A good friend, boss and mentor to Juan Solis told him he should go to work in Gridley since he never shuts up about being a "Gridley Bulldog" since graduating in 2001.
After spending years working in health care, Solis has done just that, he is now working in the town he and his wife Maribel grew up in and are raising their two daughters.
Juan is the son of Juan and Juana Solis and brother to Anna, who all live in Gridley. He married Maribel Martinez who graduated Gridley High in 1999, and the two have been together 16 years, married 12.
Daughter Sophia is seven and goes to Wilson Elementary and Victoria, four, goes to Westside Preschool. Solis enjoys spending time with his wife and kids or coaching soccer, something he has enjoyed here for 15 years, since his nephew Roberto was five-years-old. Playing varsity soccer four years at Gridley High is a fond memory for Juan who still coaches although Roberto is now 18 and attends Chico State.
"I love coaching soccer and that time of year," he stated. Both his daughters play soccer and go to Barefoot Dance Company.
Because Maribel's parents also live in Gridley they spend a lot of time with both sets of parents who vie for babysitting duty the one day a week Maribel works at Rideout as a nurse. Each Grandmother gets a half day. Though he is finishing his Masters Degree with just three classes and a thesis left, Solis tries to spend as much time as he can with his family when he isn't reading or doing homework.
Solis left Rideout Hospital's finance department after 10 years, the past three-and-a-half as Director of Financial Operations to be able to work in Gridley. He confesses he had been watching job offerings posted for Orchard Hospital over the years but the timing was never right, thinking he wanted to stay in the health care field.
"I knew working in Gridley would make me happy. I thought I would continue in health care but my mentor started talking to me last year about what I really wanted to do. Opportunities don't come up that often and when I heard about the Finance Director's position for the City of Gridley from my boss he thought I should apply to fulfill my dream of coming home to work," Solis stated.
Solis explained that his boss heard about the job in Gridley from his friend Matt Michaelis who had left the position to go to to work for Sutter County and recommended Solis apply.
Solis currently serves as the Auditor for Gridley Elementary Schools PTA after serving as Treasurer.
Solis is very honest and forthright about his beginnings in Gridley when he was just 12-years-old and and a seventh grader at Sycamore School.
He fondly remembers his teachers and fellow students embracing him, wholeheartedly accepting him when he and his family moved here, living at the Labor Camp for three-and-a-half years.
"I never felt a disconnect. We lived in the Ford Avenue Apartments for awhile before we qualified for CHIP Housing in 2002," he stated.
While a student at Chico State, Solis held down three jobs to be able to afford his classes. He worked 30-35 hours at a spa manufacturing plant in Oroville, tutored and worked as a teacher's aide. He explained he had to take his education seriously because his parents were each holding down two jobs.
As the first member of his very large family to go to college, he became focused his second semester, studying 10 hours a day on top of his classes and three jobs. His Mom comes from a family with 11 siblings who all live in Gridley, Biggs or Live Oak.
He jokingly refers to every small child's birthday party as a family reunion noting his own daughter's birthday will include 60 family members this year.
While he was learning to focus so strenuously he found it easier because Maribel was going through the rigorous nursing program and he felt he had to match the effort she was making. They both knew they had to finish their education for their careers.
Graduating Chico State with a degree in Finance and a degree in Economics Magna Cum Laude didn't come easy as Solis explained he had hit a wall in his Philosophy class his first semester. He had to work very hard to receive a B grade and with some goading from his professor, made 57 straight A's after that. He took this same professors class the next semester and got an A because she was rough on him and he had to persevere.
Now, he wishes he had taken the time to take at least one fun course while he worked so hard at Chico State always hitting the books.
It took five years for both degrees and non stop hard classes and Solis wishes he had enjoyed the journey more. He didn't take the time to enjoy Chico or his friends for four years.
He went to work in San Ramon at Chevron for his first job which lasted six months as a paid professional internship. When he was offered a job he had to turn it town because he could not handle the travel that far each day. While working in San Ramon, his friends there couldn't believe he had never gone to a bar in Chico, well known as the party capital.
"I was always in the library. I wish I had seen what it was all about sometimes!" he laughed.
Leaving Chevron in San Ramon, Solis went to work for Hewlett Packard in Roseville for two years as a financial analyst. He was still traveling but not as far.
Three days a week he would hop on one of the two corporate jets in Lincoln to be flown to their corporate headquarters in Cupertino to work at just 22-years-old.
"I was over this within three months. This was not me, flying every other day, having to drive home," stated the man who can happily walk to his office at Gridley's City Hall if he wants to from his home just a few blocks away.
When he left Hewlett Packard he thought he was ready to get out of finance and was accepted at the McGeorge School of Law but he did not go.
While at a Rideout company party with his wife who had worked there six months, he met the CFO of Rideout who told him to come see him the next day and offered him a job there.
The Solis' purchased their first home in Gridley once they both went to work at Rideout and ten years later he states he owes Rideout a lot.
"The support was amazing. I am very thankful for that opportunity," Solis said.
Reminiscing how his local teachers pushed him to do better he remarked, "What better way to honor that than to be back here?"
The Solis' are happy to be raising their daughters in Gridley where they both grew up and know the schools and the town so well.
"Because of our Police Department we can feel safe with our kids at a safe environment at our elementary schools and then the high school," he stated.
Knowing his next level of education is important as he serves as a role model for his own children and his cousins, Solis keeps a 4.0 GPA and is pushing himself to maintain that level through graduation.
For his Masters he is going through a much bigger school, the University of Memphis with classes half online and traveling there three times a year to take tests. He will graduate in late May and will pitch to be a commencement speaker there, a big goal for most.
"I am proud to be a Bulldog and would like to get more involved with the schools once I finish my education. I enjoy volunteering with the PTA," he stated.
Currently, Solis is working with department directors and the finance staff to conduce a fiscal year 2017-2018 mid-year financial update for the Council, outlining the first six months of expenditures and revenues versus the budget.
Solis has nothing but good things to say about the staff at City Hall and how helpful they have been as he learns about government finances.
"They are my resource now 100 percent but I want to be their resource," he stated.