28 Feb Boettcher Scholar’s Journey Leads from Peace Corps to Warner Brothers
Gina Gonzales-Wagerman’s life has been defined by seizing opportunity. As a result, her journey has led to diverse pursuits ranging from teaching primary school in Bulgaria to working on marketing for popular TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. These experiences have opened many doors for Gina; much the same way that opening the letter informing her that she had won the Boettcher Scholarship set her on the path for a lifetime of opportunity.
Gina, a 2000 Boettcher Scholar from Pueblo Central High School, attended Colorado State University with her scholarship. Though she began in mechanical engineering, she soon shifted to a major that allowed her to combine her interests in math and drawing – fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design.
After graduation, Gina felt the urge to give back through service in some capacity – a common desire among Boettcher Scholars who are selected in part for their strong service ethic.
“I applied for the Peace Corps, and the process took about six months, so I had forgotten all about it,” Gina said. “Then, I got this call [when I was] coming out of a theater after a movie, and they asked, ‘are you ready to do your duty to your country?’ I was wondering who it was, and they said ‘this is the Peace Corps! We have a project for you in five weeks, are you ready’?”
Gina moved back home, packed up, and left for Bulgaria, where she taught primary school English and started an after-school sports program.
Her experience in the Peace Corps prompted a desire to become further involved in international development, leading her to pursue a graduate degree in global marketing communications and advertising from Emerson College in Boston.
There, Gina heard a guest lecture from chief marketing officer from Warner Bros. speak as a guest lecturer. She followed up with the speaker and ended up receiving an internship with Warner in Burbank, California. That internship set the path for her career.
“I started at Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Marketing as an intern graphic designer,” Gina said. “I basically started there, worked many different positions, and, after 10 years, I am a director here.”
As director of creative services, Gina works on marketing for various Warner Bros. television shows, including Ellen, The Big Bang Theory and Arrow. One of her favorite moments with Warner Bros. was yet another instance in which she grabbed an opportunity that allowed her to combine her passions – training people in Ethiopia on how to start a radio program and market it.
“This opportunity was really exciting, because I was able to do international development, marketing, and graphic design all at once,” Gina said. “I always battle with myself because I’m working in an entertainment company, which is basically the opposite of international development, but I do think that these opportunities are there for overlap. And if they are not, you can make them for yourself.”
Being a Boettcher Scholar has not only taught Gina the power of pursuing opportunity, but also the importance of giving back. Whether through mentoring a high school student through Warner Bros.’ volunteer branch, serving as a running mentor with her running club, or hosting a writing club with her husband, Gina values investing in others to help them actualize their potential, just as the Boettcher Foundation has done in her own life.