Alumni Profile: Raul Valdes ('04)

5 Questions with Raul Valdes ('04)

Associate Director of Electrical
JBA Consulting Engineers (New Orleans, Louisiana)

College of Engineering, Business & Technology
Electrical Engineering Concentration

What brought you to LETU?

Technically, I got a ride from my foreign exchange student counselor from Pasadena, Texas to Longview. Shortly before that I learned of LeTourneau's reputation as a prestigious Christian technically-oriented university from a counselor and coach at Harvard Christian Academy. During high school I also lived with a great family that knew the Scherm family (Kris, Karl and Kevin) who are all LeTourneau alumni. After a brief talk with them, I knew LeTourneau was the place I wanted to go, even though I wasn't planning at that time to pursue college. After that, Melissa White in admissions came to my hometown to pick up and personally hand deliver my application after several completed applications had been lost in the mail. It wasn't the traditional way of selecting schools but it seemed like it was all meant to be.


How would you describe your LETU Experience?

Very challenging. I remember getting a C on my first test. High school was relatively easy for me, but I soon learned that LeTourneau was a different place. After 5 years, I was able to obtain a degree, lead mission trips to Mexico, serve as a Peer Advisor and then Student Body President. Beyond that, I obtained deep and valuable friendships as well as a sense of who I was and who I wanted to become.


Did any professors have a significant impact?

By far, Bill Graff. I know I'm not the only student who would say that. Among many I could mention, I would say his commitment to being fair was a quality I still pursue daily. He would assign specific points to each question on quizzes and tests and would give grades to the third decimal point so that your final grade would be - beyond a shadow of a doubt - final.

But I would say that most impactful was the institution's dedication to hold both the pursuit of academic excellence and the pursuit of Christ with equal regard. That was personified in many professors.


How has LETU prepared you for your career?

LeTourneau taught me the basics of engineering and of leadership. More importantly, LeTourneau taught me how to study and how to be part of design teams. In this fast-paced life, learning never ends and most projects are performed in teams.


What advice would you give to LETU students?

Explore. You may never again be in a place where so many opportunities are within such a close reach. You have experts in psychology, cell biology, thermodynamics and Old Testament all within a 5 minute walk. You have a chance to participate in floor traditions, Hootenanny or whatever crazy things go on these days. Although you may not think so, you may never have the time or the energy to take part in such diverse activities. Obviously you can't do everything, but make sure you get a little taste of something that is completely foreign to you. Who knows what will come out of it.

"LeTourneau taught me how to study and how to be part of design teams. In this fast-paced life, learning never ends and most projects are performed in teams."