By Sawyer Massie
For the fifth time in seven years, former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales visited the SHSU campus and spoke to LEAP Ambassadors and invited guests. As in the previous times, it was informative, educational and entertaining.
To ensure each student had a chance to ask questions and follow-ups, the event was limited to about a dozen students. Christina Perez, Vice-President of the LEAP Ambassadors, led the meeting and began with an in-depth synopsis of General Gonzales’s biography. Humorously, she was cut short by Gonzales who said, “there’s no need for all that. Just play the video.”
What followed was a slideshow presentation containing photos of the former Attorney General’s adventures in the White House. After the video, we spent a long while listening to his journeys through politics, which touched on much of what the LEAP Center does: Law, Engagement, And Politics. In many respects, General Gonzales was the right person to lead such a discussion, having:
- Served as a partner at Texas’s largest law firm;
- Served as a Texas Supreme Court Justice;
- Served as White House Counsel;
- Served as US Attorney General;
- Served as a Law School Dean at Belmont Law School.
What was thought to be a formal discussion ended up being a friendly chat with a seemingly normal person. What boggled our mind the most was how down-to-earth he was. Each time his accolades and awards were brought up, he would downplay them and encourage us that we could do the same.
What he offered was encouragement, counsel to work hard, set high goals, avoid discouragement, and to choose mentors, but to choose them wisely. It’s advice that can be found elsewhere, but it was attached to personal stories that demonstrate that this can, in fact, happen. Gonzales, for example, was one of eight siblings raised by hard-working immigrant parents, neither of whom ever made it to middle school, and for several years, he was the highest-ranking Hispanic official in the history of the United States.
It was an enlightening afternoon, one that left us eager for Dean Gonzales’s next visit.