1994 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"If you plant a dream firmly in your consciousness, then you align all of your convictions and your conduct with your dream—the universe cannot deny you."
Terry Giles was born into a loving but financially strapped family in St. Louis, Missouri. His father attempted several businesses, but all were unsuccessful. As a result, the family moved frequently, often to avoid bill collectors. In fact, Giles attended 21 schools in 10 years.
Despite the family's financial adversity, Giles' mother encouraged her son to never give up. "Although she could not always give me the material things she wished she could, she instilled in both my sister and me that through positive thoughts anything could be accomplished," says Giles. "It was probably the greatest gift she could have ever given me. I owe my will and discipline to my mother. Without those tools and her positive-thinking approach to life, I would not have been successful."
In high school, Giles competed in speech and debate. He earned a debate scholarship to the University of California at Fullerton, and went on to earn a law degree from Pepperdine University. He established one of the largest, most successful criminal law firms on the West Coast. He has also had 35 businesses, including Pacific National Bank, and built a small Toyota dealership into the fifth largest in the United States. Currently, Giles Enterprises is the holding company for the family's interests ranging from banking to computer technology to luxury travel accommodations.
Giles serves on the Horatio Alger Association Board of Directors and is chairman of the Scholarship Committee. "My wife Kalli and I have enjoyed our deep involvement with the Scholarship Committee," he says. "To me it is a gift to be able to be involved in some way in the lives of these special young people. My work with the Association has put me into contact with great Americans who I love and respect. Getting the Horatio Alger Award was wonderful, but what I have gotten back in the form of friendships has been rewarding to a degree that is indefinable. I'm lucky to be involved with this organization and to know that I will literally be involved with it for the rest of my life."