Meet Ernest Bromley, ’78, ’80. He’s 64 years old and plans to retire from Bromley, the advertising agency he founded, to pursue a Ph.D.—but not before he completes a 375-mile bicycle race around Puerto Rico. He’s also one of UTSA’s first students.
“I’ve always been this way,” he said. “I’ve been basically hard-charged for a really long time. I never really had a childhood, that’s why I play hard and sleep fast. My battle cry is work hard, play hard, sleep fast and I haven’t ever really slowed down.”
Bromley was born in Schenectady, New York with Puerto Rican and Canadian Anglo heritage but grew up partly in Mexico City, prior to moving to San Antonio as a teenager.
“That transition really sparked my curiosity about language and culture,” he said. “A lot of my Mexican-American friends spoke beautiful Spanish, some didn’t speak a lick of it and others were speaking a dialect I couldn’t even recognize.”
As an ad man, culture is important to Bromley.
“I grew up in a world where, in marketing, everything was in its own silo,” he said. “There was this thing called the general market, which was a polite way of saying the Anglo-American market. Then there was the African-American market, the Hispanic market, etc. But in the end, the general market ruled the roost.”
Now, in 2015, Bromley is wondering who the general market is these days. That’s part of the reason why he’s planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in consumer behavior.
“I want to earn it,” he said. “I want to go get it.”
Bromley earned his B.A. in political science from UTSA in 1978 and his MBA in business administration in 1980. At his graduation, he was in awe of the Ph.D. robes and the distinctiveness of the different colleges each professor represented.
“I thought back then, ‘I’m gonna go back and get one of those,’” he said. “Over time, through my career, I cemented that thought as a great career option for when I need to slow down.”
But slowing down isn’t quite in Bromley’s wheelhouse. As the oldest of four, he helped support his family in his youth.
“We really didn’t have much,” he said. “We didn’t know how poor we were until we moved here from Mexico. I was a teenager and discovered I had to work.”
He flipped burgers and delivered newspapers, doing everything he could to help make sure his family could eat. Eventually, he helped his mother stay afloat by taking over the household finances.
Bromley couldn’t afford to attend college in San Antonio, because before UTSA opened, all the options were private schools.
“I waited for UTSA to open,” he said. “It provided affordable education to someone like me, and I wasn’t unique.”
In 1975, Bromley officially became a Roadrunner.
“There were only three buildings,” he said. “The library was still being constructed, but the Sombrilla was complete by the time I left.”
Even though in those days there were no residence halls, Bromley said student life on campus was vibrant. He founded the Young Democrats and helped write the charter to found the Student Government.
“We kinda ran the roost,” he said.
Since he graduated in 1980, Bromley has remained a part of the UTSA community and continues to support the university.
“I feel a sense of thankfulness,” he said. “I’ve set up various scholarships for people who were in my particular circumstance. I think just because you’re disadvantaged doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t give you a break.”