Student Success Stories - Luis Perez
Luis Perez of Glassboro, N.J. graduated from Salem Community College’s air conditioning and refrigeration program in 1974 and from Glassboro State (now Rowan University) in 1979. He earned his two degrees while working full-time during the day and attending night classes for 10 years.
While taking courses at SCC, he worked as a maintenance machinist at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Mr. Perez retired from the federal government in 1994 after more than 29 years of service, including four in the U.S. Air Force. In 2013, he visited Salem Community College for the first time since graduation.
What inspired you to attend college?
In the federal government high-paying jobs require a college degree, just to get a foot in the door. After graduating from Salem, within the first year I was promoted to a white-collar job.
What are your fondest memories at SCC?
My fun memories were the professors. Everyone inspired me to continue and to reach for higher goals; they also were excellent role models.
What positions did you hold in federal government? Please describe the kinds of responsibilities you had.
My highest position in the federal government was a program manager for the Hispanic program. I rendered decisions on Equal Employment Opportunity complaints.
I got to know just about every Hispanic organization in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey and the Hispanic engineer's association in the U.S. Those organizations were a great help in getting qualified applicants. They also helped out with job fairs and events promoting employment in the federal government.
What advice do you offer to people entering the job market after college graduation?
My advice to anyone who wants to get ahead is to continue learning. Life is a learning experience and we find out that there are many things we need to learn in order to make good decisions and help enjoy life to the fullest. Also, pass this knowledge and advice to your children and grandchildren. Whatever position you hold, be the best you can be and do more than is asked of you. Sooner or later, you will be recognized.
What were your impressions of SCC during your first visit in 39 years?
Even though I attended Salem to learn a trade, being there changed my whole life and inspired me to continue to get more education. By attending college, I became a good role model for my family. Thanks to them and their patience, they helped me get through.