COURTESY ADAN GONZALEZ Adan Gonzalez (COL ’15) won a $25,000 award to fund his service efforts to help young people in Texas excel academically.
COURTESY ADAN GONZALEZ
Adan Gonzalez (COL ’15) won a $25,000 award to fund his service efforts to help young people in Texas excel academically.

Four years ago, Adan Gonzalez (COL ‘15) rolled his bag to the airport on his way to start his freshman year at Georgetown University. Even though he had not yet arrived on campus, he already felt different.
“At the airport I had one carry-on luggage [piece] and I couldn’t afford the fee,” Gonzalez said. “I was left with ten dollars in my pocket for two weeks. So I imagined one day I would make this experience different for someone else. That led to the Trailblazers Program.”

The Trailblazers Program, which provides students with free luggage, is just the latest of Gonzalez’s initiatives that are part of a nonprofit he created in 2012 called Si, Se Puede. The organization provides students with academic advice, helps them discover scholarships and encourages them to participate in community service programs.

In November, Gonzalez received the most votes in the Coors Light Líderes Program Competition and won $25,000 to fund his organization’s efforts. The Coors Light Líderes Program, which launched in 2006, celebrates leadership within the Hispanic community and nominates 12 Hispanic leaders each year to compete for the award.

Gonzales will use the money to develop a Latino leadership project in collaboration with AVANCE-Dallas, a nonprofit organization that provides educational support for those at risk in the community.

“Adan is a tireless advocate for his community. We are delighted to recognize his work and partner with him on a program that will benefit Latino families and the local community,” Director of Community Commerce and Partnerships for the MillerCoors Brewing Company Alberto Senior wrote in a statement.
Gonzalez chose to partner with AVANCE-Dallas because as a young child growing up in Dallas, he benefited from the organization’s services.

“Everything comes full circle, I was part of that program 16 years ago so being able to represent them in this capacity was cool. … Early childhood education is lacking in the country, it’s a big factor of why our public education is suffering” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that his desire to provide educational support to impoverished youth comes from difficulties he faced during his childhood.

“When I was in middle school I saw my dad crying for the first time because we couldn’t pay the rent and we were about to lose our home … That’s the reason I’m here,” Gonzalez said. “All that struggle, I’m here because of that.”

In addition to starting Si, Se Puede, Gonzalez has logged over 12,000 hours of community service, served D.C. schools as an assistant teacher and worked as a White House intern.

“It’s worth it, every moment of it, every struggle, because I see the impact at home in my community,” Gonzalez said. “They are living a journey through me that no one ever thought was possible. I never thought it was possible.”

Carmen Marsans, senior vice president of client services at the Hispanic public relations firm Comunicad, has worked with the Coors Light Líderes program for several years. She said that Gonzalez has made a true impact on his community.

“I have asked a lot of people in Dallas about this network and it is helping so many other Latinos be able to have at least the knowledge that someone cares for them,” Marsans said. “As far as I can see, I think that Adan is going to go places, and I think that Adan may very easily have his name be resonating for many years to come because he has that fire and that commitment. He really wants to do it for his family and his parents and as a mentor to his brother and for others. That is why we chose him.”
Gonzalez said that although he hopes to inspire others, his main goal is to work beside his neighbors and friends to build a better community.

“A lot of people point at me and say I’m special and say, ‘He’s from the hood, he’s made it out,’ but my goal is to make ‘hood’ a place people want to be part of,” Gonzalez said. “According to numbers, I grew up in poverty. I hate the word ‘poverty’ but if that’s what they call it so be it.”

One person who has been a part of that journey his entire life is Gonzalez’s younger brother Eric. Although he is only 12 years old, Eric has had a profound effect on Adan.

“He is always pushing me to try harder … When he first started he would go in to talk to my teachers and give speeches at my school and I would be so embarrassed because I wasn’t used to it, but then everyone started congratulating me because I have a brother like him,” Eric Gonzalez said. “Now, I’m proud of him.”

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