Jess Gamez is my former supervisor and friend from Texas A&M-Commerce in Commerce, TX.  Although I didn’t always feel this way at the time, I look back on my experience in Commerce with so many fond memories. Jess plays a big role in lots of those memories!

Jess is thoughtful, caring, humble, creative, and dependable. (Also, as my friend Lelia would say, Jess GSDs – gets shit done!)

Jess Gamez, originally Jessica Bryan, grew up in a small, rural town - Blair, Nebraska. She attended Wayne State College and majored in Counseling. In college, she was an RA which inspired her to stay in higher education. She worked at a rural community college for a few years and then moved to Commerce, TX to work at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

At Texas A&M-Commerce, Jess was my supervisor in Residential Living & Learning while I was a Graduate Hall Director for several apartment communities on campus. I loved working for Jess! She treated me like a capable professional – which isn’t always the case in graduate student positions. Many of Jess’s skillsets are different than my own, so it allowed me to see other ways of doing things – and it was really good for me. Additionally, I loved how she left work every day at 5PM to pick up her kid (now kids) at the university’s Children’s Learning Center in order to make the most of every minute with them before they went to bed. Leaving on time is not something typical of Student Affairs Professionals. This was excellent, excellent role modeling! Plus, I always knew Jess cared about me and had my back.

Family is extremely important to Jess. And, she has a beautiful family! She says she is married to the love of her life, Jeremy, and they have two children, Sam and Sky.  They love to play outside, have family dance parties in the living room, and attend community events.  Jess’s commitment to her family and her role as a mom is something I admire very much. She is so intentional and thoughtful with how she raises her children. (She talks about this in her comments below!) When I reflect about the kind of mom I want to be, I think about Jess.

Jess says that making something from nothing is what gets her most excited.  Whether it is putting together a complex schedule, creating a program, or making some type of craft project, she absolutely loves to use her creativity to make things for others.  Jess is always sharing cute and thoughtful gifts with those around her - from sweet gift basket surprises to clever Valentine’s Day treats. (I observed via Facebook that one of this year’s valentines was bananas with “’I’m bananas about you!” notes attached! The cutest!)

Jess is an amazing woman. As a professional, as a mom, as a friend – Jess embodies qualities that I admire.  I am impressed by her thoughtfulness in all parts of life and openness to thinking about things in new or different ways. I am so happy Jess is in the circle of powerful women around me.  

Jess’s inspiration relates, in large part, to her beautiful children and family. She also has some lovely advice that she shares below.

 What inspires you & what do I care deeply about...

"I want my children to have happy childhoods.  I want them to be able to look back and see how hard we worked to create experiences to teach them how to love and care for others. There are a few experiences that I hope they have that I was not provided: 1) I want them to see happily married parents that are passionately in love with each other.  I want them to see Jer and I take care of each other, work as a team to accomplish our goals together, and be there for each other in the tough times.  2) I want them to be exposed to and excited about meeting different people.  I absolutely love that we live on a college campus where we are able to take the kids to cultural events several times a month.  Beyond that, I love that they get to see the deep relationships that I have been able to form with our diverse student population."

If I had one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be and why?

“I am still working on this, but I would tell myself not to take so many things personally. For the longest time, every time someone did anything that impacted my day negatively, in even the tiniest bit, I took it personally. I thought that person was out to hurt me.  I have learned that people are just people, they make mistakes, they have bad days.  If I just take a few seconds to breathe, let things go, and extend grace, my relationships with others are significantly better.”

“I have changed in a lot of ways over the years, but my faith is what has changed the most.  I used to be a very legalistic Christian.  For so many years, it made me feel like I had some type of control and power over people and situations.  As I have matured and learned more about Jesus, I have learned that forgiveness, love, grace, generosity, acceptance and inclusion is really what Christianity is about.”

 “Also, listen to your inner voice. 99% of the time it will lead you towards a decision that aligns with your values, goals, and passions. Your inner voice will tell you when a person is good in your life. It will tell you when to hold on tight during the hard times and when to walk away and not look back. Now, of course there is that 1% of the time that I look back and think, "what the hell was I thinking".”

This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!