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A strong second act

Through hard work and an education, this College of Humanities alumnus ignites a new career.

Ramon Jimenez Jr. is well on his way to accomplishing his second successful career. The first ended several years ago when he retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service. In the second, now 13 years along, he’s a civilian working for the Department of Defense as a software application instructor and video teleconference coordinator.

Yet he is nagged by a mistake he made and hopes to convince others not to go down the same road.

“Don’t wait to get your education,” advises Jimenez, who was 54 when he completed his Bachelor of Science in Communication with a concentration in Communication and Technology at University of Phoenix. “I didn’t want my son and grandson to do the same thing. I told them to get educated while they’re young so they can enjoy the fruits later on.”

Youthful enthusiasm 

Jimenez grew up a typical, small-town Texas boy. He loved playing sports and being outdoors with friends, riding horses, hunting and fishing near his home in Premont, south of San Antonio.

His mother was a homemaker, and his father was a laborer in the oil fields. Their values were strong. “My mom taught us respect first and said everything else will fall into place after that,” he says.

Neither of his parents completed grade school. When Jimenez graduated from high school, he didn’t think he was cut out for college, and with four siblings, he was sure his parents couldn’t afford it.

He enlisted in the Air Force right after high school, saying, “I wanted see the world and learn a skill that I could use after I retired.”

He did just that in assignments in Greece and Turkey. During his time abroad, Jimenez met as many people as he could and absorbed the history, culture and especially the cuisine of the host countries.

Laughing as he recalls his time in Athens, Jimenez says, “I left the U.S. weighing 125 pounds soaking wet and was 160 pounds when I got home. Food is my favorite sport.”

A new world

Jimenez began his Air Force career as a medical administration specialist. He became an expert at handling patient records at a time when such files were kept on paper. When the computer revolution began in the early 1980s, he was in on the ground floor.

At Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, he headed the base hospital’s computer room. Later, at Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi, a colleague who’d purchased his first Packard Bell® computer with DOS programming asked Jimenez if he wanted to learn the new technology.

Jimenez jumped at the opportunity, highlighting his adventurous spirit and ambition.

“If somebody else gets a promotion or an award, I’m happy for them,” he says. “But I also say if they can do it, I can too.”

Putting it all together

By the time he retired, Jimenez was a medical systems information manager and a self-described computer geek. Those skills helped ease the transition to his civilian job with the Department of Defense at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in 2002.

Still, something was missing.

Four years later, he understood what it was when his then-boss hired three young women with master’s degrees in Education to revamp the entire training process. He wanted desperately to be part of the change, but not having a degree held him back.

“I knew I had to get my butt off the bench and do this,” he says.

He drove to the University of Phoenix® San Antonio Campus and met with a representative about getting started. At the time, Jimenez thought of education as being for young people. At 47, he felt self-conscious, even embarrassed.

"Here I was an old guy asking for an education, and the gentleman I met with didn't pressure me or make me feel uncomfortable at all. He was a total professional and helped me a lot."
– Ramon Jimenez Jr.

Jimenez earned his associate degree in 2008 and his bachelor’s in 2013. He credits his then-girlfriend, Laura—now his wife—for her strong support.

Learning and teaching

Jimenez says he gets up every morning and thanks God for the energy he has. He still loves teaching Air Force personnel how to use Microsoft® applications and managing video teleconferences between leadership and troops around the world. He also oversees the scheduling for five classrooms and the maintenance of 90 student computers.

In his free time, Jimenez spends time with his grandchildren and stays physically fit by officiating high school football games, usually three times per week in the fall. He plans to raise horses after he retires for the second time, in another seven years. For now, though, he is enjoying the benefits of his University of Phoenix education.

“Laura and I missed a lot of date nights because I was studying into the wee hours,” Jimenez says. “But it was worth it because I have better opportunities to advance, and my opinion is heard and respected now. I’m contributing to a better training environment.”


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