Carolyn Bogott: Gonzalez Perez has walked an unexpected path to helping people

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Johana Gonzalez Perez is confident and self-assured in her position as development coordinator at the new Community Action Building, working for the Parenting Resource Center and the Welcome Center.

She was born and grew up here in Austin, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrant parents. During her childhood, she didn’t picture herself in the sort of job she now has.  Her family received help from the Welcome Center and others in Austin and Johana likes the fact that she can now give back to our community.

During her school years she was very aware that her parents had sacrificed much to give her and her siblings opportunities that they had not had themselves. In response to that, she studied hard and followed all the rules. She was reserved and did not take part in any school activities. Her high school class was the first to be offered the opportunity to use the Austin Assurance Scholarship Program to attend Riverland Community College. 

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Johana went to the introductory meetings and set her goal to get this scholarship opportunity. The grade point average was no problem for her, but the volunteer hours required took her a little way out of her “comfort zone.”

Once she earned the scholarship, she credits having an Austin Assurance advisor following her from high school to Riverland as a great support.  Her Riverland advisor suggested she do work study hours and was assigned to work with the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs   Heidi Goebel.

Here Johana had to greet students and staff and answering a myriad of questions.

There was a steep learning curve to absorb all the information she needed in this job, and she was forced to gain skill in being more outgoing. She is so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow with Heidi’s support.

She also loved her experiences in her Human Services classes,  the teaching as well as the camaraderie of the students in that program.

Johana says she wanted her college experience to be more than high school had been, so she participated in more activities including Pi Theta Kappa Honor Society and DEEDS (Dedication, Education, Empowerment, Diversity, Service) the service club of her chosen major, Human Services. She was chosen president of the Riverland chapter of PTK and led this organization well during her tenure.

As she approached her graduation at Riverland, she applied for and was hired as an administrative assistant for the Welcome Center. In that job she served as a receptionist, as well as doing advocacy and social service roles, helping with documents, copying forms and making phone calls for clients. 

When the Welcome Center and Parenting resource Center came under one director, her job changed and has continued to change as that merger matures.  Currently, she is doing less direct work with clients and more of the marketing side of things and promotion of the many programs offered to clients of both entities.

Johana says her prime motivator is her family who are very proud of her accomplishments. She also sees that much can be accomplished when people work together, and this invigorates her. She feels a responsibility to be a role model for others, especially for other first generation immigrants.

Johana Gonzalez Perez, you have every right to feel proud of yourself!  You have worked very hard and done well.  Thanks for giving back to our community!

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  or Carolyn Bogott  The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.