JANUARY 31, 2020 — When Wayne Gonzales ’11 rang the closing bell with his company at the NASDAQ Marketsite on Wall Street in New York City, he knew it was a moment that confirmed the long days, hard work and sacrifices he had made since his time being raised in a single parent home. He reflects that this will one day be a story he shares with grandchildren every time they come to visit.
Gonzales had risen from a first-generation college student with many challenges to join USIO, a top financial firm where as a vice president he uses his UTSA criminal justice degree to sniff out fraud in the financial industry.
This Roadrunner wants to not only inspire his future grandchildren but also the underserved Hispanic students in San Antonio.
We sat down with him to ask a few questions.
Can you describe your family’s economic situation when you were a child?
Growing up was tough! I am an only child and grew up in a single-parent home. My mom worked three jobs for as long as I can remember, and there were plenty of times where that wasn’t enough. I remember times where I had to pretend I wasn’t hungry, just so that my mom could eat and not sacrifice her food for me. It was truly heartbreaking, but it taught me about true, unconditional love and sacrifice.
—WAYNE GONZALES ’11,
What gave you hope that you could one day have a college degree?
When I was a teenager I realized that it was up to me on how my family’s legacy continues. Being an only child, the continuation of the family bloodline is my sole responsibility. I knew that the only way I could change the trajectory of my family’s future was to better myself.
Can you tell us the most important books you’ve read since leaving college and becoming a professional?
As a college student, what challenges did you face as a first-generation student?
There were many challenges along the way. Wondering if you were as good, as smart or as worthy of some of the more privileged students. My greatest challenge was not letting my mom down. I had made it this far and it gave my mom hope. I think every first-generation student can feel the weight of that challenge.
What advice to you have for underserved Hispanic students who are just beginning their journey to get an education?
First and foremost, know you belong here. Some people are going to try and get in your head to convince you that you do not belong in their space. You do.
Secondly, choose a major you love. When you are passionate about something, the energy and drive you display will separate you from the pack and help you to land that dream job.
Remember, hard work trumps everything. Your discipline, work ethic and sacrifice will be worth it in the end. At UTSA, I learned that no one is going to just hand me what I want. I have had to work hard for it.
What else did you learn at UTSA?
Some of my most valuable UTSA experiences weren’t academic. They were all about people—relationships, social skills, respect, pride, compassion and realizing my full potential. Most importantly, UTSA taught me leadership, how to learn from failure, and the importance of giving back.
Four years ago you said, “I may have been the first person in my family to go to college, but when the time comes for me to have my own family, they’re going to be Roadrunners. It is that simple.” Do you still feel that way?
Absolutely. Birds up!
The Roadrunner community and nearby residents are highly encouraged to cast their votes at UTSA, a designated early voting site for the March 3 Texas presidential primary election.H-E-B Student Union, Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The best way to learn what UTSA has to offer is to experience it for yourself. Come to our Open House and see all that UTSA has to offer. The day features admissions and financial aid workshops and presentations, campus tours and much more.Various Locations, Main Campus
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health care, you won’t want to miss UTSA’s 14th annual Health Professions Day. Meet with representatives of health professions programs at schools such as Texas Tech University Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, University North Texas Health Science Center, University of the Incarnate Word, and many more. Free and open to UTSA students, local area college and high school students, and community members.Student Union, Retama Galleria (SU First Floor Corridor), Main Campus
An FBI subject matter expert will discuss the threat to U.S. technology and public sector from foreign adversaries, specific technologies sought and vectors used to illicitly obtain them, how to best safeguard intellectual property.Durango Building (DB 2.112A), Downtown Campus
Why just leap when you can dash? The Alumni Association’s 36th annual Diploma Dash 5K and City Championship is a great opportunity to run or walk for a great cause: scholarships for UTSA students.Main Campus
Students are encouraged to attend to obtain important information about Spring Commencement and life after UTSA. Graduating students can order their cap and gown and other items, win prizes and capture lasting memories with fellow Roadrunners at a selfie station. Participants should take a UTSA student ID for entry.H-E-B Student Union, Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
UTSA’s first Wellbeing Fair is a part of the President’s Initiative of Enriching Campus Wellbeing. UTSA is committed to the well-being of each member of the campus community and recognizes that numerous factors contribute to overall wellness: physical and mental health, diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care, social behaviors and more. The fair will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in well-being activities, obtain well-being information and learn about available services. Participants will become more competent in making healthy decisions to take a more proactive approach in their own well-being.Paseo Principal, Student Union, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.