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Xavier Magazine

Profile: Silka Gonzalez

SILKA GONZALEZ
BSBA, computer information systems and accounting, 1984
President and founder, Enterprise Risk Management
Miami

Secure Business | Gonzalez founded Enterprise Risk Management in 1998 to provide security and auditing services for information systems to a wide variety of domestic and international businesses.

Right Place, Right Time | Gonzalez’ career has coincided almost precisely with the worldwide computerization of the home and workplace, as well as the evolution of the Internet. She had twin degrees in computer information systems and accounting, which was unusual in the early 1980s. The combination along with her work experience gave her a strong foundation from which to create her business. “The timing was good,” she says. “We had been in this booming era of technology, but no one was paying much attention to security and controls. I was able to grow with it as those problems emerged. I was at the right place at the right time.”

Security Concerns | “I don’t think people took technical controls very seriously 20 years ago. I have seen the progression through the years to where it’s become extremely important for organizations. We’ve seen the changes in both state and federal laws related to security and privacy. Everyone is paying attention. If you look at identity theft, everyone is worried about that.”

Organized Crime Online | “Incremental security breaches have been growing in an incredible way in the last three years. That, to me, is alarming. There are internal personnel doing things they aren’t supposed to do, but now we’re seeing organized crime from overseas—places like Romania, China, Russia. People aren’t paying enough attention to it.”

User Beware | Gonzalez is very cautious about using credit cards online for fear of security breaches. “My colleagues call me paranoid.” Paranoia in the IT security business, though, is understandable. After all, Gonzalez spends her days hunting down hackers who break into computer systems to steal sensitive private information from people and companies. Her advice: “Don’t throw anything in the garbage. Shred everything. You need to be very careful.”

Family Influence | Moving to Cincinnati from Puerto Rico for college at age 16 was a big move for Gonzalez, who struggled her first year at Xavier because of the language barrier. “It was a big change,” she says. “Cincinnati was very different from Puerto Rico.” But Xavier offered a Jesuit education that was important to Gonzalez’ mother and a relatively unique program in information systems. “I wanted to major in something related to computers and there was no such bachelor’s degree in Puerto Rico.”

Honors | Gonzalez was part of the South Florida Business Journal’s Inaugural Class of Most Influential Business Women in 2002.

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Xavier Magazine

Joy for Haiti

It was a joyous homecoming last month for Chris Pramuk, a Xavier assistant professor of theology, his wife, Lauri, and their growing family. The Pramuks returned to Cincinnati from Denver on Jan. 27 with the two Haitian orphans they are adopting, 6-year-old Sophia Luc and 1-year-old Henry David Valdeus. The Pramuks, who also have two biological children, were a year into the adoption process when the earthquake devastated the poor Caribbean nation that has left at least 150,000 dead or missing.

 

“There are so many hidden heroes,” Chris says of the network of people throughout the United States and in Haiti, as well as in Cincinnati and at Xavier, who helped speed the rescue of Sophia, Henry David and the other youngsters in their badly damaged Port-au-Prince orphanage. “It’s a story that continues not only at our orphanage, as you know, but across Haiti.”

 

The Pramuks credit the resourcefulness of the orphanage’s workers for protecting their children amid unfathomable misery. “The Haitians are a very resilient people,” says Lauri. “They’re used to catastrophes.”

 

The Pramuks had expected to wait another year to complete the adoptions, which are being processed by an agency in Colorado. After the quake, however, they and hundreds of other American families with Haitian adoptions in the pipeline asked the U.S. government to help get the children out of Haiti quickly by granting them humanitarian parole. The adoptions will be finalized in the United States.

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Xavier Magazine

Top Honors

In the world of horticulture, Xavier’s Walter Bonvell has earned top honors.

Bonvell, one of three grounds foremen at Xavier, recently earned the designation of Certified Grounds Manager from the Baltimore-based Professional Grounds Management Society, or PGMS. Bonvell is one of only 124 professional grounds managers nationwide to have the designation.

“It’s a very select group,” says Jenny Smith, associate executive director for PGMS. “There are a limited number of grounds professionals who meet the criteria.”

Candidates must have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a horticulture-related field and/or a certain number of years of on-the-job experience, including work as a supervisor. Candidates also must pass a two-part test. Founded in 1911, PGMS is one of the oldest and best known of the industry’s professional associations.

Bonvell, who earned his BS in horticulture at Eastern Kentucky University, has been in the grounds management business for 35 years, the last 28 at Xavier. He is responsible for maintaining the grounds within Xavier’s academic and residential malls, University Drive and the

Gallagher Student Center, says Bonvell’s manager, Dick Menke.

Bonvell is active in PGMS as national and regional board member. He also is on the organization’s sustainability committee, which is raising awareness among grounds managers about the value of green roofs and other eco-friendly techniques meant to conserve water and reduce pollution from fertilizers.

“He understands that grounds maintenance is more than cutting grass and trimming bushes,” says Robert Sheeran, associate vice president for facility management. “It’s about maintaining an environment that is home to thousands of students and where hundreds of employees work each day. Managing the green space on an urban campus to the high level that we do at Xavier is quite a challenge. As you walk around the campus you can see the ownership and the passion he has for his work.”

Xavier’s 148-acre campus includes about 20 acres of open space, eight of which are athletic fields. The grounds staff maintains about 50 acres of turf, 25 acres of display beds and 30 acres of paved areas.

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Xavier Magazine

Jack Shack

General Introductions: Xavier’s Front Door

Jack Smith remembers seeing a bright light, feeling very cold and having the sensation of floating. The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital.

“I’m a survivor,” he says, recounting the near-death experience that left him unconscious for several days in 2004. “My journey was not completed yet. There’s a reason God sent me back. That’s why I say, ‘I’m a survivor.’ ”

That’s the kind of optimistic outlook that greets each visitor to Xavier. The 58-year-old Smith is the guard posted along University Drive on campus who directs visitors on what building they need to go to and where to park. And it is his mission, he says, to bring a positive message to all those he greets at the entrance to the University.

“This is the positive gate,” he says of the entryway where he works, which has ceremoniously been renamed the Jack Shack in his honor. “I tell people ‘You can do anything you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do something. When you come through here, you have to be positive.’ ”

Smith, an avid reader who loves to garden and hang out at the beach, has been working the gate at Xavier full time for four years. He joined the University after 28 years at Bethesda North Hospital, where he was an operating room assistant in the cardiac unit. That’s where he was the day he had a heart attack and lost consciousness after falling forward, hitting his head and breaking his shoulder.

“At Bethesda, I interacted with patients and families and now I interact with students,” he says, waving to one of his many student-acquaintances walking along the sidewalk in front of Schmidt Hall on a sunny afternoon. “I just like talking to people. If you don’t talk to ‘em, you won’t get nothing.”

Indeed, gate regulars routinely banter with Smith, a gray-bearded, husky man with a quick smile and a perpetual Key West tan.
“I’m here to teach a class,” an adjunct says, as she pauses her car to speak to Smith. “They told me if I told you a good story, you’d give me a parking pass.”

Smith grins and waves her on.

A friendly demeanor—and a love of sports—has helped Smith connect with everyone. He was even asked to give a Xavier welcome to officials from the University of Cincinnati who came to campus for a Crosstown Shootout.

“Three years ago, the president’s office asked me to stay over to greet the UC board members who were coming here for the Crosstown Shootout,” says Smith, who knew the members because he had worked as an usher for the University of Cincinnati for 28 years before he began ushering at Xavier basketball games in 2003.

He also has worked as an usher for the Bengals and Reds since he was 18.

Smith’s sparkle ignites smiles outside sports arenas as well. He likes to tell the story of a taciturn commercial banker who recently visited Xavier for a meeting with University President Michael J. Graham, S.J.

“The president’s office called me afterward and wanted to know how I got the bank executive to laugh,” says Smith, summing up his positive outlook on life, “If you treat people nice, they’ll treat you well.”

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