By Morgan Robertson
Last week, the LEAP Center invited SHSU students to ask questions and engage in conversation with Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. With top students participating in this small-group session, Judge Gonzales shared his experiences as Attorney General and various other positions he has held throughout his career.
After a brief introductory video…
… Judge Gonzales launched into his background, explaining how he became who he is today. Having grown up in Humble, Texas, Judge Gonzales talked of his upbringing and about how, upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the air force. Judge Gonzales was flagged as a good candidate for the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), which he attended for three years. Following his attendance at the USAFA, Judge Gonzales received a degree from Rice University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
With a natural aptitude for practicing law, Judge Gonzales worked hard and became a partner at Vinson & Elkins, one of the largest law firms in Texas. Judge Gonzales eventually left the private sector to serve on the Texas Supreme Court, after which he was asked to serve as the White House Counsel to President George W. Bush. After that, Judge Gonzales was appointed the first Hispanic Attorney General.
Judge Gonzales then shared about his experience during September 11th, 2001 as White House Counsel. For most of us, our knowledge of 9/11 consists of what we have learned from classroom settings or our parents’ own accounts. Judge Gonzales was able to share a new and enlightening, yet chilling, perspective on that day. On the morning of the attack, Judge Gonzales was meant to fly out of Dulles Airport to give a speech. Following the first attack, all airplanes were grounded, and Judge Gonzales felt it necessary to return back to the White House and await President Bush’s arrival. After finally securing a mode of transportation via navy pilot, Judge Gonzales was able to return back to the White House. Judge Gonzales recalls watching President Bush walk off of Airforce One, walk right past him without a word, and into the White House to prepare to address the nation.
Toward the end of the event, Judge Gonzales opened the room to questions and discussion. Questions ranged from inquiries about his current position as Dean of Belmont College of Law, his time as Attorney General, the tough decisions made regarding national security, and a few little known facts about the White House.
Judge Gonzales shared with the students that while intelligence is important, hard work and dedication are even more important. There will always be times when easy decisions are impossible, but the perseverance of the individual is vastly required. Judge Gonzales encouraged us to strive for excellence and continue to surpass our own expectations for ourselves.