Housing Director Perez Retires After 32 Years of Service
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Charlie Perez's passion and character exuded with every tear he fought back and especially the ones he wiped away.
As Texas State Technical College's Housing Director for the past 32 years, no one had a bigger influence on the students at TSTC than Perez.
On Thursday, Perez showed up for work one last time as the 63-year old Harlingen native decided earlier in the year that he would retire at the end of July.
"I compare this to when a baseball or football star says they don't know when to retire or walk away," Perez said. "That's how I felt. I wasn't sure how to retire or when to retire. But I know that it's time and it's time for someone else to take over. My wife retired earlier this year and now we're going to enjoy our time off and together. It's hard to walk away but it's time and we're looking forward to the rest of our lives."
Perez has held the same position at TSTC since 1982, when he joined the staff for what he thought would be a short period. He's seen and helped student housing grow from old barracks to the lively community it is today.
And no one's benefited more than the students.
Estella Bravo, 21, from Los Fresnos has lived in the dorms for two years and served as a residence assistant in the past. She described Perez as a father figure to the nearly 300 students that live in the dorms during the school year.
Bravo said Perez will be missed by every student that lives and has lived in the dorms.
"He's just a great person that's always willing to help you," Bravo said. "I've made mistakes in my past but Mr. Perez is always the type of person to give you a second chance in life. He made me a better person and a better leader. He loves the students here and we're all going to miss him so much."
Perez comes from an accounting background and owned a finance company before coming to work for TSTC.
At the time, he said the dorms were simply known as the "No A/C (air conditioning)" and the "A/C" dorms. They remained nameless until the early 1990s, when Perez decided to liven up the housing community and give the three dorms official names.
"We had a committee and bounced around a bunch of names," Perez said. "We couldn't come to a decision until one student said, 'why don't we name them after the trees that are planted near each building?'"
So that's how TSTC ended up with the Oak Tree, Palo Blanco and Las Palmas dormitories.
Perez also spearheaded the addition of sand volleyball and tennis courts near the dorms in order to give the students something to do during their free time. More recently, Perez added a game room to the housing community that stays open longer that the game room in the Student Center on campus.
TSTC Interim President Stella Garcia said the college will miss Perez dearly.
"He just had such a great passion for the job and mostly the students," Garcia said. "We're all going to miss him but no one's going to miss him more than the students."
Former Financial Aid System Analyst Jaime Aguilar took over as Housing Director effective Aug. 1 and said he's got some big shoes to fill.
"I saw how much Charlie cared for the students and that's what I'm going to continue doing in my new job," Aguilar said.
Vice President for Student Development Mary Adams has been at TSTC for 27 years and worked closely with Perez during that time. Adams reiterated that it was Perez's passion that will be missed by TSTC.
"He gave his heart and soul to the students and the college," Adams said.
Perez, who up until four years ago, lived on campus in the dorms with his family, is a cancer survivor and had a pacemaker installed in 2002.
Perez admitted that he's slowed down and isn't as energetic as he used to be but that his passion and love never waned.
"All you really needed to do this job is a passion and love for the students and I have that still," Perez said. "But I'm getting older and it was time to step away. I'm going to miss the students."