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Daniel Chavez: The Importance of a Good Impression

February 13, 2015

The decision to attend Angelo State has already paid off for Daniel Chavez (Class of 2013). At 23, he is the assistant vice president of economic development at the Chamber of Commerce for the nation’s seventh largest city, San Antonio.

Chavez grew up in Schertz, about 15 miles from downtown San Antonio. His father, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and ASU alumnus (Class of 1978), pointed Chavez toward ASU as a place he could get a high-quality education at an affordable cost.

“I chose Angelo State because graduating with no debt meant a lot to me,” Chavez said. “The culture of ASU was also a deciding factor. There’s a small school feel that makes it easy to make friends and excel at anything a student chooses to do.”

“The summer before I started at ASU,” he added, “I went to orientation, what was called SOAR then. When I graduated from ASU four years later, I still knew every single person who was in my SOAR group. That wouldn’t happen at a big school.”

As a freshman, Chavez started out interested in pre-med, ROTC and business, but soon locked in on political science.

“My heart belongs to political science,” he said. “Studying political science, you realize government is everywhere, whether you like it or not. And economic development is how a state or local government works, even at the federal level. Economic development is everywhere, too.”

One of his turning points at ASU was getting recruited to join the campus chapter of the Model Organization of American States (MOAS), an international program founded by the Organization of American States to promote democratic values among the youth of the Western Hemisphere. Chavez participated in the Eugene Scassa MOAS competition at Baylor University and won an award for Angelo State.

“I chose Angelo State because graduating with no debt meant a lot to me. The culture of ASU was also a deciding factor. There’s a small school feel that makes it easy to make friends and excel at anything a student chooses to do.”

Daniel Chavez

“It turned into something I was really passionate about,” he said. “MOAS is an entryway into politics at the committee level. You are trying to come up with ideas, then present them to an assembly. It was a realization. I could do this. I could come up with ideas that people liked.”

Chavez also gives a lot of credit for his successful career start to Dr. Deanna Watts, an assistant professor in the Political Science and Philosophy Department.

“She was not only instrumental in my development as a student but also in my transition from student life to professional life,” Chavez said. “Dr. Watts helped me become a better writer and communicator, and her courses allowed me to develop my own ideas that ultimately, I believe, helped me obtain my current job.”

After graduating with a B.A. in political science and a minor in business, Chavez landed a paid internship. He spent six months in the Bexar County Economic Development Leadership Program, where he was trained in how economic development is achieved in the county that is home to San Antonio and helped manage the county’s industry database.  

Connections he made during his internship led him directly to the job with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, but he also brought “soft skills” he learned while working part-time jobs to help pay for his education. He shared advice on those skills recently as a guest speaker for Watts’ political science class for freshmen and sophomores.

“If you ever get an opportunity to talk with a leader, impress them,” he said. “At first, with manners—yes sir, no ma’am‚—but once you get on a first-name basis with them, they want to be your friend, they want to help you. It is important to be able to have a conversation one-on-one, to shake a hand, look someone in the eye and say, ‘This is who I am and this is what I’m about.’ If you do, you’ll make that connection.”

At the chamber, Chavez has met many local, state and national leaders, and they have helped inspire him for his next challenge.

“I am planning to go to law school, but I’m working on ways to pay for it,” he said. “My long-term goal is to get into politics, but there’s a lot of work to do yet.”

Meanwhile, he does his best to promote his alma mater.

“I’ve sold San Antonio on ASU,” Chavez said. “I say it with confidence, resounding confidence, that I’m an ASU graduate.”