By Sara Reyna
Daniel Montez, South Texas College Mid-Valley Campus Administrator, was recognized as Man of the Year for his commitment and dedication to community service and leadership by the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce at their Annual Awards Night.
Montez said that being honored in this way is validation that his 10 years of service to the community was always the right thing to do.
“Being awarded as Man of the Year validates years of service to the community through various roles I’ve been in. I always tried to stay the course of doing the right thing when taking on these positions that impact the community,” Montez said. “I hoped that I was doing the right thing and making the right choices in collaborating with others for the betterment of our wonderful community. This recognition proves that I am accomplishing that.”
In his pursuit of giving back to his community, he has worked in higher education, both in and out of the classroom for over 30 years, while staying connected to his children’s education by participating in the PTA as president and as a school tutor, traits that his parents instilled in him.
Montez, born and raised in rural Harlingen, grew up in a hardworking farming family as a young child, always assisting his parents with work until he graduated from Rio Hondo High School and went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He furthered his studies at the University of Texas Brownsville and graduated with his master’s degree in Business Administration.
“From a young age my parents instilled in me this sense of giving back to the community through various ways of volunteering. I used to watch them work long hours on the farm, but they would still find the time to be involved in my education, volunteer at the church and food pantries. They really inspired me to remain involved in my community, so I joined my children’s school PTA program and became a PTA member and eventually the president,” Montez said. “I am a firm believer that we have to give of ourselves to others, especially when in these leadership positions. It is more than just a job, we should look at these opportunities as a net you can cast, the further you throw out your net, the more resources and more people you can involve when trying to improve the community.”
Montez has continued to play pivotal roles as a community leader with the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce for over eight years. He began working with the Chamber of Commerce as a member participating in a neighborhood beautification program back in 2016. Shortly after, he served as a board member for several years until 2021-2022 when he became the Chair for the Chamber Board with his term ending last year.
Today, he continues to serve as a dedicated Weslaco Area Chamber ambassador regularly participating in community ribbon cuttings, supporting local small businesses and fundraising events. He has also served as board of director president for the Weslaco Museum.
His community outreach efforts have closely intertwined with his role at STC, as it is hard to separate the two because they have similar missions and serve the same community members, Montez explains.
“You can’t separate STC from the community because we closely share this space. Considering this, we need to make our presence known with community members. We need to do our part in uplifting and helping serve our fellow community members by providing them with education, training and assistance to improve the community,” Montez shared. “We need to maintain that presence at the table when it comes to discussing those things, to promote how we can utilize STC as an accessible resource to others. This is why we continuously host events that will directly benefit the community at large because STC Mid-Valley is a citizen of Weslaco, we are committed to doing our part so that we can collectively make this a beautiful place to live and thrive.”
Barbara Garza, President and CEO of the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce, expressed gratitude to Montez for his dedication to their mission of providing fierce leadership to enhance the quality of life within their community, naming him “Man of the Year.”
“Mr. Montez has been extremely involved with the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce and with the city. He has done so much work for us as a fearless leader through his work as an ambassador and as STC Mid-Valley Campus Administrator, he is a true example for students to see and lead by,” Graza said. “We call him our fearless volunteer because he has no fear of leading the way and encourages so many people to do more and do better, we are so proud of Mr. Montez and this recognition was well earned.”
STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., shared a similar sentiment on behalf of South Texas College.
“Daniel Montez has demonstrated his commitment to our STC community and the Rio Grande Valley for many years. It has been an honor to have him at the Mid-Valley campus helping us in our mission of providing an accessible and affordable education, making a tremendous difference in enhancing the lives of so many community members. We are happy to celebrate Daniel Montez’ well-deserved recognition as “Man of the Year” and send him warm congratulations on behalf of the STC Administration and Board of Trustees.”