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A&M-San Antonio’s new VP of Student Affairs brings 20 years of experience, passion for Hispanic Serving Institutions

A&M-San Antonio’s new VP of Student Affairs brings 20 years of experience, passion for Hispanic Serving Institutions - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Dr. Juan R. Guardia will join Texas A&M University-San Antonio as the new Vice President of Student Affairs in July. Photo courtesy of A&M-San Antonio

Texas A&M University-San Antonio will welcome its new Vice President of Student Affairs this summer, appointing Dr. Juan R. Guardia as its head of office on July 15.

After reading the description for the open position at A&M-San Antonio, Guardia said he was “absolutely invested.”

Guardia said because of the university’s largely Hispanic community, the environment at A&M-San Antonio reminded him of his home community of Homestead, Florida, where Guardia is originally from, and the days when he attended Miami Dade College.

“The makeup of [A&M-San Antonio], the students that it serves and the purpose to make sure that it is not only an HSI but a military engagement institution really spoke volumes to me,” Guardia said.

In high school, Guardia was involved in a variety of clubs and organizations such as TV News class, yearbook. Guardia said being an involved student led him to working in higher education.

“I think that blends very nicely to the work that I’ve done over the last 25 years,” Guardia said. “What I want to see is my students be involved in their college experience and how that benefits their inside classroom experience with some of their outside classroom experience regardless of extra curricular involvement and so forth.”

Those who have worked with Guardia in the past describe him as fun and energetic.

“He will definitely bring a collaborative spirit that is student-centered and student-focused [and] centered on developing humans, whether they be students, staff, faculty — he’s a developmental person…” said Dr. Mónica Lee Miranda, Assistant Vice President in the Office of University Community Partnerships at the University of South Florida and a close friend of Guardia.

Miranda also said that Guardia is always trying to find ways to help others be their best selves, and he will bring his energetic nature to A&M-San Antonio.

Miranda added that Guardia has been an easy person to work with, recalling an experience when she and Guardia worked on a consulting project together a few summers ago.

“It was so easy to work with him on that and it was the first time we had ever done consulting together in that frame…” Miranda said. “We’ve always been able to do work together in such an easy way, he’s super easy to work with — we’re both people who like to lean on each other’s strengths and the strengths of our staff…”

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in media performance and a minor in English from Florida State University in 1997, Guardia worked as a school teacher at Campbell Drive Middle School in his hometown in Florida.

Guardia went back to Florida State University in 1999 to obtain his master’s degree in higher education administration and student affairs; he graduated in 2001.

Guardia’s first job in higher education was at George Mason University in Northern Virginia where he served as Assistant Director of the Diversity Programs Office for the Hispanic and Latino Student Affairs. Guardia worked with Hispanic and Latino students on campus and provided assistance and support with different programs and resources.

“I loved it, I absolutely loved it,” he said about the position.

Guardia then made it his career goal to be a vice president for student affairs one day. That’s when he was encouraged to get his PhD by Dr. Larry H. Ebbers, a professor at Iowa State University.

“He said ‘If your end goal is to be a vice president for student affairs, you’re going to need a PhD or a terminal degree,’” Guardia explained. “And so he said ‘You might want to consider my institution’ and so he mailed me the application materials.”

While pursuing his PhD, Guardia chose to do his dissertation on the development of the ethnic identity of Latino fraternity members at a hispanic-serving institution in South Florida. His research explored whether being a member in a Latino fraternity enhanced their ethnic identity, if it empowered the students and if the HSI also empowered their identity as a Latino-identified individual.

Guardia’s research showed that members did feel empowered. Being in a Latino fraternity and attending an HSI also enhanced their ethnic identity development, according to his research.

The dissertation granted Guardia his PhD from Iowa State University in 2006.

In his professional life, Guardia has helped many people, like Keith D. Garcia, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at North Western University and now a close friend of Guardia.

“He supported me when I was going to apply for graduate school…” Garcia said. “He served as a recommender for me to the programs I applied to, he reviewed my materials.”

Garcia said that even during the holidays Guardia would make time to help Garcia with worries he had when he was applying to graduate school.

“I’m originally from New York City, and I ended up going to graduate school in Nebraska and I had a lot of trepidations about applying to schools and programs in places far away from home,” Garcia said. “He helped to kind of talk me through that process…”

Guardia says he’s excited to be at A&M-San Antonio and “fell in love” with the campus.

“The opportunity for growth, the opportunity to get students involved in a variety of facets across campus is where I’m coming into this position…” Guardia said. “And to come in and be an advocate and a representative for the division of student affairs and help students find their ways to extra curricular activities outside of the classroom that are tied in as part of their student success and to help pertain them in any way possible so that they can earn their degree as they go out into the world of work.”

Guardia has over 20 years of experience working in student affairs.

About the Author

Victoria Arredondo
Assistant Editor
Victoria Arredondo is a senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio majoring in English and communications and minoring in psychology. Victoria received her associate degree from Palo Alto College along with her high school diploma in 2018 from Frank L. Madla Early College High School. In her downtime, Victoria enjoys reading, writing poetry and short stories, watching horror movies and spending time with friends. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in journalism.

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