by T.J. Garcia
McAllen native has a flair for business, a knack for coding, and a passion for problem-solving
Rise and grind. It’s more than a motto — it’s a lifestyle for Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, who put the empowering slogan on a T-shirt she sells on her boutique site, alablanca.co. It shows the playful side of this educator, entrepreneur, and mother of two.
The marriage of creative design and business savvy that has defined Gonzalez- Alcantar’s impressive career began its courtship at Texas State University where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2004. It wasn’t the only match made on campus — it’s also where Gonzalez- Alcantar met her husband, Marco Alcantar (B.S. ’06).
Fifteen years since graduating, and leaving Lantana Hall, she still reflects on lessons learned in San Marcos — lasting instructions on leadership, life, and even love. From serving as a youth minister with Baptist Student Ministries to designing artwork for the University Star, Gonzalez- Alcantar found her place among young leaders on campus.
“Texas State gave me a lot of opportunities. It offered me my first real glimpse into diversity and I really loved it,” she says. Today, she is a member of the university’s Development Foundation Leadership Council.
In her native Rio Grande Valley, where she lives with her husband and two children, Gonzalez-Alcantar is CEO of the McAllen Boys & Girls Club. It’s a culmination of her vocation and avocation — her talent for innovative problem-solving and her passion for it. It’s a strength for which she credits an unexpected source: her art education.
“I believe 100 percent that business people should be required to take some kind of art class. It forces you to look at things in a different way. It helped me become a better problem solver,” she says. “Being an art major at Texas State allowed me the opportunity to get out of my box and I never really got back in.”
Through her various endeavors, Gonzalez-Alcantar sees the world as a kaleidoscope of opportunities, each richer and more complex than the last. Returning to McAllen as an educator for college and career readiness, she discovered a lack of resources to learn or teach technology and the coding language that’s critical in preparing young people for tomorrow’s workforce. She turned the challenge into a prospect. “When I moved home to the Valley, I started to understand the whole digital gap that exists here and a new inequity that exists — access to information equality,” she says. “That’s what led me to build the app.”
With no previous training, Gonzalez- Alcantar developed eJucomm, a technology startup that was acquired by San Franciscobased Campus Orb. “I learned how to build apps online and, truth be told, I couldn’t pass a math class at Texas State. So, don’t let people tell you that you can’t be good at technology,” she says. “I failed math three times and I built an app!”
eJucomm was designed to serve K-12 students and school districts with a focus on bringing families together in the learning space. “I feel like I birthed two things at the same time: my daughter and
my business,” Gonzalez-Alcantar says. “I remember watching YouTube videos while I breastfed her. I’m taking notes with my left hand and thinking, ‘You must be crazy!’
”Crazy to take on so much at once? Maybe. Inspired? Definitely. “Learning to code and developing this business gave me a platform to tell my story and connect kids and families,” she says. Her desire to create connections to modern learning resources for students and families also led to her co-founding Border Kids Code, a startup dedicated to increasing upward social mobility by engaging children of color with technology learning experiences. That led to a connection with Code the Town, a partnership with the Mission Economic Development Corp. Those roads eventually brought her to the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“I had no intention of leaving public education, but I was approached with this opportunity,” she says. “At the time, I had no idea what potential the Boys & Girls Clubs had, what we could leverage in the Valley and in our community, but once I did, I was all in. I realized that I had a lot to give and to serve in my community with what I learned at Texas State.”
In her work today, as in her life, Gonzalez-Alcantar lives by a new mantra: Deliberate actions fulfill the mission. It helps her focus on being mindful and purposeful in all you do.
“I feel very responsible for my community and I feel extremely responsible to move people forward,” she says. “It all stems from this idea that I have. I believe one person can really change the world and I try to live that out every single day.” ✪