Coming up on her 10th high school graduation anniversary, we have Marina Gonzales, a 2012 graduate of Liberty Academy.
During her time with VISD, Gonzales attended Dudley Elementary School, Patti Welder Middle School, the former Stroman and Profit high schools, as well as Victoria East High School before graduating from Liberty.
As she ventured her way through VISD, Gonzales immersed herself in many extracurriculars. This included band, tennis, National Junior Honor Society, Student Council, math club, and recycling club. However, it wasn’t just extracurricular activities that sparked her interest.
Gonzales took it upon herself to enroll in a variety of electives over the years in order to explore her interests, or as we now call it in VISD, “Finding Your ‘AND’”. This varied from classes like Auto-CAD, Construction Technology, Introduction to Engineering and Robotics. She was also hired to tutor AVID classes her senior year. Little did she know, it was courses like these that helped develop the very skills she uses on a day-to-day basis in her current role.
Though her elective courses helped her explore and find her interests, those weren’t the only source of inspiration for Gonzales. She credits her third and fourth-grade teachers, Mrs. Xochitl Gonzalez and Mrs. Kathy Bell for their parts in her developing interest in math and science. Furthermore, Gonzales credits the two teachers for inspiring her to become a teacher one day as well.
Gonzales expanded more on all the teachers who inspired her educational and professional endeavors over the next 10 years, saying “At Dudley, I had my third and fourth-grade teachers, (Gonzalez and Bell). At Patti Welder, I had my math teacher, Mrs. Moreno, and Mrs. Gina Garcia, who I worked on numerous volunteering activities with. They helped instill a passion for volunteering. At Profit, I had my English teacher, Mrs. Esther Gutierrez, who always challenged me to set goals. While at Liberty Academy I had my engineering teacher, Mrs.Cheryl Clark who always had engaging assignments and fields trips, and we got to explore different areas of engineering. It was through Mrs. Clarks’ engineering classes that I decided to work in the field of renewable energy.”
With the knowledge and inspiration given to her by all of these teachers over the years, Gonzales pursued both of her major passions, teaching and renewable energy.
Thanks to dual-credit courses during high school that resulted in an Associate of Science from Victoria College (VC), Gonzales was able to receive her Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy from Texas Tech University (TTU) two years early. After this, she earned her Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with focuses on Wind Energy, Atmospheric Science, and Curriculum and Instruction from TTU as well.
Gonzales then brought the first of her passions to life when she decided to become a professor, making teaching stops at VC, Western Texas College and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS).
Fast forward to today, and Gonzales is actively living another passion of hers, working in the field of renewable energy. She is currently a project engineer at DNV Energy Systems working on wind farm development. Right now, she works with lenders and banks who invest in wind farms and helps oversee the development and construction of wind farms across the United States and Canada. Gonzales’ team and she oversee approximately $20 billion dollars of wind farm construction a year.
Though she is soon to be 10 years removed from VISD, Gonzales can still name some key memories, or should I say shenanigans? Either way, when asked about her favorite memory from her school days, she stated “It’s a tossup between the Stroman High School food fight in 2009 and the Liberty Academy senior prank we pulled on our principal. We snuck into her office and filled her office up with hundreds of balloons.”
On a serious note though, Gonzales left a list of great advice for current students:
Join AVID, if you can
Talk to your counselor about your interest to see if VISD offers any classes related
Talk to your counselor about scholarship opportunities
Take field trips to tour trade schools and colleges
Take dual-credit courses or classes at CTI
Join school clubs that interest you, regardless if you know anyone in the club
Find a mentor
Talk to us! We want to share about VISD alumni and what you’ve been up to since high school. If you are a VISD alumnus or know any alumni, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information, and we’ll reach out to gather information from you.
Sienna Rodriguez is the communications specialist at Victoria ISD.