At Mac, Gilbert finds a second family

A series of adventures, misadventures have brought him here, but he’s not done living, learning


Olivia Capochiano

New security guard Gilbert Harros smiles as students pass him in the hall. “I always say, ‘High school is the best nightmare ever,” Gilbert said.

Olivia Capochiano, staff reporter

Catch Gilbert Harros patrolling the hallways or conversing in the police booth and he’s quick to tell you about high school romance turned sour, dancing the cumbia or how well he can dunk a basketball. Don’t let his laid-back nature fool you though; he may refer to himself by his first name, “Gilbert,” but McCallum’s trusty new campus security guard has already found the perfect balance of seriousness and fun. This is his first year, and yet he never seems awkward or out of place, often shouting greetings to regular hallway wanderers. You might recognize him as the man flaunting rectangular glasses, a wrestling team polo and a phone full of photos of his three dogs.

Harros, oops sorry, Gilbert graduated from Crockett High School with a dream of playing college basketball. He played varsity all four years and describes the sport as “the love of his life.” Being one of the best players at Crockett got him sent to the Great American Shootout, which is just about what it sounds like, a huge tournament where players hope to get signed.

“I went and found out how bad I really was,” Gilbert says. “We lost all of our games.” He thought his dream was out the window until a Colorado college offered him a roster spot. “Boom! My chance was in front of me,” he exclaims, “but I didn’t have the grades.”

If I had just listened and paid attention in school, life could be a lot better.

— Gilbert Harros

Next, he tried the military. The first time he took the ASVAB, he failed.

“I got such a low score that I cried,” he says. “I had to get my life together.”

Gilbert enrolled at ACC and started to get more serious about his coursework. In a moment of redemption, he returned to retake the ASVAB and made a 99, the highest score possible. Still unsatisfied, he revisited the test to make a 110 general technical score, qualifying him for advanced positions.

But misfortune struck when he neglected to announce his heart murmur to the medic, who assumed he was attempting to hide the condition and stamped him unfit for duty.

At just 19, he took a job bartending downtown.

“I met a lot of cool people. The world is so big. I met 50 Cent, Fat Joe, Johnny Manziel…” he trails off, thinking, then says, “It was a good time. So don’t bartend ever.”

Gilbert continued taking classes at ACC while waiting for the Austin Police Department to open up job applications. He describes the length of the 40-page entry form with an exaggerated gesture. He passed the written exam with an 82, sharing that he’s “smart now and studies for tests.” After painstakingly making it through the background check and board interview, for which he even bought a suit, Gilbert was accepted into the police academy. He did amazingly well until he broke his rib.

“I’ll never forget these words from my corporal, he said, ‘Son, I don’t know where you’re going, but good luck.’ Those words live with me. That’s horrible to say to someone who was dedicating their life to become something bigger than themselves.”

When asked if he would go back to the police academy, he retorted, “Have you ever been pepper-sprayed?”

As for his current job as campus security, he considers his biggest responsibility safety.

“It looks like I don’t much, but I do a lot.”

He stresses the importance of community and education and understands the struggles of a high school student.

“You have to build rapport because you have to realize who’s having a bad day, and bad days lead to bad events.”

Gilbert values family the most and says McCallum is his second family. He says family, including his dogs, is his greatest joy in life. Community is everything at McCallum, and he knows it.

It has a lot to do with family. A good home life means you’ll do good in the world.

— Gilbert Harros

“I don’t know everyone, but I know the students who need to be known,” he comments, “and I respect the students that care. I know who I can leave alone and who needs to be talked to. A lot of students who I redirect are good about it, but if you don’t give a damn, those are the kids who get sent to the APs all the time.”

The security guard says he “values education and despises ignorance in a person.” He aims to become more educated and plans to go to ACC again to get a degree.

“If I had just listened and paid attention in school, life could be a lot better,” Gilbert ruminates. “I was so stupid.”

Gilbert can offer you many stories of the importance of education that he’s learned from his days at Crockett. He thinks that home life is extremely influential in a student’s performance.

“It has a lot to do with family. A good home life means you’ll do good in the world,” he says.

Gilbert feels sorry for his childhood friends who didn’t have the positive role models he had. Gilbert aims to bring that knowledge to McCallum by being understanding and empathetic.

Although Gilbert enjoys being a security guard, he dreams of bigger things, specifically, being a firefighter.

“Hell yeah I love this job,” Gilbert says, “but I don’t wanna be in high school forever.”

Olivia Capochiano
Gilbert Harros patrols the main hall during first period. As security guard and hall monitor, he watches for both internal and external threats. “I’m aware, but I know to pick my fights here. Some kids are having really bad days and don’t need to be in class at that moment,” Gilbert said.
Photo by Olivia Capochiano.