Meet Juan Sandoval, REAP Hispanic Business Center Director

I grew up in the 3rd largest city in Venezuela. When I moved to Norfolk, Nebraska in 1999, it was a bit of a culture shock. But I love that everyone in town knows who I am. Everywhere I go, I run into a friend.

I have learned to appreciate the little things in life. When I’m driving through Nebraska, I take a moment every day to look at the beautiful prairies, small farms, red barns, soy and corn fields, feedlots, and many brick buildings dating from the 1800-1900s. In all, Rural America is a great place to live.

My mother is a social worker. Growing up I saw her interact with all kinds of people. That’s what makes me so outgoing. It all comes back to helping the community.

I really enjoy conducting training for new business people - like computer classes. It’s great seeing someone start with zero skills and then “friend” me on Facebook by the time the class is finished.

REAP has been a great school. At the Hispanic Business Center, we see all kind of businesses from restaurants to construction at different stages. They have limitations, but all have a common goal to be successful. For me, each and every business I help is like my own, so I want the best for it.

My passions are food and baseball. I will try any kind of food. I do a lot of traveling with my job, which is the perfect excuse to taste the surprisingly-diverse culinary offerings of rural Nebraska.

Being a Venezuelan native, I grew up with a passion for baseball. It’s like growing up in Boston or New York. (I’m a Red Sox Fan, so Boston has to be first!) As a kid, I listened to baseball games on the radio every night (enough so my mom would go to bed at 8:00 pm).

I listened to games as I was doing homework. When my team was playing, 70% of me was in that game. For those who may be thinking I did poorly in school because of that – think again. I graduated with honors!

Feature image: Juan (far left) stands proudly with graduates of the REAP Hispanic Business Center training, "Business Class Basics." Adriana Dungan (far right), a former HBC director, facilitated the class.