From North Carolina to Georgia, Gabriel Gutierrez is here, and he is not going anywhere.
“I am the only one here in Georgia in my family,” said Gutierrez, a first-generation college graduate and a part of the Piedmont community since 2014.
Gabriel Gutierrez left his home state to study at Piedmont University in 2014. It was a big step for him and his family because he would be staying in an unknown place without having his family close for support. “Family is significant to me because it has shown the value of love and appreciation. I come from a big family, and we all have stayed together through thick and thin. We support each other, and we try to help each other out as much as we can when we can,” he said which made the decision even more difficult. Nonetheless, his admissions advisor gave a welcoming idea of Piedmont’s possibility of being a home for him, so he started his journey to Piedmont. He was initially going to stay for a couple of semesters; however, Gutierrez fell in love with the campus environment and the job he was offered. So, he decided to stay in Georgia.
“It can be a new chapter, a new experience, so that was one of the big reasons that I decided to stay,” he said.
Although Gutierrez had a chance to go back to North Carolina, he decided to stay due to the new job in admissions he received at the time. He wanted to help Hispanic students with the college process and he took charge of an event done at Piedmont called Día de Familia. He wanted to make a difference by working with students of the same ethnicity and help guide them with situations or issues he knew they would go through, because he was in their shoes once. From being a student at Piedmont to now working for the undergraduate admissions department, he has the resources to give these students needed. Gutierrez said, “One of the major things I have seen is helping parents understand the college process and financial aid information. I have helped the Hispanic community by continuing to host Día de la Familia and adding new things that I know are important to know when going through the college process.” He not only works with students but also acknowledges parents since they are also in need of help.
“I have grown as a professional,” Gutierrez said. Being part of Piedmont has taught him many things throughout the years.
Throughout his time at Piedmont, Gutierrez has taken opportunities to grow as a person. Especially when comparing what he used to do back in North Carolina, he has strengthened his people skills due to the interaction with students and colleagues. Gutierrez also learned to be versatile by staying up to date with any question a student might bring depending on their situation. He has created a sense of home with Piedmont.
Even if Gutierrez is in a good place in his life right now, there was a time when no one believed he could go to college. He has turned the tables as he has now graduated from Piedmont and is turning the page for what life will bring for him.
“I think it’s going to get better,” he says as he adds on what he wants to do in the future. “For the future, I hope to take Día de Familia to different schools instead of bringing the students to Piedmont. I would like to still host one big event on campus, and then move it to the high schools afterwards.”