Julio Gomez never intended to leave his home in Bogotá, Colombia, and certainly not for two advanced degrees. At 37 years old, Julio, having completed most of his coursework through a UA College of Education extension program in Bogotá, left his home for The University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa.
Julio’s face conveys the struggle he felt coming to the U.S. “It was challenging to leave my country for the first time, but I’m so happy to have done it. I saw the University as important in the States. It was a really strong research university.”
After graduating with his master’s in secondary education, Julio returned to Colombia to resume his previous teaching role at his university. It was good to be home, but he knew there was still more he could do at UA. “My master’s experience really made my decision to continue into my doctorate here. I never hesitated; this was the best place for me.”
That drive brought him back to campus within two years. This time, never having had the traditional “undergrad experience,” Julio chose to live in a residence hall. “It didn’t feel weird to be an older student on campus. It was a fresh picture of college life. You adjust and start engaging new things and opportunities. You build relationships.”
Julio’s tenacious spirit comes through when discussing what made him a successful student. For his part, he remains humble and grounded. “You have to be at a specific place in life in order to be successful at this. It was hard, and it was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.”
Crediting the University with his success as a student, Julio cites the substantial opportunities for research and publication as well as exceptional leadership from his professors. “All of my professors were really knowledgeable. So many things that I learned from my professors, I do in my own classroom. It’s also about the networking that I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed at my home university for my doctorate. It helps me develop as a scholar, and it gives me a lot of confidence.”
He puts his words to practice with networking. He is currently working with a former UA classmate from China to develop research collaboration between their respective universities half-way around the world from each other. These UA alumni are evaluating and improving English teachers in both China and Colombia, a relationship they hope strengthens each of their universities and represents The University of Alabama well.
Are you ready to join Julio and our other rising legends? The future is yours. The place is UA.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.