Hector Ruiz, Class of 2010
My student experience at Southwestern can best be described as experiential learning through new challenges. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, I decided to pursue my college career at Southwestern because of the rigorous academic environment, exposure to new ways of thinking and the strong focus on positively impacting our local and global communities. I majored in Business and minored in Spanish because of the fascinating liberal arts approach used to teach and connect both of these disciplines to any field.
As a native Spanish speaker who grew up in a solely Spanish speaking household, I wanted to stay connected to the language that reminded me of home. For this reason, I decided to minor in Spanish and sharpen my reading and writing skills during the process. The class I most enjoyed was Intermediate Oral & Written expression because of the civic engagement portion of the class where the learning happened outside of the classroom. Little did I know that Spanish and civic engagement would both be essential parts of my post-Southwestern experience.
Shortly after graduation, I began working for my family’s trucking company in Mexico. I enjoyed this experience because I was able to practice the Business and Spanish communication skills I learned at Southwestern but it in a completely different setting and country! Through this opportunity, I discovered the Accounting field which encouraged me to pursue a Masters in Accountancy at The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA).
In the Spring of 2013, I was fortunate to start a Graduate Assistantship with the UTPA Community Engagement Office. The Assistantship allowed me to help Hispanic farmers and ranchers with the development of their businesses. Through community outreach initiatives, creative marketing strategies and business plan assistance, I had the opportunity to positively impact these small business owners that primarily spoke Spanish. The most rewarding part of this experience was the ability to combine the skills and values I learned at Southwestern and apply them within my own community.
Currently, I am a Staff Accountant at McLelland & Smith, P.C., a local Accounting firm in the Rio Grande Valley. I realize that the experiences and opportunities I had in my Business and Spanish classes at Southwestern have paved the path to my current career. I know my education at Southwestern will continue to guide me through life and lead me to new opportunities to help my community.