Avy Gonzalez believes in leading by example. So when his children were in seventh and ninth grades, with their college years quickly approaching, Gonzalez enrolled at Austin Community College.
“As a parent, I am constantly looking to better myself for my children,” Gonzalez says. “I have always told my boys that I never expected them to do anything I haven’t done myself, so I decided to go to college and set the example.”
Gonzalez is among the hundreds of ACC students who will be honored at the college’s spring commencement. The graduation ceremony is set for Thursday, May 9, at 6 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center (1701 Red River St.).
This spring, more than 1,300 ACC students applied for graduation. The number of graduates has increased significantly in recent years, with more than 2,600 students graduating in 2011-12 – up almost 63 percent over five years ago.
“As a college president, graduation is one of my favorite times,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “To see the pride on these students’ faces, to see the joy of their friends and family – it’s a great feeling, and we’re so proud of all that our students have accomplished.”
Gonzalez, recipient of the Presidential Student Achievement Award, accomplished many things during his time at ACC, including co-chairing the ACC Mascot Search Committee and founding the Center for Student Political Studies. Gonzalez also earned El Centro’s Raymond Díaz Scholarship for Cuban-Americans. He’ll accept his associate degree in government at this spring’s ACC commencement ceremony and a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University this summer. His greatest achievement, however, is the impact his education has had on his family.
“ACC was a way for me to show my family how much I love them and how much they inspire me,” Gonzalez says. “I am grateful to ACC for allowing me to achieve our family’s goals.”
Gonzalez’s oldest son, Marco, is now majoring in science education at ACC, while youngest son Alex has already taken two years of Early College Start classes and will continue his college education at ACC this summer.
And it’s not just the next generation: Avy’s wife, Janet, will graduate from ACC this summer with a degree in Spanish. She will continue her studies at Texas State University in the fall. Avy will also continue his education at Texas State University, in the school’s graduate program for political science.
“Avy has been such an inspiration to us. He helped us see how a good education can fulfill all our aspirations and dreams,” Janet says. “Most of all, he taught me it’s never too late to change your life or your outcome.”
Graduates and guests are invited to a post-ceremony reception at the Erwin Center. For more details on the graduation ceremony, visit austincc.edu/graduation.
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