Education is the key to a successful future" and "Be cool, stay in school" are only two of the many phrases that have been used to convince children to strive for an education. Although the "Stay in School" campaign is everywhere and well advertised, not everyone feels they need to pay attention. Some believe that they can have many jobs even though they do not get a proper education. Perhaps one can, but at what price? Education, without a doubt, makes things easier for a person who pursues a career. This week we are pleased to introduce a young man who has had extensive education, both locally and abroad - Mr. Alberto Villanueva Jr.
Alberto was born in Caye Caulker, "La Isla Cariñosa" on August 24th 1977 to Elvira Chan and Alberto Villanueva Sr. His childhood days, Alberto says, are remembered with fondness and were enhanced by the birth of his sister, Seleny. From a young age, Alberto displayed great leadership and academic skills. He attended Caye Caulker Roman Catholic School and by the age of eleven moved to Belize City to pursue his secondary education. In 1993, he graduated from St. John's College High School and then completed St. John's College/Junior College receiving an Associate's Degree in Business Administration in 1995. Mr. Villanueva subsequently received a Bachelor's Degree from the University College of Belize; a two-year course that he mastered in one year and seven months. Alberto was also the recipient of the International Student Scholarship granted by the Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. After two years in the US, he received his Master's Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Management.
That same year, 1999, he moved to Paris, France joining a study-abroad program in which he was one of two international students accepted of the 100 selected applicants. Alberto was also selected as the only student from Latin America who joined FIAP Jeanne Monet, where he studied French and conducted an International Management seminar. During his four months in Paris, Mr. Villanueva was able to enjoy some of the country's points of interest such as the Arch de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. He also visited Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and Belgium. Having seen this part of the world and having gained much experience in his field of study, Alberto was ready to return home.
Just a week after being in Belize, Alberto was hired as a business lecturer at the University of Belize, a position he held for one and a half years. Near the end of 2000, Mr. Villanueva saw an ad in the San Pedro Sun advertising the position of Town Administrator for San Pedro Town. He immediately applied, was hired and commenced work on January 2nd, 2001. Alberto stated, "I saw this opportunity as being one step closer to home, Caye Caulker. I felt that I had given my services to education and that I was ready to serve and work closely with the people of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Through this job, I am able to learn and accomplish much for both islands with the support and backing of key individuals from both Councils."
As Town Administrator, Mr. Villanueva is accountable directly to the Mayor, Town Councilors and the people of San Pedro for all aspects of the job concerning finances and human resources. Mr. Villanueva told the San Pedro Sun, "I am presently working on internal structures of the San Pedro Town Council, revising job descriptions, reshuffling portfolios, updating record management, especially personnel management and trying to find better methods of assisting the public. The best example of this is by providing a computerized system for fast payment transactions of property taxes, liquor and trade licenses, etc. We are hoping that by the end of July this will be completed." Another of his projects is the present research he is doing to try to obtain more financial support from Central Government.
In Caye Caulker, Alberto Villanueva Jr. was recently elected as a Village Councilor, receiving the highest number of votes cast for a councilor. He is also actively involved in the designing of Caye Caulker's municipal financial system, and is presently the public relations officer for their Lobster Festival.
In speaking about his work in San Pedro, Alberto told the San Pedro Sun, "Working in San Pedro is an entire change of environment for me. It is a challenge because the very nature of people makes them resistant to change. But overall, I think people have been receptive because I only have good intentions for the island. I want to see this experience become an example of how to run a municipality. I am grateful for the trust the community has given me and promise that I will not let them down."
At the age of twenty-three, this young professional through careful monitoring holds the welfare of San Pedro in his hands. His ambition seems great and his loyalty infinite; these traits are certainly beneficial to the progress of our "Isla Bonita." Alberto Villanueva Jr. brings with him a solid educational background that will guide him in making decisions for the proper development of and improvements to "Our Community."