Congressman Pete P. Gallego will be the keynote speaker at the 66th Annual SWTJC Commencement Ceremony slated May 11 in Uvalde.
"We are honored that Congressman Gallego has accepted our invitation to be this year's keynote speaker," said Ismael Sosa, Jr., Ph.D., president of SWTJC. "He is a special friend of my family and has been a strong supporter of higher education for many years. I know he will have a great message for our graduates."
A native of Alpine, TX, Gallego represents the 23rd Congressional District of Texas which includes parts of Bexar and El Paso counties as well as Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, La Salle, Loving, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Schleicher, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, Winkler, and Zavala counties.
Gallego earned his Bachelor's Degree in political science from Sul Ross State University in 1982 and in 1985 earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.
Prior to his election to Congress in 2012, Gallego served more than 20 years in the Texas House as the representative of District 74, the largest house district in the state.
The son of a World War II veteran and a state employee, Congressman Gallego was born in Alpine where he attended local public schools and worked in his family`s restaurant. Following his graduation from law school, he became an assistant attorney general before returning home to serve as a felony prosecutor.
Congressman Gallego currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, of particular significance because of the large military presence in Texas. The Armed Services Committee has jurisdiction over defense policy, ongoing military operations, the organization and reform of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, counter-drug programs, acquisition and industrial base policy, technology transfer and export controls, joint interoperability, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Department of Energy nonproliferation programs, and detainee affairs and policy.
As a state legislator, Gallego was an expert in appropriations, law enforcement, criminal justice, campaign finance and victims' rights. He served on the joint House/Senate conference committee on the state budget for five consecutive sessions from 1993 to 2001 and has received numerous awards, including the Advocate for Justice award from a coalition of Texas victims' groups and the Star of Texas public service award by Common Cause of Texas.
He was selected as one of Texas Monthly's Ten Best legislators. Gallego also served for eight years as chair of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC), a group of 43 House members who are of Mexican-American descent or who serve a significant Mexican-American constituency.
In the state legislature Gallego also worked to increase investments in public education and universities, fought on behalf of disabled children and helped build roads and schools in low-income areas of West Texas. He has worked to reform the criminal justice system and support Texas veterans. Gallego used his experience as a prosecutor to pass Texas' "Life Without Parole" law and helped to create the state's DNA data base.
Pete and his wife, Maria Elena, are raising their eight year old son, Nicolas.
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