‘Fratty hipster’ Fitzgerald shares passion for helping students

by: BRANDI ORTIZ/Staff Writer

For some people, going to work is a dreadful event.

But Ryan Fitzgerald, the new director of research and reports at South Plains College, says he has fallen in love with his job.

Fitzgerald, 25, has known since he was a child that he wanted to work in education. His passion for administration continued to grow.

Fitzgerald, who’s from Nacogdoches, Texas, loved the small town environment, and SPC offers just that. With SPC offering a Student – Faculty Ratio of 21:1, relationships are easily formed.

“Education is about the people involved,” Fitzgerald says, “not the money. It’s about the relationships.”

Reminiscing on his past college experiences, Fitzgerald thanks one special professor in undergraduate school and his father. Fitzgerald believes it is the constant support and the added extra “push” when he needed it that helped him achieve his goals.

But it’s passion and enjoyment that have driven Fitzgerald to choose such a career.

“Pick a major that you want, that you find interesting,” he says.

As director of research and reports, it is Fitzgerald’s job to find ways to help students succeed. He also says for students to look back and think of all that SPC had to offer that helped them achieve not only career goals, but personal goals as well.

Fitzgerald says if you find a career that you love, then going to work should be a breeze.

New Director of Research and Reports, Ryan Fitzgerald in the Technical Arts Building. JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE/PLAINSMAN PRESS

“There is a quote that goes, if you enjoy what you do at work, you never work a day in your life, something like that,” adds Fitzgerald.

“You spend more time at work and with your coworkers than you do at home with the person you marry and the kids you have,” he says. “So you better like where you go to work every day, and you better like who you work with, because you spend a lot of time there.”

Like any job, it could be stressful. So once Fitzgerald does get to go home, he has many ways of relieving such stress. He compares his methods to one character from a hit TV series.

“I’m Kevin Spacey from ‘House of Cards’,” explains Fitzgerald. “When I go home in the afternoon, I check out and play video games.”

Aside from playing video games that require strategic thinking, such as Fall Out and Skyrim, Fitzgerald also has a love for vinyl records and comic books. Though his favorite setting in a book is one of the post-apocalyptic era, Fitzgerald has many Marvel and DC comics covering his office. One student once described Fitzgerald as a “fratty hipster.”

Fitzgerald loves the students and hopes to “impact students’ lives for the better,” and to “make sure the students are liking what they do.”

As for advice he has for students, Fitzgerald says, “Read the syllabus! Everything you need to know is in it, important dates and when a paper is due.”

Also, he advises the students to ask questions, even if it is not class-related questions. Fitzgerald also encourages students to question their professors, not in a rude way, but in a way where you understand the material he or she is teaching. He also advices students to “become a skeptic in life,” to ask any and all questions, so when the time comes, you know why and how something is.

Fitzgerald urges students to get to know their professors, for it will be the professors at SPC who will help you become who you want to be and will always be there for you.

Last but not least, “find yourself,” says Fitzgerald. “It’s what college is for. It’s where you find out what you want to be, what you want out of life. You have four or five years to do it, so do it.”

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