Alexander Gonzalez was just 10 years old when the Great Recession of 2008 shuttered his family’s coffee shop in Orlando, FL. The small business had marked the attainment of the American dream for his mother and father, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic and Cuba, respectively, in search of a better life. Experiencing the thin and fragile line between fortune and hardship, Gonzalez vowed to pursue a career that would provide financial security.
“Even at that young age, and although my parents opened another restaurant that became a success, I knew that I never wanted to be in a situation where my wealth and livelihood could be taken away,” he says. “The law always interested me, and I saw it as a path to the stability I craved.” Gonzalez, who was active in high school performing arts, also looked forward to engaging his passion for the theater as a lawyer.
With his sights set on a career in the entertainment industry, when it came time to apply to law school, Gonzalez chose St. John’s for its deep New York City roots and welcoming community. “My mother told me, ‘find your people,’ and I’ve done that very quickly here,” he shares. As he’s immersed himself in his studies, Gonzalez has found connection and camaraderie as a member of the Women’s Law Society and the OUTLaws and Allies student group. “It’s a blessing to have such easy access to upper-level students who offer me friendship and mentoring,” he says.
Gonzalez has also found a mentor in Vernadette Horne, the Law School’s Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “I connected with Dean Horne early on,” he says. “Her door is always open, and she provides great support and reassurance as I navigate my 1L experience.” Dean Horne nominated Gonzalez to serve on the Dean’s Advisory Council, a group of students who meet with Dean Michael A. Simons regularly to discuss diversity and inclusion at the Law School.
Reflecting on this student-administration partnership, Gonzalez says: “Dean Simons is asking us for honest input. He’s opening the floor to us so we can share our experiences as diverse students. I appreciate his commitment to changing the Law School’s culture, and I look forward to participating on the Council and supporting its important work through the years.”
With equal enthusiasm, Gonzalez looks forward to using his St. John’s law degree to effect change in the entertainment industry. “I want to bring greater representation to an industry that isn’t known for being representative traditionally. My dream job is to work as general counsel in a production studio, so I can influence casting and staffing decisions and promote inclusion and equity. But, more than anything else, I look forward to helping people in ways they can’t see for themselves. I’ve seen how people can make a difference in our lives, and being able to do that for others seems like a real gift.”