April 2021 Team Leader of the Month: Gerardo Ruiz, Johnson County Community College

Photo of Gerardo RuizFrom Kena Zumalt, Veteran & Military Student Services Program Director at JCCC: “Adapt and overcome is a Marine Corps ethos. Gerardo Ruiz, Veteran Services Assistant and Marine Corps veteran, brings that ethic to work every day. He is a part-time regular staff member and full-time student at KU who always goes the extra mile. When our full-time staff position became vacant in December, he stepped up to fill the gap in staffing in his quiet, calm, and consistent manner. He took on the extra duties of coordinating and executing virtual events for student engagement, including our PAVE peer mentoring outreach and logging in addition to his regular role as a Team Leader. He has assisted with training our new part-time School Certifying Official. He created a virtual new student packet to assist students with GI Bill orientation. He has managed communication with students through our Canvas page. He has scheduled and conducted all student veteran Zoom and in-person appointments. These are all duties that he took on in addition to his regular responsibilities. To help with office coverage, he has been working extra hours at JCCC since December while finishing up his bachelor’s in biology at KU this spring semester. Gerardo is a JCCC alum who really cares about our Veteran & Military Student Resource Center being the best that it can be. His willingness to help us adapt and overcome the hurdles of the past year is evidence that he is an invaluable team member and champion for our veteran and military affiliated students.”

From Gerardo Ruiz: “I’ve been a PAVE Team Leader for over 3 years now. PAVE has always been a big success at Johnson County Community College. We have had many success stories throughout the years since the program started. Especially in helping veteran and military-affiliated students and their transition into college life. What I’m most proud of is how we handled the COVID-19 Pandemic. We took a big hit last year in both our PAVE Advisors and PAVE students in the program. This was mainly due to the fact that everything went virtual. It became difficult to plan PAVE Advisor meetings and even interact with PAVE students. As a team we managed to adapt and overcome these new obstacles of distance learning. I think this speaks highly of our PAVE program and I am proud to be a part of it. My favorite part about being a Team Leader is watching the transition. From when a student starts in the PAVE program and then watching them become Peer Advisors and continue to provide new transitioning student with the same help and guidance that they had in order to be successful in their educational goals.”