Since graduating from Southwestern with a bachelor’s degree in business almost 12 years ago, Hector E. Ruiz ’10 has become one of the University’s staunchest supporters. Ruiz has been a recruitment volunteer since 2010, representing Southwestern at college fairs and other events. He is a member of the Hispanic Alumni Connection Group and the LGBTA Alumni Connection Group and serves as homecoming planning coordinator for both groups. He is a Giving Day Ambassador and regularly writes letters and emails to his classmates to encourage them to give back to the University and participate in reunions and other activities.

In many ways, he’s just as involved with Southwestern now as he was when he was a student.

“Hector’s heart is with Southwestern University,” says Ruiz’s sister, Nuria Ruiz-Segovia.

As a high school senior, Ruiz was attracted to Southwestern’s interdisciplinary approach to education and focus on positively impacting the local and global communities. He was involved with a number of organizations while on campus, including the Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice, Latinos Unidos, EBONY, the University Programming Council, Student Congress, and Sigma Delta Pi. These experiences cemented Ruiz’s passion for supporting and serving others.

His university experience completely shaped him into the extraordinary person he is today,” Ruiz-Segovia says. “He was already the most kindhearted individual I know, but his experience at Southwestern helped him speak out for himself and others.”

Ruiz went on to earn his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas–Pan American (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). Today he is a senior staff accountant with McLelland & Russell PLLC in Harlingen, Texas.

Christine Kettle Bowman ’93, dean of admission and enrollment services at Southwestern, notes that Ruiz’s presence at admission events in South Texas has been particularly impactful. He not only explains the value of a liberal arts education at these events, but also shares his own experience as an undergraduate and discusses how Southwestern supports students from all backgrounds and perspectives.

“Hector’s Southwestern experience has both motivated and inspired several students to apply and eventually enroll,” Bowman says. “His love for Southwestern radiates when he speaks to prospective students and their families.”

Ruiz has held two roles on the Alumni Council, the governing body of the Southwestern University Alumni Association. He served as class relations chair from 2012 to 2016 and as student recruitment and retention chair from 2016 to 2018. He has helped raise more than $25,000 for the student organization Pirates for Pride, which invited him to speak at its Lavender Graduation ceremony in 2019, and has formally mentored six students through the Alumni Network Mentoring Program.

In addition to his volunteer work with Southwestern, Ruiz is involved with a number of community organizations. He currently serves as president of the board for the South Texas Equality Project (STEP) and as treasurer of Texas Pride Impact Funds. He also is the coordinator of the LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative Scholarship Program for the Teach for America Rio Grande Valley PRISM chapter, the facilitator of the LGBTQ+ support group at Mariposa Wellness Center in McAllen, a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens Rio Grande Valley Rainbow Council, and a volunteer deputy registrar for the Northern Cameron County Democrats.

“Hector is a deeply loving and caring soul. Everything he does is from a place of gratitude and love,” says Heraclio Flores, who serves on the board of STEP with Ruiz. “My favorite part of working with Hector is seeing his eyes tear up with emotion as we do meaningful work that contributes to creating safer and more affirming spaces for LGBTQIA+ persons in South Texas.”

For his inspiring attitude and unwavering commitment to Southwestern, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Hector Ruiz with the Distinguished Southwestern Service Award.