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Jewish studies grad perfects the art of balance

Ruben Gonzalez headshot

A game of pickup basketball at the local park altered Ruben Gonzales's path in life.

April 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Ruben Gonzales is soon to graduate with a Jewish studies degree and minors in philosophy and Arabic studies from ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. Throughout his time at ASU, Gonzales utilized a strategic balancing act as he worked and cared for his wife and two kids. 

The key to balancing all of his duties in partnership with his wife, who also works full-time and is a student? Communication.

“The roles I have are simple,” Gonzales said. “Living them in life is incredibly complicated. The best part of this challenge has been learning how to organize, schedule and develop as a person with a partner who is 100 percent supportive. My life is never dull, and between my beautiful wife and my outrageously intelligent children, my life is always full of fun and laughter.”

Gonzales answered a few questions about his time at ASU and what he has in mind for his future.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My “aha” moment came when one day I was playing pickup basketball at the local park and was pushed in the back and my knee was damaged so much I needed to think about my future in construction. After several months of rehab, I began a severe venture of establishing a new path for my life. A life of using my mind and languages skill to provide for my family.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: The most exciting thing I learned at ASU is how to develop the significant communication tools: reading, writing, speaking and listening. My daily mantra was to improve on one of those skills each day.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the direction I felt that the program was headed. When I visited the campus, I felt at peace that this is where I needed to be for the next three years.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Surprise yourself, put the time in, do every assignment (even extra credit), go to every class, visit the professors during office hours, ask for help, ask for advice, engage the other students, use your advisers’ knowledge, meet your director, find people that will critique you, challenge you and most of all, make this experience worth the time and money. Last, be thankful to all who support you and grateful to those who do not support you, use their energy as fuel for your drive.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot is going to the top of the Coor building and eating a Chuckbox burger and fries or grabbing Chop Shop juice and sitting in the sun and taking in the view.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I expect to continue my academic journey in a field which my skills apply. My goals are to earn a PhD in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and complete law school.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Money does not solve problems. I would say that $40 million could be a tool in developing community land to create urban farms that are sustainable. Creating affordable organic produce while using a sustaining method for water and developing a community that is dependent on fresh food. Every step in the right direction breeds leadership, and I think that urban farms hold the key to substantial health for our next generation.

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