The University College student has brought the skills he learned in the Army to campus.
by Kurt Gottschalk“Learning to lead, and also to be a positive, supporting follower, are both necessary components for successful teamwork. Developing these military skills has been incredibly valuable at helping me complete my business degree here at Adelphi.”—Alejandro Gomez
The years between the time Alejandro Gomez spent working as a financial adviser and stockbroker and his more recent studies in the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, by his own account, shaped him forever.
“My time in the Army changed my life,” he said. “You have serious responsibilities that can affect your life and the lives of others. The stress really takes you to the limit; it pushes you physically to do things you never did before.”
As a working adult and University College student with experiences well beyond the average Adelphi undergrad, Gomez brought skills honed on active duty in Iraq when he returned to school.
“When serving in the military, you must adapt and quickly overcome unforeseen obstacles,” he said. “You have to try to become aware of all resources available, then utilize those most effective in order to complete the mission. Learning to lead, and also to be a positive, supporting follower, are both necessary components for successful teamwork. Developing these military skills has been incredibly valuable at helping me complete my business degree here at Adelphi.”
At the age of 40, Gomez isn’t always a natural fit with most of his classmates. His youthful appearance might help him blend in, but attitude, he said, is key.
“Going back to school when you’re older—you have to deal with a lot of internal battles, but I know what I came here to do,” he said. “I came here to get my degree. Everything else is just not that important.”
Gomez was born in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital and largest city. When he was 9, he moved with his parents to Rosedale in Queens, New York. Eight years later, the family relocated again, this time to Valley Stream, on Long Island. He served in the Army from 2003–2007, reaching the rank of sergeant. From 2005–2006, he was stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq, serving as a unit supply specialist although, as he put it, “When you’re in Iraq, you do whatever needs to get done—they pull you every which way.”
Returning to civilian life is often hard for those who have served, but Gomez persevered. He knew he wanted to return to the world of finance—but with a new set of tools.
He related how the first two years of civilian life were challenging for him. “It’s difficult to watch the news, and it’s difficult to hear other people’s perspectives about why we’re in Iraq. It goes away, thankfully, but those first two years, you hear something on the news and it’s like a fire in your gut.”
Now fully immersed in student life, Gomez is taking extra classes to prepare for a master’s degree program in financial engineering.
“I finished my degree last year but I’m not done—there’s too much to learn,” he said.
He’s been able to chart a new course for himself at Adelphi with the support of the GI Bill, an option he says many returning vets don’t take advantage of because they think they must maintain an A average or that the government financial assistance provided must be repaid.
“There’s so many misconceptions about the GI Bill,” he said. “It’s a win/win situation. I can’t think of any reason not to take advantage of it. …You could be here on this beautiful campus!’”
For Gomez, the dream job is to design software used for trading stocks, something he began learning about at Adelphi.
“I made it this far and at this age I realized my passion is not in going back to being a financial adviser,” he said. “My interest is in financial management. I’m playing my going-back-to-school card right now. I’m not doing it again.”
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