PGS Student Achieves Dream in Graduating

05-04-2018


by Ellie Walburg (B.S. ’17)

Whether starting a new business or pursuing your education, you need support from others around you.

That's something Saul Gamboa (B.S. ’18) knows quite well.

By graduating on May 5, 2018, from Cornerstone University's Professional & Graduate Studies division, Gamboa, age 55, is the first in his family to receive a college education.

But this accomplishment is not solely based on his own personal motivations. The dream his grandparents had for him and his love for his own kids helped him to persevere and earn his Bachelor of Science in Management degree.

Gamboa was raised by his grandparents who had a passion to see him succeed in life with an education. His grandmother even taught him to read by encouraging him to read verses from a Spanish/English Bible every morning before school.

His grandfather also wanted to see him chase after an education. "My grandfather didn't have an education," Gamboa said. "He told me that education was very important."

That passion to see others succeed is something he passed on to his own kids. "When I got married and had children, I was more concerned about having my children receive an education," he said. "That's the same thing as what my grandparents would say."

Education was always in the back of his mind. But before getting to earn his own degree, Gamboa spent almost 23 years in the military. Through his involvement in leadership, he developed a passion for management.

"In the Air Force, I became a supervisor of the refrigeration and air conditioning section. I just love working with people," he said. "And I realized I had a gift for dealing with people."

Following his time in the military, he gained experience in job opportunities in coaching and in human resources, which fed his love for helping and working with people.

After taking a few classes at a couple of other schools, he realized he needed to pursue a program that would equip him to follow his passions for management and entrepreneurship in an encouraging, Christ-centered environment.

"With a business management degree, you can go and apply it anywhere and still work with people," Gamboa said.

His classes at PGS provided him the experience and knowledge to be better equipped in entrepreneurship to help his wife in her jewelry business. It also provided insight into the steps he needed to take to start his own boat touring and deep sea fishing business in Florida.

Despite his commitment to earning a degree and fulfilling his goals, he was nervous at first to return to the classroom after so many years. However, Gamboa was comforted in being surrounded by many classmates who were in the same situation as he was. He also relied on the encouragement of his family to excel in the program.

As he pursued his education, he prayed the same prayer for himself that he prayed for his children as he dropped them off at school: "Lord, give me the knowledge and understanding on the subject that my instructor is teaching me."

And now, his dream of earning a bachelor's degree has come true.

"How do I feel that I've accomplished this huge goal? I'm still pinching myself," Gamboa said. "I can't believe it; it's like a dream. I'm the first one in my family with a college education."

And the timing of his graduation comes in the context of being reunited with his father after living most of his life without knowing who he was.

Gamboa had always been curious of who his dad was, where he was and if he would ever want to meet. In 2010, during a trip to Mexico, he asked his cousins where his father lived. And after days of searching, Gamboa and his father were reunited.

In the years since their reunion, they have been in constant communication in rekindling their father-son relationship. And after experiencing challenges, his father is even miraculously able to make it to his son's graduation ceremony on May 5, 2018.

"Even though he didn't raise me—we met when I was 48 years old—he has told me how proud he is of me," Gamboa said. "And he told me he would not miss my graduation."

For Gamboa, graduation is certainly an exciting personal accomplishment that gives him the next step toward pursuing his business dreams. As he anticipates walking across the stage, diploma in hand, in front of his father, wife and children, this momentous milestone is the culmination of support from his family and his dedication to never giving up.

Cornerstone University is a Christ-centered university with a passion for global influence through the transforming power of the gospel. As an interdenominational institution located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cornerstone offers traditional undergraduate programs as well as adult undergraduate and graduate programs through the Professional & Graduate Studies division, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Asia Biblical Theological Seminary.