Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch
US Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), Motivational Speakers, BS 1976
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, is a 1976 law enforcement graduate of Hardin-Simmons University. She earned her commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army through the Hardin-Simmons University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and became the first woman commissioned as an ROTC officer in the state of Texas.
Consuelo was born in 1954 in Laredo, Texas, growing up in a small barrio along the U.S./Mexican border. Her immigrant parents, though unable to provide material wealth to their 10 children, gave Consuelo the valuable lessons needed to overcome the challenges of poverty, discrimination, and illiteracy. She became rich in culture, tradition, values, and faith.
Consuelo, a strong proponent of life-skills and mentorship, credits a "social experiment" at HSU for giving her the skills and knowledge to succeed. In 1973, Dr. Julian Bridges, then professor of social work, led a program that brought 30 disadvantaged Hispanic youth to HSU as students. Consuelo was among the group of poor, non-English speaking students who were the beneficiaries of Dr. Bridges' encouragement, guidance, and compassion. He helped them find the strength and resolve to stay at the University despite the alien environment they first encountered.
When she felt other students didn't want or understand her, when lessons in an unfamiliar language seemed too difficult, and when hope for changing her life seemed out of reach, Consuelo diligently persevered.
Thinking it was a social club, she joined the University's ROTC program because they seemed to have a lot of fun. The yelling didn't bother her; she says it reminded her of her mother at home. After four years of monumentally hard work, and more than a few tears, the proud new graduate was eligible for a commission in the U.S. Army. She went on to become the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army.
Kickbusch holds an advanced degree in cybernetics from San Jose State University in California. Her military education includes the Army Command and General Staff College and Department of Defense Program Management Executive Course.
In 1996, Consuelo was selected out of 26,000 candidates to assume a command post, which would put her on track for the rank of General Officer. She respectfully declined the honor, retired as a 20-year veteran, and founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. Her work with EAS actualizes her personal dream and mission of preparing tomorrow's leaders today.
Since retiring from the army, Consuelo has chosen a path of teaching—reinforcing her belief that a nation with strong leaders will be globally competitive. She has spoken to many youth and parents, managers, executives, and employees. She has been recognized nationally for her selfless devotion and dedication toward improving the lives of children who are dealing with low self-esteem, crisis of identity, poverty, gang involvement, and lack of education.
Her dedication to the underprivileged youth of America has led her to work with over one million children and their parents and with educators. Consuelo encounters some of the roughest neighborhoods, similar to the one she lived in, as she inspires the youth growing up in the barrios she visits.
Calling the children "diamonds in the rough," she encourages them to believe they can make their dreams come true, to embrace hope, to take charge of their lives, to make a real difference in their families and communities, and to follow a disciplined road map to success. Relating her life experiences offers hope and motivation to the disadvantaged. She also has worked extensively to help meet the needs of the homeless, assisting impoverished communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
Consuelo has produced a well-received video titled Porque No—Why Not? which provides practical techniques to develop self-esteem and achieve personal growth. Her first book, Journey to the Future, was published in November 2003.
Her military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and the Overseas Service Medal. She has received numerous civic awards, including Toastmaster's Inc. Leadership Award, San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame, and Texas Women's Forum.
She was the 1993 National Image Inc. Uniformed Services recipient for significant contributions to the nation in civil and human rights, race relations, equal opportunity, human resources, and public service.
Hispanic Business Magazine recently named Consuelo in their list of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America. In conjunction with the U.S. Army, Hispanic Magazine bestowed the Latina Leadership Excellence Award for her youth service and military accomplishments. Saturn and Glamour magazines honored Consuelo with the 2002 Women at Their Best Award, given to the top 100 women in the country. Also in 2002, the National Association of Women Business Owners bestowed their Entrepreneurial Spirit Award recognizing her mentoring spirit.
In 2003, Hardin-Simmons recognized Consuelo's personal and professional accomplishments with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
While she tirelessly works to provide resources for others, Consuelo is also raising her own children with her husband, retired Lieutenant Colonel David Kickbusch. They have five daughters, Kenitha, Alicia, Consuelo, and twins, Dolores and Delilah.
By challenging the untapped potential of children whose only flaw is to have been born into poverty and ignorance, Consuelo has risen to the highest ranks of those who serve. It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch into the HSU Hall of Leaders.