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Called to Service: Student Spotlight on Gerardo Antonio Reyes

Gerardo Antonio “Tony” Reyes can still remember the struggle. He was just a kid at the time, but he’ll never forget how his parents often had to travel across the Mexican border from their home in the Rio Grande Valley, in search of healthcare they could afford. Reyes was the oldest of his siblings, born with that eldest child’s ingrained sense of responsibility. As the years passed, that trait developed into a passion to be of service to others which, coupled with the lasting impression from seeing his parents’ struggles, led to his desire to find a career in healthcare.

“I enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after high school with aspirations of being in the healthcare field,” he says. Unfortunately, that field wasn’t an option when Reyes first signed his contract. Then finally, in 2021, the Navy chose 30 individuals to attend nursing school and pursue a commission into the Nurse Corps, an over-2,500-member-strong group of active-duty and reserve nurses who serve worldwide. “Thankfully, my name was selected, and I was granted permission to attend Texas Lutheran.”

He knew TLU would be a good fit for him right from his first official visit. He was sold on the small class sizes. “I loved it here,” he says, looking back over his time in the nursing program. “All the professors, adjunct faculty, and administration know their students by name and were always available to us. I knew I wouldn’t get that kind of access to my professors at a larger university. I believe that was one of the primary factors that led to my success.”

Because Reyes began his military career in enlisted service, he will be what is referred to as a “Navy Mustang” once commissioned after graduation this spring. A Mustang is an officer who has risen from the rank of enlisted personnel.

After that, he’ll attend Officer Development School in Rhode Island for five weeks, followed by a Navy Medicine 101 Course in Maryland. “My ultimate duty station is with the U.S. Marines at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.”

Professionally, Reyes plans to pursue a career as a Family Nurse Practitioner while on active duty with the Navy. But what is his ultimate dream? “My dream is to retire honorably from military service and join a medical family practice that will allow me enough time off to enjoy my family.” Serving others and pulling his family close—a dream perfectly suited to one whose calling was born when he was just a boy, watching his parents struggle and feeling a conviction to help.