José Perez

Graduate Spotlight - José A. Perez

José A. Perez

Business Management with Health Care Management Specialization, Entrepreneurship, and Human Resources, December 2019

“When you have a goal, you do what you have to do to achieve it, no matter how long it takes.”

“Here I am, a 60-year-old grandfather finally getting my degree,” says José Perez. “I put my dream of going to college on hold to ensure that my family could achieve their own, and now—with their support—it is my time.”

José’s college dream included being the only one on his side of the family to graduate from college. He now looks forward to sending his mother a copy of his diploma so she can share in the pride he feels.

When José decided to get a degree in Business Management from Mid-State, he was happily working for the Post Office in a job he truly loves. He’d already sent two daughters to college, but when his wife earned her Medical Assistant degree from Mid-State, he finally felt it was time—he just had to have that college degree. “I liked what Mid-State had to offer, and when I saw they did online classes, I went for it,” he says.

Online classes offered the flexibility José would need, because he had no intention of leaving the Post Office, and still has no such plans, even after obtaining his degree. The reason, he says, comes down to his drive to provide excellent customer service to every person on his mail delivery route.

Mid-State was more than José expected. He started during the summer with two classes, and, with the accelerated pace of a shortened term, learned a lot about time management. “You need to time manage—and highlight!” he says. Working as a mailman, José would put in 50+ hours a week and sometimes have to work Sundays, on top of school. “When you have a goal, you do what you have to do to achieve it, no matter how long it takes.”

José excelled at Mid-State, citing his love of a challenge as a driving force—and now a source of some uplifting memories. “To take some information, be able to research it, and write a paper on it, and make it cohesive…submit it and get a good grade on it, you know you've accomplished something, something good,” he says.

José’s hard work led to achievement he didn’t even imagine for himself. When invited to join Beta Chi Theta, Mid-State’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society chapter, he was initially on the fence about it. He found encouragement from his wife's uncle, a member of PTK himself, who said, “Just do it—get it on your résumé if you do nothing else.” But José went beyond just membership, serving as co-president during the chapter’s first term and helping launch the new organization at Mid-State. When he was inducted, he simply stepped up his commitment, telling the club’s advisors, “If you need a president, I'll take the job.”

Other proud moments for José include submitting a business proposal to Mid-State’s president detailing why the College should consider investing in a large-scale fish tank for both students and staff to enjoy for its therapeutic effects. The proposal was well received by Mid-State leadership and is under active consideration.

But there was one business instructor who taught José another kind of important lesson about himself. “She sent me a note back on one of my papers,” he remembers. “I’d gotten a decent grade, but she said, “You can do better than this, and I expect you to do better.” It was another challenge José couldn’t resist. “I hadn't put my all into it,” he admits, adding, “This showed me that there are instructors out there who care, and they can tell the difference…. after that, I made it a point that when I submitted something, it was the best I could do.”

Today, José looks forward to graduating and getting on with his life. Retirement is just seven years away, but first he plans to look for a position in human resources with the Post Office, which would allow him to draw on all he has learned at Mid-State.

For now, he just wants to thank his wife, Annette, and children Kristie, Chelsea, and Michael, for giving him the courage and love to chase his dream.