By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
In a sleeping bag, under the Virginia night sky, with the temperature at 13 degrees, Earl Alexander made up his mind he needed to go to college. His role in the sleeping bag was honorable, as he was in training with the US Army at Fort Lee, but it was not the life he wanted for his forever adult journey.
Alexander is well known in the region, first as a football player. Most of his childhood was in Brazoria County where he played football, till tenth grade when he moved to La Marque where he played as an S-back for the Cougars. “We did the run and shoot offense, a maneuver that’s old and not used anymore,” Alexander explained.
Being a Texan and a football aficionado, one would think one of the Texas teams would be his favorite, but he is a Philadelphia Eagles fan. “My cousin played for the Eagles and when they came to Houston, he got me a ticket,” shared Alexander. That was in 1978 when Alexander was a young child. He was hooked for life on the Philadelphia Eagles.
After graduating in 1990 from La Marque High School he was attracted to the military. “The recruiter told my mom and I we weren’t at war, but then things changed right after I signed on,” shared Alexander.
If you know history, you know that war he didn’t know was on the horizon was Desert Storm, the first Gulf War. In the end, Alexander never left the United States. In fact, by the time he finished his training, the war was over, and his services were not as high in demand.
He was able to move into the Texas National Guard and moved back to Texas.
While serving in the Guard, he enrolled at College of the Mainland. As a student, he jumped into many volunteer roles and was named student of the year for his generosity of time, spirit, and academic pursuits.
His attendance at COM isn’t just noted in transcripts or awards. Alexander is immortalized with a photo in the 1993-1994 student handbook standing right next to a retaining wall near a younger oak tree. He passes that same oak tree and the concrete wall almost every day in his position at COM.
Finishing his course work at COM, he transferred to U of H where he majored in marketing and minored in radio and television.
His first career role was working as an accountant for Foley’s Department Store in downtown Houston. “We were spoiled working at the corporate level,” said Alexander as remembers the glory days of being wined, dined and ease of access to some of the latest fashion trends.
Once again, his life was changed by a historic move (Foley’s was bought by Macy’s) and he was part of the team of people who lost their positions. “I got a good buyout and took a year to travel and relax,” shared Alexander.
Alexander has continued with his generous spirit of volunteerism and has served as a Texas City Commissioner. In 2008 he became a member of the staff at COM.
College is a value that Alexander embraces with a passion. He shares his enthusiasm with potential students in his role as a college connections advisor. He knows firsthand just how valuable it is to go to college and with his charismatic personality along with his accounting background, he is on hand to inspire students and help them get their Federal Student Financial Aid forms filed.
“The rewards here are more than what I got in a corporate setting, here I get to change lives,” Alexander proclaimed. He provides guidance and encouragement to individuals who come from many walks of life. His day includes working on high school campuses and working in the new Doyle Administration Building at COM.
His work is a key part of young students’ lives. “He was my sister’s adviser and then he guided me through the college application process and to getting a job on campus,” said Emily Vicente, who is a pre-nursing student.
Though college is his passion, he understands that many young people are afraid of the word “college,” and don’t believe they could ever go. He takes the time to break through their preconceived anxieties and help them realize that college is for everyone, and they too can change their lives through a college program.
As a community college, COM has multiple options for students who plan to work in a trade. Alexander’s role is to show them the path to reaching their personal goals and keep the community in community college.
For Alexander, living in the Gulf Coast of Texas and assisting young people is an enjoyable life, one that allows him the satisfaction of knowing he is making a difference. The community knows him and appreciates the work he does. Wherever he moves on the campus, people greet him by name and with pride.