Griselda Gonzales says her children motivated her resolution to pursue a college degree, while raising a family. “It was my desire to show them something different from how I was raised,” she says, “I did not know how, but I knew that education was the only way to get ahead.” Growing up, she recalls, she didn’t personally know any Latinos in professional careers, and also didn’t know how to leverage a college education. “I thought it was for others,” she says. “Not me.”
Ultimately, she made the decision to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, at San Antonio College. By this time, she was the mother of three children, and going back to school was not easy, as she had to navigate obstacles related to finances, time availability, the need for daycare, and transportation. Still, she persevered, and later, after her husband had completed his BS in Nursing, she returned to college and earned a BS in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She says that during this time, her HSF Scholarship enabled her to continue to go to college, and pay for her books.
With her degree, she began her career as an Analyst at Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., and then moved to Klotz Associates, where she worked her way up from Engineering Associate to Project Engineer. Her growth trajectory continued when she took a position as a Project Manager for EHRA Engineering, where she managed teams who provided engineering services to both public and private clients.
Today, she is a Principal Engineer for The Goodman Corporation, a transit and mobility project planning firm, based out of Texas. Her experience with public and private infrastructure projects helped design and construct a memorial park at the corner of a high-traffic intersection, where, according to the Houston Chronicle, a number of pedestrians and cyclists have been struck by motor vehicles. The project brought together engineers, activists, politicians, and neighbors, in an effort to shift driving and walking culture, and increase safety within the community. She also manages and mentors the firm’s engineers in training program.
Outside of work, she is currently Vice President of Professional Affairs Elect, for the American Society of Civil Engineers Texas Section, an organization where she also previously served as Government Affairs Committee Chair. In 2018, she was also involved in a project through Leadership Houston, to provide resources to homeless youth. Her role as an “extraordinary mother…providing a strong moral character and role model” was recognized in 2016, when she was awarded the Houston Women’s Magazine Maximum Mom Award.
As an HSF Alum and mentor, she has been able to share her story with the HSF network, and she values knowing that she has been able to inspire others. She believes that HSF is able to contribute to the future of the US through the development of the Hispanic community, “by assisting with education and job opportunities, providing networking opportunities, and changing mindsets.”
Her advice to those about to embark on their professional career is direct. She says, “Never stop learning,” and adds, “take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way.”