Graduates of CNM: Jose Javier Horta

Jose is a veteran and long-time educator who’s worked in Mexico and the United States. Now he’s onto a third career with the help of CNM
September 14, 2021

If you asked Jose Javier Horta, who goes by JJ, to give a brief synopsis of his career he would reply that it’s nearly impossible. He’s done so many things that his resume easily stretches to multiple pages. 

“I’m 50 years old and I’m very grateful for everything I’ve been able to do,” he says “I’ve led a full life and I feel very blessed.” 

The short version of his biography goes like this. He was born in Los Angeles, moved to Mexico until he was 18, and then spent four years in the United States Army as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Specialist and Paratrooper. He also did a tour during Desert Storm and was stationed all over the world. 

After the Army he got a teaching license in California and then moved back to Mexico where he spent 19 years in the state of Aguascalientes. He ran a youth non-profit, got his teaching and administration license and eventually landed as a high school principal at a school near a cartel hotspot. One time the cartel demanded a payoff and he refused, instead insisting they pay him so he could improve his school. Eventually, he became the superintendent for the entire state and was in charge of 120,000 students and 7,000 teachers. 

Then the government changed and JJ found himself out of his appointed job. He and his family moved to Ohio and JJ worked briefly as a train conductor but hated the cold weather and felt out of place.

“Ohio didn’t have enough tortillas and chile,” he jokes.

Eventually, at the urging of a former Army colleague, he and his family landed in Albuquerque in 2019. He quickly found his way to CNM and the Veterans Resource Center (VRC), which helped him enroll in the Spanish Interpreter program. His wife also enrolled in the Art program and his son started in Culinary Arts. His daughter went to UNM where she’s studying music. 

“I’m really thankful for the VRC because they made it super easy to transition back into school,” JJ says. “It was obvious that they cared and wanted me to succeed.”

JJ says he decided on Spanish Interpretation, and soon a Masters in Linguistics from UNM, because he’s seen how important the Spanish language has become in the United States since he first lived here. It’s the fastest growing language in the country and he wants to be front and center as part of the transition. 

“The growth of Spanish is helping us develop new identities as citizens and as a society and country,” he says. “It’s been really fun to see the growth and I want to see where this will take us.”

JJ doesn’t know exactly where he’ll be in five years, but he hopes to be making a difference here in the United States and maybe traveling the world as a teacher. Right now he says he’s just thankful he found CNM and was able to start a whole new career, even at age 50.

“My advice to anyone who’s interested in learning is to enroll in school right now, don’t waste your time,” he says. “We all have room to improve and grow as humans and it’s really what we’re supposed to be doing.”