Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers: SHPE Happens
Subject: SHPE, Engineers, Hispanic Organization
An open letter to SHPE members:
I almost dropped out of college in my first year. I was failing every single class. My inner city, Chicago public school education was failing me. I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel.
Today I am a CEO of a multi-million dollar high-tech company with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, an MBA, and I have authored three books; the first one being, The Logic of Success.
So what happened? SHPE happened! Let me step back and explain. Within the first few months of college I was struggling. I was failing almost every mid-term exam that came my way. Chemistry? D Calculus? D Physics? You guessed it, D.
I was depressed and felt lost. One day as I sat in the cafeteria staring off into nowhere trying to figure out my next move, a short, stout gentleman, with a bushy mustache approached me. He introduced himself as the Hispanic counselor for the university. His name was Octavio Mateo. He asked me how things were going. I told him, “Not good!”
After explaining what was happening, he asked me to stop by his office to continue our talk and that he might be able to help. Hell…that was enough to pique my interest.
So later on that day, I strolled across campus to meet Octavio. As I walked I kept asking myself, “Now how could this guy possibly help me?” and more importantly “Why does he want to help me?”
(Author’s note: I from Chicago’s inner city, the ’hood, where no one helps you unless they want something from you. So you can imagine my suspicion.)
Octavio saw me coming across the grassy knoll, greeted me at the door and invited me into his office. The first question out of his mouth was, “Have you ever heard of SHPE?”
“No.” I replied.
He then went on to explain that it was a Hispanic organization comprised of students pursuing engineering or technical degrees. As he was explaining the benefits of joining SHPE, another student walked into the office named Mario. Octavio introduced me, “Victor, you mentioned you were having problems with calculus. Mario is a teacher’s assistant for the Math department who I’ve asked to help you with your coursework. We also have other graduate students who would be more than happy to help you with the other classes you’re having problems with.” I didn’t know what to say. All I could do was nod my head yes and pick my jaw off the ground.
Who could’ve imagined that such an organization existed on campus! But more importantly, who could’ve imagined that a Hispanic organization of this caliber existed at all! The rest of my college story is, as they say, history. It took me five years to graduate, but I did it.
There are moments in our lives that can only be appreciated in hindsight. I look back at my encounter with Octavio as major event. To put it in engineering terms so you get my meaning, it was an “inflection point” where my success curve began to move in the right direction with minimum degradation and oscillation.
SHPE is a great organization. Wear your membership with pride. Now, as great leaders, I want you to do me a favor. The next time you go pass the campus cafeteria, I want you to stop and take a moment to look around. If you see a young man or lady sitting alone, staring off into nowhere with a confused and concerned look, go over there introduce yourself and ask, “How are things going?”
Make SHPE happen!
Victor Antonio G.
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Copyright © 2005 by Victor Antonio G. All rights reserved. This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body. All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio G.
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