loader image
- Advertisement -

Saturday, April 20, 2024
83.7 F
McAllen
- Advertisement -

STC Presents Widow And Family With Husband, Dad’s Bachelor’s Degree

Translate text to Spanish or other 102 languages!

- Advertisement -
Gilbert Ortiz was three classes shy of graduating from South Texas College with his bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technologies when he lost his battle to cancer, but Saturday, his family will get to realize his dream when they are presented with his posthumous degree during STC’s 9 a.m. Commencement Ceremony. STC Image
Gilbert Ortiz was three classes shy of graduating from South Texas College with his bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technologies when he lost his battle to cancer, but Saturday, his family will get to realize his dream when they are presented with his posthumous degree during STC’s 9 a.m. Commencement Ceremony. STC Image
- Advertisement -

By Amanda Sotelo

Gilbert Ortiz was three classes shy of graduating from South Texas College with his bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technologies when he lost his battle to cancer, but Saturday, his family will get to realize his dream when they are presented with his posthumous degree during STC’s 9 a.m. Commencement Ceremony.

It was Ortiz’s dream to walk the graduation stage at the Bert Ogden Arena with his cap and gown with his family in the stands, and it was one he wouldn’t give up on, even in his last hours.  

- Advertisement -

“He apologized multiple times on his deathbed because he wouldn’t be able to graduate with his degree, like he had promised,” said his wife Dorothy Ortiz. “We ensured him we were proud of him no matter what. He worked so hard; he was so dedicated to his education. He was proud to be the first in his family to pursue a four-year degree. It broke our hearts to know this was his biggest regret and that he hadn’t been able to realize his dream, until STC made it possible.”

Ortiz began showing concerning symptoms in June and soon after, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, that spread to areas including his intestines and lymph nodes. After surgeries and chemotherapy, some of his tumors shrank, but it was internal bleeding that led to his death, Dorothy said. 

“Throughout his treatments he was determined to keep going to school and his instructors at STC were so understanding and helpful, but he had a long journey ahead of him and ultimately had to drop his classes,” said Dorothy. “He had even registered for this fall already, that’s how much this meant to him. So, for STC to give us this opportunity, to see his goals through, that means the world to us.”

It was 2020, during a global pandemic, when Ortiz decided to return to school to help his son Ozzie Ortiz who was finding online coursed challenging. At the same time, Ortiz had the chance to upskill to seek new opportunities with the city of McAllen where he worked as a system analyst for 14 years. 

- Advertisement -

“My Gilbert, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his family and friends. He was so smart, so loving and had big dreams,” said Dorothy. “It was his smarts that first impressed me when I met him.” 

In fact, the couple met at STC in 1999 in a networking class, both graduating with Networking Specialist degrees in 2000.

“We were Y2K, year 2000, graduates and we were inseparable,” she said. “I was struggling in class, and he was my tutor. I was bold and made the first move telling him he had to sit next to me in class. As they say, the rest was history.” 

The couple married in 2002 and had two sons Julian and Ozzie Ortiz, who are also STC alumni. The couple were also the first in their families to pursue a higher education and they held the same dream for their sons, which is why, after 20 years, Ortiz decided to return to college. 

“Not having a bachelor’s degree held him back from a lot of opportunities, but he really did this to show his sons that nothing was impossible,” said Ortiz. “He was also a very talented man, I’m not sure he ever realized it. His presence could give you peace and his sense of humor was contagious. We miss him so much; we were blessed to have had him in our lives.”

In addition to his educational journey, Ortiz also rode motorcycles, did stand-up comedy, was a drummer and guitarist, did community theatre and wrestled under the name of “Gil the Rebel Stryker. 

His wife said his life saying was “It’s going to be fine,” and he was guided by that motto even after his diagnosis. 

“He asked us for permission to die…he said he was so tired and sick, naturally we told him it was okay to let go even though it was hard for us to let go of him,” said Dorothy. “But as he always said, ‘It’s going to be fine.’ I believe it will be, but when I find myself waking up at 3 a.m. nearly every night because this is one big nightmare, I long for his reassuring words and hugs.” 

On Saturday, when Ortiz’s son Ozzie receives his father’s degree, he said he knows his father will be right there with him, looking down on his special day. 

“I wish it was my dad walking across that stage, but I know this is something he would have wanted,” said Ozzie. “Going to school together was bizarre at times, but now I’m glad we got to share this moment. I hope he knows he had nothing to apologize for. I’m so proud of him and we’ll definitely be celebrating together.”

Like they did for Thanksgiving, Ortiz’s wife and sons will place his urn on his empty spot of the dining table, along with his degree, so they can celebrate as a family.

“STC has given us the biggest blessing,” said Ozzie. 

Dorothy agrees, “This is his last gift to us.” 

See related story:

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest News

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -