By Bianca Branham
Dr. Juan Mejia sat on is amber, leather love seat in his office on the third floor of the White Administration building. His keepsake, black Pandora bracelet dangled around his wrist just below the cuff of his well tailored suit. Dr. Mejia’s new office littered with unpacked boxes and several framed degrees smelled of new beginnings. Dr. Juan Mejia was announced Tyler Junior College’s new Provost and Vice President of academic and student affairs in 2014. He has been at TJC since October of 2013as the vice president of student affairs. With this change in position, Mejia has plans to increase student involvement, and launch TJC further into community activism.
“My vision is for TJC to be the number one institution in the country,” said Mejia, “we have the right faculty and the right students and administrators.”
In an article written by Elise Mullinix, Dr. Metke, President of TJC, says that he appreciates Dr. Mejia’s positive energy and the work that he did founding South Texas College in McAllen. He believes Mejia will assist in taking TJC to the next level and expose the true potential of the school.
When Dr. Mejia first arrived he did something no other administrator had done, he lived in the student dorms for four months.
I accepted this job in August of 2013 and I didn’t want to rent an apartment, I didn’t want it to look like I was only here temporarily. I wanted to buy a house. I wanted to immerse into the college, immerse into the students, live with them and learn about them. [While staying in the dorms] If I was awake at 3 a.m., I would walk around campus. Since campus security was under me, I saw how they operate and the safety procedures. It was cool to hear the band and the drums roll in the morning and see the Apache Belles out practicing.
Dr. Mejia believes in the value of education, however redundant and over used that statement is; he holds higher education in great esteem.
“I see education as an equalizer, through education, minds are expanded and allows you to play on an even field,” said Mejia.
According to Dr. Metke, Mejia has become involved in the Tyler community and serves on several boards in this town. He is also in correspondence with the University of Texas at Tyler in the Patriot Pathway, pertaining to degree attainment and credit transfer. He is a member of the Literacy Council board, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and also the Collective Impact organization.
Mejia’s philosophy for taking TJC to the next level is “Making sure we have the right people in the right places to do the best job.”
Changing staff can be difficult for the function of an institution, but with time and adjustment, things will begin to change. Dr. Mejia’s main focus is the well being and success of the students of TJC. He has five tips for students on being successful at TJC.
1. Have a mission of who you want to be
2. Be ethical
3. Feel empowered
4. Your life should leave a legacy
The diversity of TJC attracted Mejia so much that he took a job here in 2013. Coming from a 90 percent Hispanic college, the diverse nature, amenities, social and athletic clubs all played into his decision to move to East Texas and become part of the TJC community.
“I love the Hispanic students, but I saw a broad diversity here, it helped me grow. I love how colorful this institution is,” said Mejia.
Growing up Mejia’s parents influenced him to do something to give back. Mejia says, his parents told him to choose a field that he can help people in. Teaching, being an administrator and being involved with students is something Mejia is passionate about. He wishes to assist with the continuation of the success of TJC students.