For most high school graduates who come to college, the number one goal is getting a university degree.

For Sam Houston State football manager Alex Padron, the goal was much bigger. This past year Padron became a United States citizen.

“My family moved to this area from Mexico City when I was about five,” Padron said. “After starting out at Navarro College, Sam Houston State looked to me to be a great place to get my college degree. Being here at Sam Houston, I decided it was time for me to become a U.S. citizen.”

As a student manager for the Bearkat football team, Padron has many duties including care, cleaning and organization of the student-athlete’s individual equipment, making sure the field at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium is ready for daily practices and setting up things for game day.

“We try to come in every day and make sure each of the players has what they need to practice and play,” Padron said. “I’m there to help them.”

Once his decision to seek citizenship was made, Padron acted.

“I filled out the forms and sent them in,” Padron said. “Maybe a month later, on July 2 last year, I got a letter back saying that my application was approved. The next step was to go in and take the citizenship examinations.”

Padron passed.

“It was so amazing,” Pardon said. “I cried. Not many people get this opportunity.”

Padron’s family was proud of his accomplishment as well.

“The whole family was excited the day I got my citizenship,” Padron said. “My parents were in tears. They were really happy for me especially my mother.

“Mom believed in me. She told me she wanted me to be the best you can be and not to give up on your dreams. She said to go out as far as you can, to keep going to school and get my degree. This was for her. She means the world to me.”

Padron also is proud that he went through the process on his own.

“Though out the process I did it by myself,” Padron said.  “I didn’t have help from a lawyer.”

As a student at Sam Houston and a manager for the football team, Padron seeks to give back to the university and his community.

He is a member of the executive council for the SHSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a group dedicated to providing the opportunity for student-athletes to have a quality academic and athletic experience that will culminate in graduation from Sam Houston.

The organization is involved in a number of projects to help in the Huntsville community including distribution of packages from the Houston Food Bank to area families in need.

“Alex is a hard worker who is passionate about everything he does,” Sam Houston Associate Athletic Director for Student Services Chris Thompson said. “He has been a leader for us with SAAC since he arrived on campus. He has earned his teaching certificate and currently is working on his Master’s degree. He’s someone you can trust to get things done.”

Thompson noted that, as much as he loves being a Bearkt, Padron’s biggest passion has been becoming a citizen.

 “To become a United States citizen means a lot to me,” Padron said. “It’s a privilege and a responsibility.  To serve this country, to be here and have most of my family here means so much.”