Imelda Guzman knew she was going to St. Mary’s University just like her sister Angelica. Guzman not only earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration, but also a Master of Arts in communication studies. “I admired how the school develops well-rounded leaders,” she says. “I grew at St. Mary’s and evolved through leadership opportunities and loved my experience there.”
That good education led to human resources work in the hospitality industry, where she recruited personnel. Longing for something more fulfilling, she was drawn to health care, explaining, “I wanted to find meaning in what I was doing.” Working for the Methodist Healthcare System for almost nine years, she is the vice president of human resources at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital. Helping find the right person for the job brings Guzman satisfaction because she know it helps in a bigger way. Her co-workers are a bonus. “The people I work with are one of the best parts of my job,” she says; “the work can be stressful, but together we make things happen.”
Throughout her career, she hasn’t forgotten her alma mater: “St. Mary’s is a big part of my life.” Guzman joined a new Young Alumni chapter after graduation and became an active member. The group affords socializing, philanthropy, networking, career services, volunteering, civic entertaining and the opportunity to support university events. She is also on the executive committee of the St. Mary’s Alumni Association’s board of directors, where she supports chapters here, in the Rio Grande Valley and in Washington, D.C.
Of course, Guzman also supports the university in its role with the San Antonio community, currently serving as the chairman of the St. Mary’s Oyster Bake, celebrating its 99th year. She learned a lot from years of food booth work and section management and as chair-elect to her best friend, last year’s chair, Chris Boone. The event drew 70,000 in attendance last year. To pull off the popular two-day Fiesta event on April 17 and 18, she’s logged an average of 10 to 12 hours weekly as she enlists a committee of 10 plus 7,000 volunteers. The work includes collaboration with school leadership, interfacing with university staff and making decisions on everything including food, advertising, entertainment, purveyors, a collectible poster and a large kick-off party. Because of construction on campus she has had to creatively consider a different event footprint. That creative thinking has led to a new “chill” section that will have a food truck park, jazz bands and alumni in a singer/songwriter showcase.
Guzman wants others to know that there’s more to the event than the revelry. “It’s not just partying — there’s a purpose. The tradition has grown, raising $2.6 million to help students through partial and full scholarships,” she says. She’s enlisting the help of current scholars in a way that allows them to develop a proposal and plan for booths so that they can give back and support the programs from which they benefit. The funds raised also support alumni programs, chapter efforts, gifts to the university and grounds enhancement.
Passion about her hometown is apparent, especially the South Side. Guzman lives just five minutes from where she grew up, remarking, “I like staying in one place. It’s a great city.” She says she’d like to think that her work, her giving back to the community all contribute to developing a talented workforce right here: “San Antonio has so much to offer.”
Occupation: Vice president human resources, Methodist Stone Oak Hospital.
Role Models: Her parents, who retired early and filled their time with community events and volunteerism. “They taught us to give back and showed us by example.” Included in events, especially festivals, as a child she witnessed their devotion to their church and community, recalling, “We stayed the latest, set up chairs, and cleaned up afterward. They also really pushed the importance of education.”
Why she’s a Role Model: She’s only the third woman to chair the St. Mary’s Oyster Bake in 99 years and one of the youngest. She’s devoted over a decade to volunteerism and is committed to helping raise money to make college possible for students.
Her goals: Short term – beat last year’s fundraising total. Long term – would love to have a family.
Favorite places in San Antonio: La Tuna and Rosario’s.
Best way to relax:
Having a beer close by, watching a Spurs game.
Oysters: Yes, preferably raw.
Favorite TV program: Nashville. “I’ve visited twice in the last year and really like country music.”
Last book read: Gone Girl