Blas P. Arroyo reflects on his experiences as a student at NC State and how his education and family have influenced his life. Interview on September 20, 2012. (4:23)


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The experience as student body president was just one aspect of being a student here. 00:00:00.000 - 00:00:04.869
Had I not had that experience, had I lost that election, 00:00:04.869 - 00:00:08.235
my experience would have been very much the same. 00:00:08.235 - 00:00:11.394
I gained experiences through that, like I said, special experiences 00:00:11.394 - 00:00:15.486
like being an ex officio member of the board of trustees. 00:00:15.486 - 00:00:20.804
It added to something in my-and I learned from that experience. 00:00:20.804 - 00:00:24.166
But my main learning experiences here were just as a mainstream student, through that. 00:00:24.166 - 00:00:32.045
Now the interactions with Dean Hawkins were through the NC Fellows Program, 00:00:32.045 - 00:00:37.342
which I also don't remember how I got into that. 00:00:37.342 - 00:00:40.210
It was a great program. It was a leadership development program. 00:00:40.210 - 00:00:44.734
So I never asked him, how do you pick somebody that comes from a little town that's-? 00:00:44.734 - 00:00:52.248
I bet it probably had something to do with the pulp and paper scholarship. 00:00:52.248 - 00:00:55.901
It might have had something to do with how I got in an applicant pool. 00:00:55.901 - 00:00:59.492
But that NC Fellows Program and the ability to interact with Dean Hawkins 00:00:59.492 - 00:01:03.664
probably had the biggest impact, 00:01:03.664 - 00:01:07.230
I think, on me as a student and in helping me because he just had a tremendous ability- 00:01:07.230 - 00:01:12.035
among others, not to take away. 00:01:12.035 - 00:01:14.020
I mentioned Prof. Rogers earlier, and all these people that just listened, 00:01:14.020 - 00:01:18.477
and I had to have sounded like a dope a lot of the time, 00:01:18.477 - 00:01:24.134
silly questions, especially with as little as I'd been exposed to relatively at that point. 00:01:24.134 - 00:01:30.396
all of that collectively added up to an experience that, again, 00:01:30.396 - 00:01:34.389
has been a central part of what then followed in terms of the development of my life and career. 00:01:34.389 - 00:01:43.538
So I owe a lot to the university, I owe a lot to the people I interacted with here 00:01:43.538 - 00:01:49.534
who treated me decently and gave me the time of day and gave me guidance and things of that nature. 00:01:49.534 - 00:01:55.458
What I didn't mention before and probably should mention is I came 00:01:55.458 - 00:01:58.614
from this little town in north Florida [and my] surname, Arroyo, my father's family had immigrated first from Spain to Cuba 00:01:58.614 - 00:02:07.057
and then he and my mother had immigrated to the United States, 00:02:07.057 - 00:02:11.871
and he ended up in Palatka. 00:02:11.871 - 00:02:15.550
He played baseball in the days before everyone watched everything on television 00:02:15.550 - 00:02:20.667
and when Three-A baseball, Two-A baseball was a big deal, 00:02:20.667 - 00:02:25.439
but Palatka was the last city that he played baseball in. He was offered a contract, 00:02:25.439 - 00:02:29.954
a professional contract, and this is how things change. My older sister was on the way 00:02:29.954 - 00:02:35.635
and the money-. He went to work for the paper company 00:02:35.635 - 00:02:39.034
because the money wasn't good enough to really support a family for the future and he thought [it was a] better career, 00:02:39.034 - 00:02:43.925
so that's what brought us into that circle of being in Palatka, Florida 00:02:43.925 - 00:02:49.301
in the shadow of a paper mill. 00:02:49.301 - 00:02:51.127
So my parents had immigrated here, they had had an education in Cuba, 00:02:51.127 - 00:02:57.767
or at least [part of an] education in Cuba, 00:02:57.767 - 00:03:01.324
but that did not translate to the United States. 00:03:01.324 - 00:03:04.027
So I also owed them a lot-I guess I want to make sure [I mention that]- 00:03:04.027 - 00:03:09.181
in terms of helping to guide me and to encourage me and to pursue, for example, the scholarship, to pursue going out of state. 00:03:09.181 - 00:03:16.827
Now to really date myself, I-95 wasn't finished yet. 00:03:16.827 - 00:03:22.586
When I started at NC State in 1974 there were 00:03:22.586 - 00:03:26.131
large sections of I-95 between Florida and North Carolina that were not completed, 00:03:26.131 - 00:03:31.724
and mostly through Georgia you had to drive on two-lane roads and stuff, 00:03:31.724 - 00:03:34.293
so we would drive in the middle of the night, about a twelve-hour drive. 00:03:34.293 - 00:03:38.936
Once the interstate was finished it's like a nine-hour drive or whatever. 00:03:38.936 - 00:03:43.355
But that was a challenge, to go from a small town and again to go 00:03:43.355 - 00:03:49.290
that distance, but I think I mentioned before, they came to Raleigh with me for orientation 00:03:49.290 - 00:03:53.784
and they felt it too and they were supportive of my coming here. 00:03:53.784 - 00:03:59.155
It was a great decision. I've been very fortunate to have 00:03:59.155 - 00:04:03.979
fallen into some good decisions along the way, despite poor judgment maybe. [Laughs] 00:04:03.979 - 00:04:08.107
But thankfully one of them involved NC State and it was a great result for me. 00:04:08.107 - 00:04:15.574

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