Victor Alaniz has spent his career surrounded by gemstones and milestones.
After working for 12 years in retail jewelry sales, the Rio Grande Valley native is an enrollment specialist at the Lamar University Student Service Center. He is also a single father to his daughter, Arilynne (5).
“I enjoy the face-to-face interaction of meeting students and their support systems when they come into the Center,” he said. “It’s one thing to be able to help somebody over the phone, but it’s another to meet somebody on a personal level before you start helping them with the process of enrolling.”
Alaniz enjoyed working in retail sales, but he wanted a job with regular business hours. After a stint of more than five years as a senior admissions representative for Brightwood College, he has worked for Lamar University for a little over a year.
“I like hearing what has gotten people to the point in their life where they either want to go back to school or complete school,” he said. “They all have stories about what they have gone through and what obstacles they have faced.
“A lot of times, it’s not only about enrolling them in school — it’s about helping them be successful throughout the program.”
Much like when Alaniz worked for Cisneros Fine Jewelry and Helzberg Diamonds, he is often around people at some of the biggest moments of their lives.
“A lot of times when the customers came in, it was a happy time in their life where they’re getting engaged or celebrating anniversaries, birthdays or Mother’s Day. When I retire, I wouldn’t mind going back into jewelry retail.”
Alaniz, who grew up in Weslaco, graduated with an associate degree in business administration from South Texas College in 2008. Two years later, he completed a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UT-Pan American (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley).
“Because I have always enjoyed interaction with people, I wanted to keep my options open,” he said. “I wanted a business degree but decided to do marketing because it’s a field where you will definitely have a lot of interaction with people.”
In 2015, Alaniz enrolled in a master’s degree in accounting program. He has completed 32 credit hours, but he hopes to enroll in a general Master of Business Administration program in 2020.
“I never pictured myself going into a graduate program,” he said. “I enjoy school more now that I am a little bit older than I did when I was younger and got my bachelor’s degree.
“Now that I work in higher education, my master’s degree is something that I need to complete. I’d like to stay in higher education but maybe in a different position.”
When Alaniz helps potential Lamar University students learn about online learning, he speaks from experience. His bachelor’s degree program was a hybrid, while the master’s degree program he started was fully online.
“When potential students are concerned about doing an online program, I always share my experience with them,” he said. “When I did my bachelor’s degree, I had more of that interaction with the teacher. It was easier to ask somebody, ‘Hey, I don’t understand this,’ and get an explanation.”
While the faculty in Lamar University’s online programs are accessible to students, the format requires self-sufficiency too.
“You learn a lot more in an online program. Instead of asking someone for an answer, you look for it, research it and do whatever it takes to find the answer yourself,” Alaniz said.
Of course, the best part of his job is helping students achieve their goals by graduating from Lamar University.
“It’s fulfilling,” he said. “We usually get students who say, ‘My friend recommended me, had a good experience and said that you helped her a lot.’ That always feels good. Higher education is definitely the field for me.”
Learn more about Lamar University’s online degree programs.