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Dallas College Busted Barriers for This Alum

There isn’t an easy place to start when it comes to telling Jaime Resendez’s story.

This is a man who grew up in an economically disadvantaged household in Southeast Dallas. His parents knew hard work, and instilled that, but weren’t given many lucrative opportunities having immigrated from Mexico with elementary-level educations. This is a man who enlisted in the Army while in high school. He joined in 2000, and then witnessed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the following year while taking classes at Dallas College’s Eastfield Campus. The 9/11 attacks eventually led him to a year-long tour of duty in Baghdad, Iraq.

Resendez’s upbringing and military service are essential parts of his story, of course. But, as he reflected back, he fondly recalled his days as a student at Dallas College as laying the foundation for his future success. Resendez found encouragement and positivity every time he stepped on the Eastfield Campus. It led him on a path toward earning an associate degree, then a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas at Dallas and a law degree from the University of Texas. He now runs his own law firm and has served as the District 5 Council Member on Dallas’ City Council since 2019.

“Dallas College has ended up shaping my life in a significant way,” Resendez said. “Going to class on the Eastfield Campus really empowered me to have the confidence that I could succeed in college.”

Words of Encouragement

Resendez had two stints at Dallas College.

The first came shortly after he graduated from Dallas Skyline and joined the Army as a reservist. Outside of his Army duties, he was working at UPS and taking classes at the Eastfield Campus. UPS had a tuition reimbursement program at the time.

However, Resendez found himself on a trajectory to becoming a supervisor at UPS and didn’t think he’d need a college degree to achieve that. So, he considered dropping out when one of his professors, the late Robert Sharp, pulled him to the side.

“Professor Sharp told me, ‘You have potential. Please stay in your classes,’” Resendez said.

What was the reaction?

“I still dropped my classes,” Resendez said, shaking his head. “But I always remembered that because he saw something in me. I bet there are a lot of students in the same position who come from a working-class background, and we may not truly realize the value of our education because we see what seems to be a solid opportunity in front of us. I always appreciated Professor Sharp saying that and remembered it because he didn’t have to say anything to me.

“He could have just let me drop my classes and moved on, but his words show how much he cared about his students.”

Even though Resendez didn’t follow Professor Sharp’s advice at the time, the professor’s words resonated and planted a seed that was later nurtured.

Realities of War

A few months after dropping his classes, Resendez found himself at Fort Hood, preparing for his deployment.

“Honestly, I was in denial the whole time, like, ‘They’re not going to send reservists over there, c’mon,’” he said. “But I went to Iraq in 2003 and it was a life-altering experience obviously. I tell people, I wasn’t handing out water. We were on convoys, combat missions in Baghdad. People handle things differently and I just remember, when we crossed into Iraq, all fear left me. It just ended up happening that way.”

Being in the heart of a war completely changed Resendez’s perspective on life. He was on the same streets on the same day that other soldiers lost their lives. It’s hard to put that reality into words.

When Resendez returned, he re-enrolled at Dallas College and heeded Professor Sharp’s message. Resendez, without question, reached his full potential from an educational standpoint.

As Resendez said, “I come back from war and I’m taking notes and reading a book in an air-conditioned classroom. Like, this is easy compared to what I was just doing over there. I can do this.”

Busting Barriers

Knowing how impactful obtaining an education has been for his life, Resendez is driven to make it as accessible as possible for everyone. Prior to being elected to the city council, Resendez served on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees.

Among his accomplishments was being the driving force behind the creation of the dual language School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove and successfully advocating for a new $30 million school building for Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School in Southeast Dallas.

Now, as a city council member, Resendez remains committed to ensuring those who need it have access to resources, including for educational opportunities. He hasn’t forgotten his community college roots, either.

“I’m very proud to have gone to a community college,” he said. “Some people want to act like there’s a stigma attached to it. To me, I see it the opposite way. I take so much pride in my experience at Dallas College because I know there were a lot of brilliant kids there with me. It forms me to this day.”

Final Message

Asked what his message to today’s students would be, Resendez pointed to a picture hanging in his office. It’s a take on the Myth of Sisyphus, showing a man pushing a boulder uphill, a seemingly never-ending battle that everyone faces in some fashion.

“Despite the difficulties that we deal with on a daily basis, just keep on pushing,” he said. “Protect your GPA, make sure you’re reading your assignments, and just be relentless about your schoolwork. That’s how you keep as many doors open as possible. So, just keep on pushing.”

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Published inWhy Dallas College?