Rewarding Balancing Act

Putting in 40 hours a week is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, for some City employees, the hard work does not end at five o’clock. Meet some very focused individuals who made the decision to return to school to attain a master’s degree.

“How can I expect my kids to go to college if I didn’t go?”  Municipal Court Lead Case Manager Joe Bernal said.
“I wanted to lead by example.”
He not only received his bachelor’s from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, he also continued on to get his master’s in public administration. 
Bernal was so energized by the academic experience, he is considering pursuing a doctorate degree in education. His advice to anyone considering a return to higher education is simple: “Do it and don’t look back, because it is very achievable!”

Engineering Contracts & Funds Administrator Jennifer Ramirez was inspired to go back to school because she had changed the way she viewed her work.
“I got to the point where I realized this is not just a job, it is a career,” Ramirez said.
Her realization made her want to move ahead and advance, and she felt a master’s degree would strongly complement her extensive work experience. It took her two years to get her master’s degree in public administration, and it was not without several challenges. Ramirez has three kids and says the hardest part was juggling her family’s schedule of activities with her studies.
“Once I started, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”

Human Resources Senior Analyst Odette Cruz began as a temporary employee right out of college and made a decision early on she wanted to move up the ladder.
“Getting my master’s would definitely help me do that,” Cruz said. Making time for all her commitments was her biggest challenge, but Cruz firmly believes her hard work has paid off. “Whatever opportunities arise I wanted to make sure that I had the education to complement my experience to be able to keep advancing in my career.”

The decision to return to school for her master’s degree was a difficult one for this mother of four, but with the help of her husband and plenty of determination, Auditor's Office Senior Management Assistant Sarah Arroyo got her diploma in two and a half years.
“I had to schedule time for so many things that I never had to before,” she says.
“I would tell anyone wanting to go back to school to go for it but that effective time management is the way to make it happen!”

“It was hard to get used to being in school and studying again,” Airport Operations Manager Carl Gross said. He received his undergraduate degree 29 years ago. 
“If you decide to do it, make a commitment to also learn time management.” 
Gross received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration in December of 2016.

The City of Corpus Christi offers the Employee Tuition Reimbursement Program which provides financial assistance for up to $2,000 per fiscal year, for full-time employees, for job-related degrees. For more information visit