David Velez (Student)

By University Communications

Monday, 04 01 2019

David Velez is a computer science major who discovered his passion when he was least expecting it.  After dropping out of college and going directly into the workforce, he began working in an industry that did not peak his interest, and realized that something needed to change.  While he doesn’t take his initial experiences for granted, his indifference towards his previous occupation is what ultimately led him to a field that he loves.

Velez described himself as a “late bloomer,” adding, “It took me a while to realize the consequences of bad choices.”

After leaving college, Velez went straight into the workforce in fields such as system administration and cybersecurity for about five years before going back to school. He realized system administration was not what he wanted for a career.

This epiphany is what made Velez decide to return to college for a degree.

“I realized that at some point I wasn’t going to be able to get much higher than where I was because I had no education, and I couldn’t really explain anything that I was doing,” he said.  “I could do the job just fine, but I couldn’t talk the terminology, or get into the granular bits and pieces of what I was working on. That was a problem.”

Although the University’s computer science program was well respected, Velez’s decision to attend A&M-SA was also a family affair.

Velez’s wife, Juliana, who recommended that he explore A&M-SA’s programs, attended A&M-SA herself. She liked that the class sizes were smaller and more personalized.

Velez said his wife both supported his collegiate aspirations and helped him realize his full potential. “Honestly, I didn’t really believe in myself or my ability to go back to school,” he explained.  “I thought I could just figure it out on my own, but my wife has been a strong advocate for me.”

While Valez’s wife had a significant impact on his confidence, his parents also were a source of guidance. “Like every other teenager coming out of high school, you don’t really tend to appreciate your parents’ sacrifices or why they were so tough on you,” he said.  “It was not until years later that I ended up appreciating the way they brought me up.”

Velez’s chapter at A&M-San Antonio will end this fall after commencement, but his journey here will not end once he crosses that stage. “If one person can influence others, and help people find their way, that’s a legacy,” Velez said.  “If you can help shed a little bit of light for others that are still trying to figure out who they are, that’s also a legacy.  I’d like to leave behind a legacy that allows people to come here and be who they are,” he added.

Velez said he feels that it is important for students to connect with groups of people who allow them to be and express themselves. Being able to bond with others in that way is what helped him grow academically and personally. 

“I was a shy person, but getting involved really changed that, too,” said Velez, who serves as president of the Association for Computing Machinery student organization. “If you get plugged into a community of like-minded people, you can voice your questions without fear. It can be hard to come out of your shell when you get to college, and I know how difficult it can be to feel lost.”

Velez believes good things will happen when people become part of a good community. “If you have a good community of people around you who will encourage you and show you the different paths available in life, eventually, things will fall to place. You’ll discover who you really are.”

For more information on Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s computer science program, visit: http://www.tamusa.edu/citcs/computerscience.html