Bruce Longaker has been part of the fabric of Chinquapin for the past three decades. He was first introduced to the school through Sten Gustafson and Sofia Adrogué, longtime Chinquapin supporters.
Bruce recognized the level of commitment from Chinquapin leadership and faculty, but he was even more impressed by the students. On his first visit to the school, two students on their way to class stopped by to say hello and introduce themselves to Bruce.
They invited him to sit in on a chemistry experiment they were performing. After observing this class and watching the student interaction, it was clear to Bruce that this school was very special. He knew immediately that he wanted to be directly involved with Chinquapin. In 2000, with the help of Bill and Kathy Heinzerling, he established a four-year scholarship program for four graduating Burrs, and has continued that program over the past twenty years.
Alan Rodriguez (Chinquapin ‘12), learned about the school when Kathy visited Burnett Elementary, where Alan was a 6th grader. Alan was set to attend Milby High School; but his mom encouraged him to apply to Chinquapin. Alan says he was always pretty good at math, but he struggled with his English classes. Alan chose to attend Chinquapin, which proved to be a good decision. Despite some early reservations, and with Bill and Kathy’s belief in him, Alan transformed into a very good student over the years.
Alan and Bruce met in 2009, five years into Bruce’s tenure as a Chinquapin mentor. The two had an instant easy rapport. They attended all of the mentor-mentee outings. Bruce took Alan to Rockets and Astros games; when Bruce came to campus, they’d enjoy a meal, shoot hoops, and just hang out.
Alan played on Chinquapin’s basketball team; Bruce came to almost all of his games and said Alan’s defense and rebounding was good, but his shooting could use some work. Alan challenged Bruce to a free throw shooting contest after one game, and when Bruce made 8 of 10 and won the contest, Alan agreed to work with Bruce on improving his shot!
When it was time to begin looking at colleges, Alan consulted with friends, family, faculty, and Bruce. They kept in close contact while Alan attended UH, majoring in Business Administration/ Accounting. For sure, it was a big jump from a graduating class of fourteen at Chinquapin to a big school like UH, but their strong relationship made it a bit easier for Alan. Even today, Alan is like family to Bruce; they get together often to go to games, discuss business, and even have dinner and an occasional glass of vino!
Today, Alan works as an international tax associate at McDermott International. Just last month he got married. You better believe Bruce was invited.