DAVENPORT – When Gonzalo Pereira says he ‘enjoys a challenge,’ he’s not kidding.
On Dec. 19 he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business, and two additional majors in Management and Marketing. He also earned a minor in Supply Chain Management and completed that heavy academic load in just 3 1/2 years.
At the same time, Gonzalo was a student-athlete on the men’s soccer, volleyball, and tennis teams; served as an international student ambassador; worked at the Wellness and Recreation Center and for Sodexo; and participated in Model UN.
“Setting goals and holding myself to high standards were things my parents instilled in me as a child. I always enjoy a challenge,” he said. “But what I am most proud of are the connections I made with people who value what I have done in the past three years.”
An international student from Ecuador, Gonzalo knew his whole life he was preparing for a journey abroad. His parents believed he would have more opportunities attending college in the United States, and when the time came they turned to an agency that connects student-athletes with universities. Gonzalo, a skilled soccer player, received multiple scholarship offers.
“I was looking for somewhere I could experience the American culture, and what is more American than Davenport, Iowa?” he said. “I also wanted a university where I would not get lost and St. Ambrose was the perfect one in a nice city.”
His transition to college life in the U.S. was not difficult. “The biggest challenge I faced was time management. There are so many things you can do at SAU that you need to decide which ones are priorities. That was the hardest part,” he said.
And the priorities he set were valuable. Working at the WRC and for Sodexo strengthened his communication skills. As a student ambassador, Gonzalo gained leadership experience by guiding and supporting new international students. Through team athletics – soccer, in particular – he learned that ethnic differences do not matter. Ultimately, everyone is compatible.
“When we are on the field, everyone has to work together and go in the same direction,” he said. “When it comes to playing, it is all of us against everyone else.”
“But what I am most proud of are the connections I made with people who value what I have done in the past three years,” he said, adding faculty and peers were always available if issues arose. “The professors were always reachable, and that is not something all schools have, and they were always present, which is the most important thing,” he said.
Gonzalo hopes to remain in the U.S. and wants to establish his life here. He is actively seeking work and wants to start his career in a position that will use and build on his supply chain knowledge.
As a person who ‘enjoys a challenge,’ obviously that will be his first step. Gonzalo plans to work in many different industries and successively move into roles of higher responsibility and leadership. His ultimate goal is to become the chief executive officer of a hospital or healthcare system.
“Right now, I want to go to work and gain as many mentors and skillsets as possible. I believe I am ready to take in any advice or knowledge I can,” he said. “I am looking to impress people, especially myself. Whatever industry I am working in, what matters is the reputation I gain from people.”