SHS class influenced grad’s career choice

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It was an announcing gig Henry Minitrez, Socorro High Class of 1989 graduate, has been working toward for over 25 years.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army: Henry Minitrez, a 1989 Socorro High School graduate, serves as the Master of Ceremonies at the 239th Army Birthday Ball in Washington D.C. June 21.

Three weeks ago, on June 21, Minitrez took to the stage as Master of Ceremonies at the 239th Army Birthday Ball in Washington D.C. in front of the Army’s highest ranking officials, lawmakers and a crowd of thousands.

The achievement was just the latest in a long line. Last year he emceed a small, private event at the White House attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I can’t describe how that felt,” Minitrez said. “A boy from a small New Mexico town, addressing the audience with Mrs. Obama just feet away.”

It’s a career that began when the teenaged Minitrez signed up for Nick Fleming’s communications science program at Socorro High, providing sound and announcing services at events in and around Socorro.

“As an SHS student, I still hadn’t figured out what career I wanted to go into,” Minitrez said. “It was literally staring me in the face the whole time, a career in broadcasting and public speaking, even though I was the shyest, quietest kid in Socorro.”

Fleming, retired from teaching and now a Socorro City Councilor, said he has closely followed Minitrez’s advancements in broadcasting and public speaking over the years.

“When Henry started out in the CS program he showed a natural ability and a desire to learn,” Fleming said. “He followed through on whatever projects he took upon himself and followed directions extremely well.”

“He was a leader all the time I had him in class,” Fleming said.

Aside from Fleming’s leadership, Minitrez said English and drama teacher, the late Carol Stone, once told him he had a voice for radio.

Even after joining the U.S. Army he kept up his connection to Fleming’s communications program.

“I was stationed in Oklahoma, so on every holiday and every leave I took from the Army, I’d make the 11-hour drive home to do two things, visit family and help with CS,” Minitrez said. “It was such a constructive program for so many youths, providing purpose, motivation, responsibility and individual growth. What a great stepping stone it was for so many of us.”

He added his parents, Gilbert and the late Clara Minitrez, encouraged his work with Fleming’s CS program and ultimately urged him to step out of his comfort zone.

“They knew what a positive impact it had on me, so they stood behind me and pushed me to work harder at it,” he said.

As an Army staff sergeant, Minitrez spent three tours in Europe on the Armed Forces Network stationed in Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfort and Bosnia.

“I served as an on-air personality at each station, hosting both radio and television shows, as well as all positions behind the camera; producer, editor, camera operator, writer – everything,” he said. “What a great experience.”

Over the years in the Army he racked up awards and recognition, having served both as a soldier overseas in Germany, Macedonia and Bosnia, and now in Washington, D.C. as a government civilian where he was handpicked to perform as Master of Ceremonies at this year’s Army Ball.

“In 2006 I attended my first Army Ball. I sat there in the audience thinking to myself, ‘I’ve been emceeing events all over the Pentagon, I would love to emcee the Army’s biggest event,’” Minitrez said.

It took him eight years, volunteering to narrate every event that came along at the Pentagon including promotion ceremonies, award ceremonies, retirement ceremonies and commemorations. He lent his voice to commercials, PSAs and even documentaries, all in an attempt to keep moving up the ladder to the bigger national level events.

Minitrez said he hopes his story helps other Socorro youth who might be in the same situation he was as a shy Socorro High teenager.

“Find something that makes you happy, make it yours and keep moving forward,” he said. “It may not be today or tomorrow, but you’ll get there. Good things come to those who go after them.”

His entire family still lives in Socorro, San Antonio, San Acacia, Magdalena and Albuquerque.

Minitrez said no matter where his assignments have taken him, “the rest of the world just doesn’t know how to cook chile. Nor has any place I’ve ever lived been able to beat a Buckhorn burger, the food at Sophia’s, El Camino, Armijos or the Crane.”