GONZALES — As of Oct. 1, there is a new leader at the helm of the Victoria College Gonzales Center.
His name is Vince Ortiz. He was named the Gonzales Center Manager to succeed Jackie Mikesh, who retired at the end of September. He is a friendly and familiar face to many students and residents of Gonzales.
“To say I’ve got some big shoes to fill would be an understatement,” Ortiz said in an interview with the Inquirer last week. “Miss Jackie was really the backbone of this place and made lots of good things happen for Victoria College. I cannot even imagine trying to measure up to her history. I will have to go slowly and learn and make my own way here. There is a really strong team in place, and I hope we will be able to take what Miss Jackie has given us and then take it forward.
“But the one thing we will always keep in mind is helping our students and supporting our faculty.”
Ortiz first came to Gonzales in 2010, when he was hired “under a Title V grant” to help improve access to the college and resource services. One of the first things he did was reach out to Gonzales ISD to try and help high school students learn about college opportunities, financial aid, applications and other mechanics of college. He even worked at educating students on why college was a viable option for them.
“Some students didn’t even think about what was ahead of them after high school,” Ortiz said. “The ISD was kind enough to give me a small room on their campus, and then I just started talking to students and their parents and getting them to think about college or a vocational career. I worked with a lot of Hispanic and Latino families whose parents could not speak English very well and helped educate them as to what opportunities they had here in Gonzales and at other schools.”
In 2014, the Title V grant ended and Ortiz was named as the Assistant Center Director of the Gonzales Center.
“My primary responsibility was in the industrial and health management curriculum areas,” Ortiz said. “We worked hard at developing and promoting our welding, CDL, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, plumbing and even dry wall courses. I would find instructors, set up class rooms, and we would implement from there.”
Prior to coming to Gonzales, Ortiz worked for Southwest Junior College in Uvalde and did a number of increasingly important jobs for that school. From student life coordinator, to recruitment, to tech prep, Ortiz worked in all of the different disciplines. He started out in management at K-Mart, but his skills translated to the education field.
He has been married to Mary Lou Ortiz for the past 30 years, and they have three children named Kristin Michelle Bueno, Vincent Michael and Victoria Ortiz. Kristin has blessed the Ortiz family with one grandchild so far, Caleb.
“We’re going to keep building the Gonzales Center and Victoria College and move it forward,” Ortiz said with great sincerity. “We have a great foundation to build on, and I am looking forward to keep up the great work Miss Jackie did here. I am looking forward to getting out in the community and expanding my contacts in the community.”
Photo by Terry Fitzwater/Gonzales Inquirer
Vince Ortiz has taken over as the new Victoria College Gonzales Center manager as of Oct. 1. Ortiz succeeds Jackie Mikesh, who retired at the end of September.