My name is Eric Calderon and I was born and raised in Houston. I graduated from Nimitz High School and graduated from Texas A&M with a major in Petroleum Engineering. As for my family roots, on my father’s side, we are from Michoacán, Mexico. My grandfather came to the United States and first settled in south Texas but eventually migrated to Houston.
Planting new roots in a new country
My grandfather was the oldest of his siblings and came to the U.S. by himself at the age of seventeen. He was fleeing violence that had claimed the life of his father. After trying to get into the country and being deported, he was finally able to get to the U.S. legally. Eventually his siblings would join him.
He worked a few miscellaneous jobs until he met my grandmother, after which he secured a steady job as a shop hand at Delta Steel. My grandfather spent his entire career with this company, doing a range of jobs until ultimately becoming a delivery truck driver. He always valued having a job at a big company and work stability was critically important to him. My dad once said, “your grandpa didn’t always make as much money as he could have, working day laborer type of jobs like construction, but he always knew he would have a job when it was raining!”
In addition to his full-time job, my grandpa also worked weekend jobs which included picking crops, and he would often bring his school-aged children with him to help. As my dad reflects, “we learned the importance of working hard from a very young age.” That is a value that transcends multiple generations.
Working hard to establish my career
After graduating from college, I took my first job in Midland, TX working in the oil fields. It was an incredible way to learn an industry and put my engineering degree to work. After a few years in the field, I left to pursue my MBA at the Harvard Business School where I learned of a new career path – search funds.
I launched a search fund after graduation and purchased a small manufacturing company in Houston, near East End. I ran LK Industries for nearly five years before selling the business. It was incredible to see the value a business brings to its own community. One of highlights of my time operating the business was bringing YES Prep high school juniors and seniors to my shop for a “manufacturing day.” The students learned more than just how to build products; they learned about the importance of business in their own neighborhood.
Dedicating my time to education
While working on my MBA at Harvard Business School, one of my classmates was a graduate of YES Prep. I remember her sharing how important her experience was at YES and, because of her, the school left a positive impression on me. Later on, I would meet Tom Castro, a current YES Prep board member, who encouraged me to learn more about YES since he knew my passion for education in minority communities. After learning more about the school I knew that YES Prep was a special place, and I am honored to serve as a board member.
Impacting the next generation
It's my hope that I can impact the next generation of students to set high goals for themselves and know that there is a support network of individuals who will help them achieve those goals. The students at YES are incredibly fortunate to see this support early in their academic career. If I can make the “journey” of one young man or woman easier, and therefore create a desire in that person to help the next generation, then I have done what I set out to do.