Candidate Profile: Jesus Manuel Tovar

Jesus Manuel Tovar

Candidate Interview

Describe 2-3 specific leadership experiences which have prepared you to serve as an International Officer.

Back in my senior year in high school, as almost any other senior, I was daunted with the subtle task of choosing which way to lead my life. For days, and weeks, and months, I contemplated several career paths and not even one seemed to be the appropriate one for me. It was not until a few months before senior year was over that one of my teachers suggested one final career path. After a small talk about my likes and interests, my teacher, Mr. Pries, suggested that I consider a career in computer science. Having nothing to lose, I accepted. A few weeks later, I learned that there would be a UIL (University Interscholastic League) competition in computer science in the upcoming weeks. In order to get a better feel for the subject, I, along with a few other students created our high school's very first computer science club. I was elected president of the club, and the club unanimously accepted to participate in the UIL event. After several weeks of preparation and rigorous studying, competition came and went, and I was left with a first place medal, a district-ranking club and two priceless discoveries.

The first discovery was that I had just realized what I wanted to do with my life. I understood that I wanted to get myself a formal education and achieve a degree in computer science. Secondly, I became aware of a very simple but overlooked lesson. Before the creation of the club, I had not had any exposure to coding. I was just as inexperienced as any other member. I perceived uncertainty among the members of the club, and I realized that I was unsure, too. In order to eliminate this hesitation, I thought that there had to be at least one person fully committed to the club. I decided to be that person, and I dived into the subject instead of merely splashing in it, all in hopes of giving the club a more certain attitude towards computer science. My efforts did not go unnoticed, and the club responded so amazingly to the point of being recognized in the district. This lesson is one I have kept very close to myself. The lesson is that no matter what the challenge is, one has to be completely devoted to the task. Since then, I have always applied this life lesson to whatever I am doing, whether it be studying, or being a chapter or regional officer.

My second leadership experience comes from serving as a chapter and regional officer. After accepting membership to Phi Theta Kappa, following my lesson of diving myself into the subject, I decided to follow my curiosity and learn what Phi Theta Kappa was all about. I was elected as webmaster of the Omega Gamma chapter and during my time, I created and uploaded my very first website. A short time later, as we were getting close to our regional convention, I was asked by my advisor to consider running for regional office. I accepted to run, and the year as a regional officer was over faster than I expected. During my time as a regional officer, I learned so much not just about Phi Theta Kappa, but also about its members. Every single member that I had the pleasure of meeting has something in common: they all want to be the best they can be. Had it not been for my curiosity of knowing what regional office was about, I would have never accepted, and, subsequently, I would have not dared to consider running for International Office. With these experiences, I have realized that anything can be done if you are willing to devote yourself and if you are willing to explore and wonder what may be next.

Beyond giving back to the organization, what is the primary reason you are seeking International Office?

Besides helping the organization grow and trying to make it better than what it already is, I am seeking International Office to develop myself. Not in the self-absorbed way, but in the way of one day using everything I have learned to give back to society in general. So far, as a chapter and regional officer, I have been able to make a difference in people's lives, whether it has been by persuading local nurseries to stop selling an invasive species as a native one, or by encouraging community college students to finish their associate's degrees before transferring. To me, knowing that I have contributed in someone's life, no matter how small, means a great deal.

I know that if I had the honor of serving as an International Officer, apart from giving back to the organization, I would get skills and new ways of thinking that one day may just make a difference in people's lives outside of Phi Theta Kappa. I am a very strong believer that every single action has a direct effect on someone's life.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing community college students today?

At first glance, it may not seem that getting a community college education is the most productive thing. To many, a community college education (or any other education) may seem as a long, highly competitive, and hard to make use of expense. I believe that this thought is responsible for making many community college students rethink their choices and drop out of school. With ever-growing social networks and the publication of status updates on behalf of friends, relatives and even complete strangers about their non-degree accomplishments, one's accomplishments may seem silly. I have been in that position.

Lack of conviction and malleability are, in my opinion, two of the most important issues that many community college students face. The fact that simple things, like seeing that someone else is doing fine without an education at any given time, may trigger thoughts of wanting to drop out and follow other steps to "success." Sure, at the time, it may bring a more pleasant life, or style of living, but the problem is that it will not last long. Community college students should understand that college is not something that is completed overnight. Time, dedication and ambition are some of the things that college requires, yet not everyone is willing to abide. More than one time, I have been told to try my best not for anyone else, but for myself. As connected as a society as we are, we often forget that the one person that you should try your best for is yourself. Community college may be a slow, tough, and arduous journey in many cases, but in the end it will get students exactly where they need to be, either working in the job that they like or on their way to a four year college or university.


Honors Study Topic Essary

What propels us from curiosity to exploration of a frontier?

What if?

There is no achievement in the history of mankind that did not begin with that simple question: what if? The leap from curiosity to exploration of a frontier is not only the beginning of any great journey, but more importantly, the beginning of the change in history. All of the things that we have, know or use nowadays are nothing but a product of this question. What if there was a better way to communicate? What if we overlooked our differences and instead focused on the things that make us similar? What if my idea could revolutionize the world?

There will always be something to be found after what we have not discovered yet. In all essence, I believe that it is our goal as humans to discover what that is. The exploration of a frontier is full of new knowledge and full of new questions. The exploration of any single frontier will never end. There are new discoveries every day, so the question is: what motivates us to continue exploring? What is our purpose in making sense of the world? It seems to me that our humanity, and desire to make the world a better place is at the center of our urge to discover as many things as we can. Our ambition to make the world a better place to live, fuels and impulses us to take the leap from curiosity to exploration.

Curiosity is one of the gifts of humans. Curiosity brings one to the threshold of discovery. It is the foundation of every worthy endeavor humankind has ever embarked on. Without curiosity, and the constant question of "what if?" it is unlikely that the human race would have ever advanced.