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Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association

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Ronald "Ronnie" J. Garcia '75

10/14/2013 11:30 PM | Thomas Jefferon High School Alumni Association (Administrator)
Ronald "Ronnie" J. Garcia '75 joined the Mustang Band back in 1972, and has kept music close to his heart. These days, most know him as "Ron." His wife, Cynthia (Rodriguez) Garcia, and sister, Brenda (Garcia) Farias, are also Thomas Jefferson High School graduates. Ron and Cynthia are the proud parents of Ronald Jr. and Amanda Garcia.

Ron played the trumpet in the Mustang Band and Stage Band. He was selected as the Outstanding Band Member his senior year and was recognized at Chuckwagon. Ron was also a member of Senate, National Honor Society, Bi-Phy-Chem, Sophomore Scholastic Society, and served as a Junior Class Representative.

After high school, Ron attended the University of Texas at Austin and marched with the Longhorn Band from 1975-78. His favorite year in the band was 1977. Ron witnessed every game of Earl Campbell's amazing 1977 Heisman Trophy winning season and performed at the 1978 Cotton Bowl. Starting his sophomore year, he participated in a Co-op program and alternated semesters working as a student engineer trainee with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Arlington, Texas. Ron graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1979.

Later, Ron attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, on a part-time basis, after work, from 1981 to 1986. He graduated with a Masters in Business Administration.

After graduating from UT Austin, Ron started work at Kelly AFB as a Mechanical Engineer. His job was to develop the computer aided design and manufacturing capabilities of the San Antonio Air Logistics Center in the maintenance and repair of C-5, B-52 and C-130 aircraft, and F100 engines. In 1988, he was selected to serve a one year fellowship with the Maintenance Policy Directorate, Office of Secretary of Defense, Pentagon, Washington D.C., which gave him valuable experience regarding the inner working of the Department of Defense (DoD). In 1989, Ron returned to Kelly AFB and served in a variety of engineering and resource management jobs of increasing responsibility culminating in 1997, as Technology and Industrial Support Resource and Logistics Services Division Chief. Highlights of his career since include: serving as the Air Force Scientist and Engineer (S&E) Career Program Chief at Randolph AFB, where he was in charge of recruiting over 100 civilian S&Es per year for the entire Air Force and for the career development of 10,000 civilian S&Es across the Air Force, earning him the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award; serving as the Chief of the Aeromedical Test Branch at Brooks City-Base in 2008, where he led the safe-to-fly testing of medical devices for use on life-saving aeromedical evacuation flights with the military.

Since 2010, Ron has served as the Chief of Engineering Policy and Force Development with the Cryptologic Systems Division at Lackland AFB, where he and his staff develop and oversee implementation of systems engineering policy used in the acquisition of critical secure communication devices used in the DoD, as well as recruit civilian S&Es for division force renewal. In his 35 years of federal service, Ron is most proud of his accomplishments in the recruitment, development and mentorship of hundreds of the Air Force’s current and future civilian S&E workforce. This includes working with the San Antonio community in encouraging K-12 students, many from underrepresented demographics, to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

While at Kelly, in the 1990’s, Ron chaired five bowl-a-thons and raised over $50,000 for scholarships in support of a base-sponsored, non-profit organization. In 1992, while serving as President, he initiated the idea of bringing famed math teacher Jaime Escalante (subject of the movie “Stand and Deliver”) to San Antonio to speak to the community and to speak to students at Thomas Jefferson High School. Ron took the idea to the San Antonio Education Partnership, and with their help, he was able to bring this to fruition. Mr. Escalante spoke to an assembly of summer high school students from SAISD in the Thomas Jefferson High School Auditorium, and then proceeded to a math class, in session, where he gave some inspiration to the class students.

Aside from Ron's parents, Arnulfo and Viola Garcia, who served as a tremendous inspiration to him growing up, Ron shared the following about the individuals were most influential:

"Mr. Charles Kuentz, Jr., Thomas Jefferson Class of 1952, was the Mustang Band Director for my first year and a half at Jefferson. I first met him when I was at Longfellow Junior High. He allowed several 9th graders, including me, to participate with the Mustang Band in Summer Band Camp and also took the band to march at a Houston Oilers Pre-Season Halftime Show at the Astrodome. I could tell this man had big dreams and goals for the band, and I wanted to be part of it! He was demanding and a perfectionist as a band director, but also had a lot of charisma and a sense of humor. You really wanted to do well for him and not let him down. I learned a lot about perseverance and leadership from Mr. Kuentz, lessons I hold dear today.

Mr. Pete Van De Putte was my band director my last year and a half at Jeff. He really encouraged my development as a trumpet player and leader, appointing me section leader in the marching, concert and stage bands. He selected me to play “La Virgen de la Macarena,” a major trumpet solo with band accompaniment, which I played in the Jeff auditorium for the spring concert my senior year.

The summer before my senior year, was selected and attended a five-week summer science program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I learned about computer programming and pre-calculus.

The following teachers in Math and Science were influential in my decision to pursue engineering as a career: Ms. Werner, Mr. Serna, Mr. Weiss, Mr. Massey and Mr Sutton. They challenged me to do better in class and helped me hone my skills necessary to become an engineer."

In his spare time, Ron performs with the Helotes Area Community Concert and Jazz Band, under the direction of Mr. Charles Kuentz Jr., his former Jefferson Band Director. They perform at Helotes Movie Nights and celebrate Spring, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day and Christmas. Ron also performs with the Northminster Presbyterian Church Brass Choir. He leads this group in performances during Easter, Christmas and other services. His son, daughter and nephews perform with him in this group. Ron performs once a year with the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band, where as many as 700 former Longhorn Band Members get to reunite and perform during halftime at a UT Austin Football Game at D. K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin. In recent years, Ron promoted and supported the Thomas Jefferson Alumni Band halftime performances by recruiting former band members to march during a halftime show as a fundraiser for the current Mustang Band.

Ron offers the following advice to fellow Mustangs:

"Take advantage of every possible opportunity to attain higher education. Opportunities are out there; it takes perseverance and hard work to find them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from advisors and teachers.

Don't be afraid to be mobile and, if necessary, leave San Antonio or Texas, in pursuit of higher education or career opportunities. Too many students, especially those pursuing STEM careers, limit their education and careers to the local area, many times missing out on education and job opportunities, not to mention the chance to discover and explore other parts of our nation. San Antonio is a wonderful place to live, and opportunities abound here; however, so much can be learned by living, even temporarily, in other parts of our state and nation. It can be difficult to be away from family and friends, but, if necessary, take the bold leap and discover the opportunities that are available in this great nation of ours; San Antonio will still be here to return to.

Take pride in your community and school. You have the good fortune of attending one of the nation’s most beautiful schools with a tradition of graduating many past national and local leaders and talented individuals. Keep the tradition alive by being the best that you can be!”

The TJHS Alumni Association thanks Ronald Garcia for this interview and for serving a great role model for all Mustangs.

Contributing Writer: Michelle Resendez Mata
Photos Provided By: Ronald J. Garcia

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The Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association is in the process of establishing a 501(c)(3) organization. The Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association is a Texas Domestic Non Profit Corporation. 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization Application Pending.

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TJHS Alumni Association, PO Box 780024, San Antonio, TX 78278-0024 | | 210-570-TJHS
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