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HARLINGEN – When Gil Tello walked into OrthoCare a few months ago, he never expected to meet a student he hadn’t seen in years.
When Nursing Practitioner Belinda Gonzalez went to work at OrthoCare that morning at 2114 Hale Drive, she didn’t expect to see her principal from Harlingen High School.
But they did. It had been more than 30 years since Gonzalez graduated from HHS, but she recognized him instantly.
“When I saw him, I said, ‘I’m Belinda’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, yes!’” said Gonzalez, 51. “I had not made any contact with him before then. And he’s been my patient now for quite some time and I’m very honored to take care of him.”
Since Gonzalez graduated from HHS in 1990, she has accumulated training and experiences that have helped her develop into an accomplished and compassionate nurse practitioner.
She completed her certification in surgical technology from Texas State Technical College in 1991. She earned her associate degree in nursing from the University of Texas in Brownsville in 2000.
She obtained her BSN from Chamberlain College of Nursing in 2012, and three years later she received her master’s degree in nursing/family nurse practitioner. In 2017, she earned her certification as a registered nurse first surgical assistant from Houston Community College.
That’s a lot, spread out over many years.
“My choice in career paths to be a surgical tech was because it was going to be the quickest thing that I could get into that would help me gain notoriety and success,” said the married mother of two daughters.
“I just love the surgical tech setting and I’ve had nothing but a lot of great mentors along the way, and everybody just supporting me to be more and more successful,” she said.
One of those mentors was Tello, the high school principal she never forgot.
“He had quite an impact on my life in high school,” she said. “He was a good principal, nothing negative. When we did pep rallies, he would always motivate us to stay the path and to get educated. When you take those words and you strive to succeed, you remember who it was that motivated you to be successful.”
Tello was so impressed with this chance encounter with his former student that he has talked a great deal about her the past few months, highlighting the point that she came from humble beginnings and has excelled from those beginnings.
“I am extremely proud of her,” he said. “She has always been a humble and a hardworking young lady. She is an example for all of us. Hard work pays off.”
Gonzalez spoke of her beginnings with humility, pride and gratitude.
“I come from a family of seven, nine with my parents, and my parents always instilled in us the importance of a higher education,” she said. “They were migrant workers, and so you always saw the struggle that my parents had. They always insisted ‘educate yourself’ so that you don’t have to have such a tough life.”
She instills that same message to her two daughters age 16 and 19. Her oldest is pursuing a career in mechanical engineering.
It’s also the same message that motivates her to keep aiming for success; she’s now making plans to return to school, this time for her doctorate.