MCC Alternative Teacher Certification Program Director Speaks About Leadership


Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” I recently had the privilege of conducting the second interview for the McLennan Community College version of Taking Charge. I met with Fay Gutierrez, MCC Alternative Teacher Certification Program Director, who spoke about the importance of leadership and of having good mentors and role models. Gutierrez believes confidence in oneself is the key to taking initiative and becoming a leader.

For the past 35 years, Gutierrez has worked for MCC. She was hired for a position at the college two months after graduating from MCC’s legal secretarial program and has never worked anywhere else. Her two children attended MCC as well. Gutierrez’s son is now a doctor and her daughter is a teacher.

As program director of the Alternative Teaching Program at MCC, her fifth position at the college, Gutierrez is in charge of developing curriculum, selecting students, budgeting, and monitoring student success. In addition to these duties, Gutierrez also chairs The Texas Community College Consortium for Teacher Education Programs.

Shy and quiet as a student, Gutierrez says she wasn’t always a leader but a hardworking “follower and doer.” She explained some people may have character traits or an upbringing that naturally predisposes and prepares them for leadership roles. However, this “doesn’t mean a person can’t become a leader later in life,” Gutierrez said. There are many stories about leaders and talented individuals who overcame great obstacles to achieve success.

Several Alternative Teacher Certification students do not exhibit leadership qualities when they first enroll in the program, Gutierrez said. As they are given challenges and opportunities, they begin to realize their potential and consequently blossom as individuals.

Gutierrez emphasized the importance of mentors in the formation and development of a leader. If individuals have leadership skills, it’s important for them to share this knowledge and “take others under their wing,” Gutierrez said. She firmly believes all leaders must have strong role models. Gutierrez said her 90-year-old mother, Efigenia Lopez, remains the most inspiring role model in her life. Lopez taught her daughters there are no limits to their success simply because they are women.

The key to becoming an excellent leader is gaining confidence by “stepping out.” The only way individuals can gain self-assurance is to be brave and try new things. “Do not be afraid to ‘go out of the box,’ take on responsibility, and be active in different areas. You don’t know if you can do something until you try it,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez is just another example of an exemplary MCC staff member students will be able to learn about in Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life.