A&M-SA fall commencement reflects decade of growth and impact - Largest graduating class wraps up 10th anniversary, alumni reach milestone

By University Communications

Tuesday, 12 17 2019

Mom & Son graduate together to get their BS in Criminology degrees

SAN ANTONIO — This week, Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA) will set several records when over 850 members of the Class of 2019 graduate during the fall commencement at 3:30 p.m., Dec. 17 at Freeman Coliseum. This brings the total number of graduates for the year to 1,748 - the largest graduating class in the University’s history and a milestone for the alumni network, which will expand to over 12,000. The event also marks the conclusion of a year-long celebration of the University’s 20th anniversary as an A&M System Center and 10th anniversary as a standalone institution.

Dr. Frank L. Madla III, son of Sen. Frank L. Madla, Jr., the visionary who led the efforts to establish a public university to serve South San Antonio, will address the graduates. Madla, a founding member of the A&M-SA Foundation, is a hospitalist for Wellmed Medical Group in San Antonio, specializing in internal medicine.

Throughout the year, the A&M-SA community has commemorated the University’s trajectory over the past decade as the fastest-growing institution in the A&M System as it undergoes comprehensive expansion, including the new construction of a $25 million academic hall. In just the past several years, a state of the art science and technology building and the first residence hall were built. Continued growth, combined with high-quality academic achievements and experiential learning opportunities, makes A&M-SA a driver in community collaborations and has garnered the University national recognition for its leadership as a Military Embracing™ university.

Veteran graduate
A&M-SA has one of the largest military student populations in San Antonio. This fall, there are 84 student veterans and active military graduating, including Army veteran Adan Garcia, who is receiving his Bachelor of Arts in History with History Teacher Certification, Social Studies Composite. Garcia spends time volunteering with Conjunto Heritage Taller, teaching children to play the accordion. Garcia is one of over 1,000 A&M-SA students who worked in the community by giving back through volunteering of service and talents. That adds up to an amazing 9,000 hours of service with 70 community partners.

Computer Science summa cum laude graduate
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Artem Skitenko, a summa cum laude graduate, says he’s looking forward to applying what he’s learned. He is particularly proud of being part of a group of computer science majors at A&M-SA who founded the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) Chapter and the National Cyber Security Student Association (NCSA), both officially recognized organizations. Skitenko already has one of the highest tech in-demand jobs of 2019 waiting for him when he graduates. Through networking opportunities in the industry and through his affiliation with the University, he met some amazing people and his future employer. “The more you can put into the community, the more the community will notice you,” explained Skitenko. He is set to start his new job as a software engineer with a leading international video technology company in January.

Mom and son graduate together

Transfer students, Simone Lawrence and her son Myles Montana will walk the stage together to receive their bachelor’s degrees in criminology. “We could have gone to UTSA, but my son and I chose A&M-SA because of the family atmosphere and the positive environment,” explains Lawrence who is also a veteran. “A&M-SA has a small student-to-teacher ratio and we really wanted a personal connection with the instructors, rather than being in a large, 500-seat, auditorium-style classroom. Attending A&M-SA has been a wonderful experience, and we are so excited about graduating together.”

Since A&M-SA became a standalone institution 10 years ago, the University has rapidly evolved to become an integral part of the future of the City of San Antonio, Bexar County and the region.

For more information on the ceremony or to cover the event, contact Cleo Garcia at 210-722-7944 or email cgarcia2@tamusa.edu.

Commencement speakers and guests include Texas A&M San Antonio Foundation representatives, Texas A&M University System and Board of Regents, the Hon. Frank J. Corte, Jr., former member Texas State of Representatives, District 122, Col. USMC (Ret.), Dr. Carolyn W. Green, former executive director for Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center San Antonio and Cresencio Davila, student regent emeritus, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, inaugural Student Government president, Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a standalone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA) is a comprehensive, four-year public university that reflects the culturally diverse, heritage-rich community it serves. Situated on nearly 700 acres in South San Antonio, A&M-SA is a Military Embracing institution offering more than 40 undergraduate programs and 14 graduate programs to nearly 6,700 students. A&M-SA holds the HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) designation. Visit tamusa.edu for more information. The University is ranked 35th in the nation by Military Times for Best for Vets: Colleges. For more information about A&M-SA’s military affairs program, visit tamusa.edu/militaryaffairs.