by ALEX PEREZ//Feature Editor
[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjunction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]
From the windy city of Lubbock, Terry Hill energized his passion and began his journey to his dream job with help from South Plains College.
Hill graduated from SPC in 1980 with an Associate of Science Degree in Science and soon after began at Texas Tech University to finish off his education with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology.
Hill had always been a part of the West Texas community, as he was born in Lubbock and then moved to Levelland with his family when he was in sixth grade. Hill’s father worked in the oil industry and moved the family closer to work.
Having grown up so close to the campus, South Plains was a no-brainer for Hill to start off his higher education. He recalls his fun times in West Texas as a young, but determined, college student who took an interest in chemistry and engineering.
“South Plains let me see the world was a bigger place,” says Hill.
Being a part of a community-based student body helped Hill grow, not only as a student but as a person too. During his time on the Levelland campus, he served for many student organizations, including Student Government. Hill was a senator for the student body during his sophomore year at SPC before he transferred to Texas Tech.
He describes his involvement at SPC as, “Not just academics.” He states that his experience in the classroom was more than just the curriculum. He also learned life lessons that would follow him and help him into a successful career.
“Obviously when you are 16, 17, 18, you don’t realize the affect of your education,” Hill said. “ I had a couple of really good professors that taught me how to study and learn.”
Hill bonded with a couple of his professors who kept him going and motivated him to succeed. Hill said that Bob Beck and Richard James were the two biggest influencers, the ones who really pushed Hill to achieve his goal and then some.
By Hill’s definition, college is all about learning and then studying what you learn to then put it in action. With the tools to study and learn, Hill was set for a great career path with the help of his professors at SPC.
At Texas Tech, he began to working for David Miller, who owned a medical distribution company. Hill wanted to either be a chemical engineer or work in the medical field. He ended up really liking the distribution industry and decided to make a career out of it. After graduating, Hill put off medical school, moved to Dallas and began working for a distribution company.
Since then, Hill has relocated to Seattle and worked at a distributing company called Univar for about 30 years, before retiring. He now runs his own distribution and consulting company, APEX.
At Univar, Hill started out as the regional vice president until 2002, when he was promoted to president and senior vice president of U.S. operations. Hill had this title for about five years, and he was in charge of more than 100 locations across the country. He also created and built key distribution areas around the country.
In 2007, Hill’s life got really exciting when he got the position as chief commercial officer and then executive vice president of industry relations. During this time, Hill had the opportunity to really explore the world, as he was studying the cultures and commerce of many other countries.
“ A boy from Lubbock and Levelland literally got to see the world,” says Hill. “They were all a little it different,” Hill explained, “but interesting to watch. China’s evolution of their economy and Europe had a lot of history and cultural differences.”
Hill was given the opportunity of a lifetime to explore the world and help create growth strategies for countries such as China, Mexico and Brazil.
After having a great career at Univar, Hill retired in August 2015. Although he is retired, he is still working on his own company, consulting with companies and organizations.
Hill is taking it easy and living by his motto, “No wasted days.” With the news that his wife of 32 years has an incurable form of lymphoma, Hill and their four children stay close to home. Hill’s wife is now in remission, which their whole family is grateful for. Working with the marriage ministry at his local church, Hill and his family have found content in their life.
Hill continues to get involved in the community and continues to give back to SPC with his scholarship for students who are transferring to Baylor University. He also is on the board for Chemical Educational Foundation, which provides chemistry for grade and middle school-age children.
Encouraging education is his hidden passion. You Be the Chemist is an organization that is a competition that is structured like the national spelling bee. Instead of words, there are chemistry problems, with the winner getting a trip to the White House. Through this organization, as well as the multiple foundations Hill is a part of, he has helped millions of children get into chemistry and biology.
Hill credits SPC for helping him begin his journey to a wonderful career.
“No matter where you started life, it is a great adventure,” said Hill. ”Take full advantage of every opportunity and every interaction.”
[Photo courtesy of Terry Hill]