State Rep. Jose Aliseda (R-Beeville), BA ’78, JD ’81, remembers starting school in Chicago after immigrating to the United States from Mexico City at age 4. “I didn’t speak a word of English, and the school had no idea what to do with me,” Aliseda says. “So they put me in special ed.”
Aliseda proved to be a quick learner. Not only did he master his second language to earn a BA in English, he also got a law degree, served in the U.S. Navy, and began a long legal career that included stints as a prosecutor, county judge, and Gov. Perry-appointed member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Now in his first session representing Beeville in the Texas House of Representatives, Aliseda has been elected “Freshman of the Year” by the 101 House Republicans. He was chosen from more than 30 other new Republican representatives.
Preventing voter fraud and carefully managing natural resources in his district are priorities for him, Aliseda says.
Aliseda transferred to UT-Austin from UT-Pan American his sophomore year with plans to be pre-med. His father, a physician, hoped that his son would carry on the family tradition.
When Aliseda switched his major to English, he kept it secret from his father. “Doctors and lawyers don’t get along,” he chuckles. “The last thing my dad wanted was for me to be a lawyer, and that’s what my brother and I both turned out to be. But that’s the American dream—to be whatever you want.”
His liberal arts education prepared him well for his legal career, Aliseda says. He cited psychology professor Devendra Singh—a captivating instructor who held class outside on nice days—as a favorite teacher, and fondly recalls taking salsa and ballroom dancing classes at the Texas Union.
Aliseda said he knows that as a Conservative who is also a first-generation Hispanic immigrant, he’s a political rarity. Among those on the right, he finds himself uniquely positioned to engage a left-leaning demographic. “In politics, the messenger can be as important as the message,” he says.
This session’s freshman class of House Republicans includes six Hispanics and two African Americans.
“People need to hear about immigration from the perspective of a legal immigrant,” he says. “I waited 13 years to become a U.S. citizen, and I’ve tried to give back through 23 years of public service.”
Photo courtesy of Jose Aliseda
Cary Michael Cox:
Can't wait to see this staff and team in action!
Cary Michael Cox...
Great article, if your looking to get more people involved with supporting RGV s...
Even in the 1950s and 1960s students came to UT from the Valley. One of them was...
Always great to hear that students are succeeding at UT Austin....
Cary Michael Cox:
What a great story and a wonderful tribute to his mother.
Habitat For Humanit...