A&M-San Antonio Honors Student Achievements

By University Communications

Wednesday, 05 12 2021

SAN ANTONIO – Even before attending Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Robin Randall knew how to balance a busy life. This mother of eight – and grandmother of 18 – is also a proud A&M-San Antonio graduate, earning her bachelor’s in Business Administration, with a minor in Human Resources. Randall was one of two “Senior of Distinction” award recipients at an April 30, 2021, ceremony honoring students for their contributions to the University through their campus involvement and community service. The award honors individuals who exemplify the Jaguar Spirit of courage and service above self.

Among her campus volunteer efforts, Randall served as a lead ambassador for the University and president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and was the founding Historian of the Tau Sigma Honor Society chapter on campus. She also served as an unofficial mentor to other students.

“Some of the younger students helped me with technology, and I could help them by sharing about my life experiences,” says Randall. In fact, Randall is affectionately known as “Mama Jag” to many of the younger students who were often showered with her supportive parental attention and guidance. “When I first started at A&M-San Antonio, I thought I would just focus on my classes and leave involvement to others, but I realized I needed to get involved as well to make the most of my college experience,” says Randall.

A retired U.S. Army veteran, Randall is also among the roughly one in six (18 percent) of A&M-San Antonio students who report a personal or immediate family member affiliation with a branch of the U.S. military. A December 2020 A&M-San Antonio graduate, Randall is currently employed as an HR Specialist at Randolph Air Force Base. Since graduating, Randall has maintained her connection to campus, among other things participating in an online crocheting class with other alumni during the pandemic.

“I took a different path than many, living my life first, starting a family and having a career in the military before thinking about school,” says Randall. “I believe college should be a choice. No one should feel forced to go. I tried it when I was younger, but it worked for me to do my life in a different order. When I decided to go to college, it was because I wanted to go. When you do something by choice, you make the most of it.”

Giving Others a Professional Boost

This year, the competition was too close to honor only one “Senior of Distinction.” Karissa Mitchem also received the top award for her focus on helping others. Graduating this spring with a bachelor’s in Business Administration in Accounting, Mitchem served as a transfer student mentor since the program’s inception. When she recognized the need for a student organization for accounting and finance majors on campus, she took on the responsibility of establishing a Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants chapter and then served as its first president.

For Mitchem, college has been a time to find herself. She transferred from Northwest Vista with an associate’s degree in fine arts. “I actually changed my major three times and took a four-year break before coming to A&M-San Antonio.” In the interim while working at a credit union, she rediscovered her knack for numbers – having always done well with math in high school – and decided a degree in accounting would expand her opportunities to still work within the arts or other sectors of interest.

In addition to launching a campus chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants – which grew in membership from about 10 to 34 over the course of two semesters – Mitchem took it upon herself to develop a CPA exam requirements presentation. This entailed compiling information from various state agencies and professional resources to develop a helpful guide for her fellow students, including specific information about which A&M-San Antonio courses would be most beneficial to prepare for the exam. “I’m really proud of putting this together for others who will benefit from having this information all in one place,” says Mitchem.

A Ringing Endorsement

In other kudos and accolades, the A&M-San Antonio spring 2021 University Ring Award recipients each received the class ring of their choice based on their hard work, success and devotion to the University. Three Jaguar students received Ring Awards this semester, including Isabella Rodriguez, graduating with a bachelor’s of arts in Communications; Ariana Paniagua, graduating with a bachelor’s of science in Interdisciplinary Studies; and Zachary Bullard, who will graduate with a bachelor’s of science in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Once he graduates, Bullard is looking to transition into teaching. His essay submission for the Ring Award highlighted his grit and perseverance, including the personal challenges he has overcome as a recovering alcoholic. Now nine years sober, Bullard has through his many hours of community service worked to encourage others struggling with addiction to develop healthy relationships with individuals who can support their recovery.

What he appreciates most about A&M-San Antonio is how the University has allowed him to grow and learn at his own pace. In the same way that he remembers his father wearing his class ring with pride, Bullard wants his daughter to be encouraged by his ring. “By wearing my ring, it is part of my mindset all day long that I am a college graduate. I have accomplished this huge thing. To be able to say that is a big deal, and it changes your outlook and gives you confidence that you can succeed at anything.

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Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a stand-alone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio 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-San Antonio is a Military Embracing™ institution offering 30 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees to nearly 6,800 students. The University is home to the Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders and the Cyber Engineering Technology/Cyber Security Research Center. A&M-San Antonio holds the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Military Times ranks the University No. 35 in the nation for “Best for Vets: Colleges.” Visit tamusa.edu for more information. #onamission