By Selene Rodriguez
From a college student with no clear goal to senior director of a thriving teacher certification company, South Texas College alumnus Luis Gonzalez is a prime example of how the right resources and dedicated instructors can profoundly change a student’s life.
“It took me 15 years to get to where I am, but I certainly owe all my success to this college and to the instructors that saw enough potential in me and inspired me to always strive for excellence.”
It was precisely that inspiration combined with STC’s quality education and resources that helped him create “Excellence in Education,” a certification company started merely as a capstone project, which he later merged with “Teach Us,” a competency-based teaching certification program.
He said his lifetime mission is guiding aspiring educators towards their ultimate goal of a teacher certification.
“I want to make an impact on education the way STC made an impact on me,” the 43-year-old said. “My student experience was exceptional because of the caring and qualified instructors that I had. I want to take part in encouraging more teachers to be as dedicated and passionate as mine were.”
Before enrolling at STC’s Mid-Valley campus in 2003, the Weslaco native spent years trying to find the right college and major. He even received a golf scholarship and pursued engineering at other four-year universities, but it was STC’s quality instructors and unique student experience that sparked his admiration for education.
“STC was just the better choice. My professors were available and truly committed to my success. It was an experience I hadn’t had anywhere else,” he said. “I started by taking a couple of classes parttime at the Mid-Valley campus, but eventually I found myself driving all the way to the Pecan campus to continue studying. I just loved being a student at STC.”
With enough credits to graduate with three associate degrees in Math, Interdisciplinary Studies and Physics, Gonzalez also took the next step and enrolled in STC’s Technology Management, now Operations Management program, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2009.
“It’s because of the strong bond I formed with my instructors that I started thinking how to promote the amazing work they do and help them grow professionally,” he said. “With their help, I identified areas of improvement in our community such as bilingual certification and English as a Second Language and submitted my project for an alternative certification program.”
Enthusiastically inspired by the profession, Gonzalez transformed his academic project into “Excellence in Education,” a company meant to encourage more teachers to change lives by giving them easier access to a variety of certifications.
He was successfully able to maintain accreditation for his company for 15 years before merging with “Teach Us” in 2022.
Through his work, Gonzalez hopes to inspire teachers to value themselves as professionals and realize the impact they make every day in the classroom.
“I found that customer service can really make a difference, especially when a student is lost and a lack of direction could stop his/her academic journey,” he explained. “Through this company we want to encourage teachers and instructors to be lifelong learners, we want them to be involved and to stay committed to the profession. There’s many areas of improvement they can take towards a better quality of life.”
Gonzalez continues to take inspiration from STC, where it all begin, to continue empowering educators everywhere and promote the importance of education in moving the Rio Grande Valley forward.
“It’s important that the community knows what a gem they have in STC. This college provides so many families with hope of a better future and quality of life,” he said. “We want our community to move forward and that can only be through education.”