gary Herrera is only the second UTSA alumnus to wear the crown of El Rey Feo, a Fiesta San Antonio component started in 1947. As part of his reign, Herrera, a fifth-generation Texan and native San Antonian, has helped raise more than $200,000 in scholarships. El Rey Feo LXVII and his court visited more than 50 schools with a message about the importance of not only staying in school but also attending and graduating from college. Despite his busy schedule, Herrera, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in public relations in 1992, found the time — and sense of humor — to answer some Fiesta questions from Sombrilla Magazine.

You were crowned on April 17, yet evidence shows you wearing full regalia for months prior. Was there a coup?
No coup. Rey Feo holds the title from October through September. So officially I was crowned in October 2014. On April 17 we conducted a public crowning for all those who were unable to attend the earlier event, and then we hosted the King's Party to celebrate Fiesta, Rey Feo and his court.

Why did you want to be El Rey Feo — when that means being called "ugly" on a regular basis?
Keep in mind that the word rey precedes the ugly translation [of feo], and rey translates to king. The title Rey Feo comes from a medieval tradition in which peasants elected one of their own as a king. In order to not offend the monarch king, they referred to the people's king as Rey Feo. So the title has historical context.

What do you see as your primary mission?
The primary mission is to promote the importance of college education. As a society, we can no longer accept a high school diploma as the educational attainment standard. A college education is the new standard, and we should push our students toward that. Education is the great equalizer.

Speaking of education, tell me about your time at UTSA.
I was a student in the late '80s and early '90s, and the UTSA campus was in a constant state of new construction. As a student body, we supported our basketball team with much enthusiasm. The UTSA basketball team would occasionally practice with a local basketball legend by the name of Shaquille O'Neal (nicknamed Shaq), and those practices used to pack the Convocation Center with spectators.

Any fond memories you would like to share?
I have many fond memories of my time at UTSA — from the endless nights at the Roadrunner Roost to the ever-popular Shrimp Fest [scholarship fundraiser]! I am especially grateful for the professional and personal relationships forged while studying at UTSA.

You must have needed a lot of diplomatic skills to be senior vice president of communications at Time Warner Cable for 20 years and now leading development at Lone Star Media. Let's test those skills now. If you had to banish either turkey legs or parades from Fiesta, which would you choose?
As a king, I recognize the tremendous impact this type of decision would have on the people. Either way, banishing turkey legs or parades would cause an uprising and revolution, and therefore, as king, I will banish the original question and leave it to the next king to figure out.

Finally, have you considered wielding your considerable Feo influence to make the Fiesta commission create an official El Rey Gato, since there's an El Rey Fido?
You are correct: There is no official El Rey Gato. But the Fiesta commission does have a process for new ideas and organizations to join the Fiesta movement!

–Michelle Mondo


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