Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Director, SOAR TRIO

What is your approach to advising/working with students?

During my undergraduate work, I learned from a long time student services professional mentor that “people join people, not organizations.” I have used this simple, yet powerful framing to remind myself that interactions with students, staff, faculty, administrators, and the community at-large, need to be grounded in relationship building and earning trust. The tiles we have and the roles we play often place student service professionals in a position of power and deference from students and communities — especially those from underserved/nontraditional backgrounds.  It is important to honor that trust and respect through honesty, advocacy and social justice.  

How did you get here?

I was born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico.  Mostly of indigenous descent, I came to the U.S at the age of 8, spending the next 10 years undocumented and raised in a low socioeconomic and low education household in National City, a blue collar town in San Diego County.  I was a “conditional admit,” a student who did not meet the entrance criteria but showed promise through the Educational Opportunity Program at San Diego State University (SDSU).  In 1996, I moved to San Francisco to embark on an MPA (Master’s of Public Administration) program at SF State, which I completed in 2002.

I began honing my student service skills at SDSU working with first time freshmen and transfer students as an Orientation Leader/Ambassador.  I also worked as a College Prep Advisor at Sweetwater High in National City (my alma matter) encouraging students to apply to college and for FAFSA (federal Free Application for Student Aid), and as a School Relations Assistant, representing SDSU and CSU at regional college fairs in SoCal.  At SF State, I was instrumental in developing and running two Student Support Services/TRIO programs and currently direct SOAR TRIO (one of those programs) in the Student Resource Center in the College of Health & Social Sciences.

Most unusual job you ever had?

I was an extra (along with over 1,000 others) in Alameda CA, for the movie trilogy called The Matrix.

About me (likes and hobbies)

I love music, cooking, decorating, and making things.  I love traveling with my wife Heather, son Joaquin and daughter Dahlia.  Also, I love my dog Pepper (Baron von Wyatt from the Milo Foundation in Richmond CA).  I like to read, stay current on social issues, politics, philosophy, self help, and enjoy developing and participating in support groups.

What is your favorite book?

The books by Carlos Castaneda where he chronicles his interactions with an indigenous shaman from Latin America were life changing.

What advice do you have for SF State Gators?

It’s OK to fail — this is how we learn the most.  Seek your community for support, because no one does it alone and work on loving and healing yourself — you will overcome anything if you do this.

(415) 405-3740