by Nefi Gonzalez
by Nefi Gonzalez
I was born and raised in a small country in Central America called Guatemala. Guatemala is a beautiful country surrounded by volcanos, jungles, rivers, lakes, forests, and it is the home of the Mayan civilization.
As a young boy, I wanted to be an astronaut, a missionary, an engineer, a doctor, an airplane pilot, movie director, skier, scuba diver but above anything, I always wanted to be like my dad. One of Guatemala’s exports has been exotic lumber. My grandfather worked as a mechanical engineer and was one of the few men in Guatemala that knew how to install Italian saw mills. Eventually he designed and built his own machines, which were cheaper and just as good as the ones imported from Italy. When my grand father was contracted to build saw mills, he would spend several months implementing all the equipment and would take his family to the areas where he was contracted to install the machinery. Eventually he decided to settle down and start a lumber yard of his own and named it “Acerradero La Fe”.
When my father was young, he worked for my grandfather and was able to learn a lot from him. In his early 20’s, he married my mother and shortly there after, he decided to start his own business building industrial bread mixers. Up until the mid 70’s, bakeries had to buy their industrial equipment from Europe. My father saw an opportunity to compete with the European market, and started by designing his own bread molder. He managed to get a booth at an international industrial fair, where companies from all over the world showcased their equipment. My father’s bread molder caught everyones attention during the fair, he was honored by a surprise visit from the president of Guatemala - General Fernando Romeo Lucas García, and was featured in an article in one of the local news papers. His machine received several awards and shortly after the fair, he started receiving orders.(The young man on the left is my father, Victor Manuel Gonzalez Soler. Next to him is the President of Guatemala)
By the time my youngest brother Abinadi was born, my father’s business was growing fast and had his brothers Juan Francisco and Jose Bruno join the company however, when I was seven years old, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away three months later. My dad built our house on top of the factory which meant I had direct access to all the machines and tools. I often took the tools to my room and used them to pretend that I was working in the factory. My mom tells me that the workers had to constantly knock on the door to ask if I had borrowed a welding mask, hammers, or screw drivers and so forth.(These are my syster, Hyde Brown and my litle brother, Abinadi Gonazlez. The oldest boy on the left is me - this picture was taken in fromt of my father's comapny, DEMEGUA)
I loved hanging out with my uncles in the factory. Every day after school I would hurry and eat my lunch, while watching Gilligan's Island, then finish my homework so I could head down to the factory. This routine went on until I went to high school which offered me the option to get an associate degree in architecture, auto mechanic or industrial electronics. I chose industrial electronics, and by the time I graduated I was 18 and was able to claim my dad’s place in the company. Unbeknownst to me, the economy in Guatemala started to decline which caused financial problems with our company. During this time, I continued to work in the factory and attended college, however when I turned twenty two, the company had only two employees and we finally had to close it down.(This is my uncle, Jose Bruno, he is holding my sister Hyde and the boy is me)
While I was going to school I took english classes primarily because I wanted to understand the lyrics of songs I had heard in english. Ironically this was the kind of music most radio stations played, even though the majority of the people in the country (myself included), didn’t understand what the heck Michael Jackson was singing about. I also wanted to watch movies without having to read the subtitles, get the jokes and understand American culture. Little did I know that I was about to go on a two year journey where 99% of my companions were American missionaries, was going to learn English and American culture. Most of my mission companions were surfers from California, and by the end of my mission, I spoke English like a Californian. I had learned a lot of slang, the culture and was finally able to watch movies without having to read the subtitles, I even got the Jokes that were always lost in translation. The funny thing is that now after having more than 20 years experience speaking and understanding English, I still don’t understand what the heck Michael Jackson is singing in “Wanna Be Startin' Somethin’"
Since I was a young boy I started saving money to serve an LDS mission, but I was focused on trying to keep the factory running, with my uncle Juan, so I postponed my mission plans. Shortly after the factory was shutdown I decided to put school on hold and serve the mission I had wanted to serve as a child. In Jan 1997 I was called to serve my mission in the south west mountains of Guatemala, called Queztaltenango, which is located near the border of Guatemala and Mexico. I was disappointed because since I was a kid, I had dreamt about leaving my country to learn a new language. Despite my disappointment, I decided to serve my mission, and I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be a wonderful spiritual, life changing experience. Serving my mission was also one of the hardest things I have ever accomplished in my life, however I was able to learn a lot of valuable lessons that have come in handy.
While I was in my mission, I hurt my knee which required me to have two surgeries. While I was recovering from my second surgery, I meet the mission nurse Megan Fielden, or Sister Fielden as she was called on her mission. My companion and I shared an office with the nurses, since we were the financial secretaries of the mission. During this time, Megan and I became good friends and developed personal feelings for each other. We each didn’t know about the feelings we had for each other, and didn’t say anything because, one of the mission rules is to not act on such feelings. Megan and I remained in touch after our missions.
I got a job as a computer technician and Megan and I started a long distance “love” relationship. We spoke on the phone, however daily e-mails were our most common form of communication. A few months after our relationship started, I sold my car, bought an engagement ring and headed to the US embassy to request a tourist visa, so I could travel to Utah and propose to her in person. Unfortunately my request was denied twice, so I decided to call her and proposed over the phone. I was excited, nervous and scared, but I had no doubt that it was the right choice. At this point, I had not made any plans for the future and didn’t know what was going to happen. All I knew was I wanted to be with the love of my life, and knew everything else would workout just fine somehow.(This is me after my mission)
When I finally got up my courage to propose to Megan, I picked up the phone and called her. When her younger sister answer the phone, I asked if I could speak with Megan, to which the phone was passed to her and she said “Hello.” At that moment, I got on one knee, as if standing in front of her, held the ring in my hand and said: “Megan Fielden, would you be my eternal companion?.” There was a brief moment of silence, I then heard the phone receiver drop, then Megan ran around her house screaming. After running and screaming for a while, Megan grabbed the phone again and says “Yes, I do!”, then she told me that I also needed to ask her mother, Becky Kapp. I had met Becky and Kenny Kapp when they went to Guatemala to pick up Megan at the end of her mission. Megan wanted me to meet her Mother and Step Father so they invited me to have dinner with them. Becky told me that she knew from that moment she met me that I was going to marry her daughter, she and Kenny were very happy and very supportive.(Megan came to spent Christmas with me in 1999)
I asked Megan to move to Guatemala and get married and live there with me but she didn’t want to quit her Job and stop going to college so she talked to the INS and they told her about a type of visa called “Fiancé Visa”. This special visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. She submitted the petition and about a month after the INS received the petition I received a call from the US Embassy in Guatemala for my visa interview. The interview went very well, and just like that, my visa was approved. I sold all everything that I had, it was time for me to travel to Utah. I grabbed my old mission backpack, I bought a pair of new shoes, a t-shirt, a pair of jeans some underwear, my favorite CDs, some pictures, and $2500.00 that I got from selling all my positions. Once again, I was about to start a new chapter in my life, this time I was very scared because I was moving to a new country and start a new life with nothing but the cloths I was wearing, the $2500.00 in my pocket and a dream. My dream was to be a good husband, a good father and live a good life in this wonderful country that soon I will be calling home.(Arriving at SLC on April 6th 2000)
Megan and I got married in April 8th 2000 at the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. Shortly after I got married I got my first job at Deseret Book as a warhorse clerk, my job was to process orders. I was only making $6.00 per hour but I was glad I had a job.While I was working at Deseret Book I kept applying for a better job, I wanted to work in the IT field but I never got an interview. Finally I decided to search for tech companies in the yellow pages and sent them copies of my resume hoping that one of these companies had an opening for a computer tech or something similar. During the summer, I got a call from a computer shop called 1st Micro Direct, The manager asked if I can come in for an interview that same day, I said yes and met with them in the afternoon. The interview went well, they took me inside their shop and and took me to the computer assembly area where they had prepared a bench with tools and all the necessary parts to build a new computer. They asked me to assemble it so I mounted all the parts in the compute case, plugged all the cables, turned the machine on and installed windows 98. When I finished, they asked me “when can you start?” I could not believe what I heard so I asked: “Does this mean I got the job?” and they said “Yes, we would like to offer you the position” and just like that I was hired on the spot. In July 28 2001, my son Joshua was born and during the fall of the same year 1st Micro Direct went out of business and I lost my job.
While I worked at First Micro, I met a lot of customers. One of them contacted me after I lost my job and asked me if I would be interested in setting up an Active Directory Domain Controller, a web server and an email server for a small trucking company called ATG. I didn’t know anything about Active Directory but I knew how to set up a Linux Web and E-Mail server. I took the job and bought the MCSC books for windows 2000 server. I had two computers and I used them to set up sandbox and learned all the necessary steps by following the instructions in the MCSC books. I knew that this was a temporary job so I applied for several jobs while I worked with ATG and In about 3 months or so, I had all the ATG computers join the domain controller successfully for the first time, I created all the user accounts, set up a Linux server running Apache web server and SendMail to handle their e-mail and I even created their website.
After I finished the job for ATG, I was called for an interview at IHC’s Cotton Wood Hospital for a computer tech position. I passed the interview and I got the Job and I was now making even more money than before, I started moving up the latter very quickly, the company offered a lot of training, I was able to get my MCSE and A+ certifications. Since I started working on the project for the ATG, I read a lot of books about linux, learned HTML, PHP and MYSQL. Two years after working as a tech I was promoted to senior tech then a position at the corporate offices opened and I applied for it. The job required a lot of Linux experience and all those years of teaching myself linux and the experience that I had working with IHC’s clinical systems payed off. In January 2005, I got the job at the corporate offices and I was now an application analyst supporting HL7 and X12 interfaces and managing the AIX servers that hosted all the EGate interfaces for all the clinical systems in the company. In May 21st 2005, I became a naturalized US Citizen. Two years later I was an Enterprise Network Planner. I was part of the web system administrators team, I managed dozens of unix servers that hosted all the web-based apps developed by IHC; The Apache web servers for all the external websites; The spam filters and Sharepoint servers.
6 years have past since I moved to Utah, during those years I became a father, had a decent job, became a US citizen and bought a house in Layton. While I was working for IHC, some of my colleagues went to work for HCA, I kept hearing good things about the company and that made me want to be part of it. I applied for a system administrator position at St. Mark’s Hospital. I went through three interviews and I was almost certain that I got the Job but unfortunately my father-in-law, Kenny Kapp, was the director for Tech Services and if I got the job I would have to report to him and HCA’s policies did not allow that. About a year or so there was an opening for a division website administrator. I applied and got the Job. I have been working for HCA for 9 years and 7 months and I love my Job and I’m grateful for all the opportunities and challenges that I have encountered during this journey.
So here I am, 42 years old, I didn’t become an astronaut; a scuba diver; an airplane pilot or a doctor. However, working in Healthcare IT for more than 16 years has been one of the most successful and fulfilling things in my career. I may not be a doctor but I have no doubt that what I do helps not just doctors but also nurses, patient loved ones and yes, even patients.
I think that the Flight Academy program has provided a lot of value to our organization. I have seen how this program has help members of our organization who have participated in the program obtain new skills and learn about themselves, their strengths and helped them grow as individuals and also in their careers. I think there is always room to grow and I think the Flight Academy can help me learn new skills and become a better person.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to apply this year.