Texas A&M University-San Antonio Seniors Anticipate Life After Graduation

By University Communications

Thursday, 05 13 2021

SAN ANTONIO – More than 800 Texas A&M University-San Antonio seniors are projected to graduate spring 2021 and summer 2021, and more than 500 are scheduled to follow the commencement tradition of walking the stage this weekend (May 15 and 16). Among those graduating are Taryn Deppe, who couldn’t be more excited to wear her first-generation stole to collect her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Joining her will be Gustavo De La Fuente, also a Psychology major, with a minor in Criminology. He recently finished an internship for the Office of U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar. Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing senior Julianne Garcia will have her sister and mother in attendance to celebrate her degree completion.

In looking ahead to graduation ceremonies, A&M-San Antonio President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson praised the Class of 2021 for its resilience during an extraordinary year. “In the midst of a deadly pandemic, our students remained steadfast during a time of great uncertainty. They focused on their studies and juggled the responsibilities of academics, family and work,” said Teniente-Matson. “A&M-San Antonio graduates are now even better prepared to tackle an ambiguous world, and they serve as examples that humanity and hard work always prevail.”

First in Her Family

Taryn Deppe is among the more than 70 percent of A&M-San Antonio students who are the first in their families to attend college. And, like many A&M-San Antonio students, she’s made time to give back to her community. Throughout her academic journey Deppe has volunteered hundreds of hours each year, earning the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award three years in a row.

Deppe describes her volunteer interests as “all over the place” – serving as an on-call puppy sitter for puppies in training and as a general support volunteer for Guide Dogs For The Blind, Inc., as well as a guest coach and tournament official for various events with the Greater San Antonio United States Bowling Congress. The latter has been a natural fit with her talents. A graduate of San Antonio’s Madison High School, Deppe bowled competitively on the school’s varsity team all four years, and starting her second semester of college has served as an assistant coach and now Assistant Head Coach for the MacArthur High School bowling team in San Antonio.

While enrolled at A&M-San Antonio, Deppe also participated in every Choose-Act-Impact community service event sponsored by the University’s Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement. From volunteering with the San Antonio River Authority clearing invasive trees to working with the San Antonio Food Bank preparing boxes for food-insecure senior citizens, Deppe enjoys giving back. “I take every opportunity to represent the University well, because it has given me so much.”

Deppe credits the supportive mentoring relationship with her academic success coach and others who have played a role in helping her determine her strengths and interests. She has paid that forward, working one-on-one with students as a peer coach for freshmen in her student worker role with the University’s Student Academic Success Center.

“The pandemic also provided an opportunity for lots of self-reflection about where I see myself in the future,” says Deppe. Part of that includes continued schooling. Deppe is in the process of applying for admission to the University’s Master of Arts in English program and is looking forward to her next chapter in life. In addition to pursuing graduate studies, Deppe’s near-term future also involves a new career opportunity and volunteer plans that include stepping into the Lead Mentor position with the University’s First Generation Center and a goal of participating in at least the next six Choose-Act-Impact events.

Honing Leadership Skills

Gustavo De La Fuente will walk the stage at Commencement with his mom and his sister in attendance. While his next steps include being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he already has a long-term goal in mind to work within government, perhaps with the FBI. De La Fuente also plans to pursue graduate school in public policy and perhaps go to law school.

De La Fuente is part of the first cohort of students to live on the A&M-San Antonio campus in Esperanza Hall, having been recruited into the University’s ROTC program from his home town of San Benito, Texas. He credits his residential experience with helping him engage on campus in student organizations and student government. Among other activities, De La Fuente has served as an intramural assistant and a peer leader in the Office of First-Year Experience.

“A big reason I chose A&M-San Antonio is that this is a campus where you can really get involved and develop your leadership skills,” says De La Fuente. “There is so much potential here to be engaged.” In addition to several leadership awards from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, on campus De La Fuente has held the Speaker of the House for the University’s Student Government Association. This summer De La Fuente will participate in a 10-week paid “Zero Hunger Internship” through the Congressional Hunger Center, which immerses college students and recent graduates in anti-hunger work around the nation.

Growing a Support System

Born and raised on the South Side of San Antonio, Julianne Garcia has always had a passion for learning – and for beauty. When she graduates this spring, Garcia plans to enroll in a cosmetology program to become licensed. Her dream is to someday own her own business.

During her college career, Garcia has served in various roles as a student worker at the University, including as an orientation leader, a programming coordinator and a marketing coordinator in the Office of Student Success and Engagement where she helped create an Instagram student life page. A graduate of Burbank High School, Garcia applied to several universities but chose A&M-San Antonio “because of how welcoming everyone is.”

With an older sister who graduated from A&M-San Antonio in fall 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Education, and a mother who is an elementary school administrator, Garcia always envisioned herself going to college. What she couldn’t fathom was actually finishing college.

Now she is proud of having completed her degree in four years – especially after a year of living through a global pandemic that made it much harder to feel connected. “I am a real people person,” says Garcia. “In part my student worker job kept me engaged and motivated. With others around me who maintained their optimism, I decided to take charge and help build a support network for others by face-timing with friends, texting, calling and even driving by their houses and standing in their front yards so we could talk with our masks on,” says Garcia. “It’s important during tough times like this to think about how to help others who might be having an even harder time than you.”

Know When and Where to Go

In addition to in-person ceremonies, students have the option to take part virtually in graduation celebrations. A virtual celebration will take place this Friday evening, May 14, 2021, starting at 5 p.m. CST, with separate links for ceremonies for the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and College of Education and Human Development. All ceremonies will likewise stream live on Facebook, with links available from https://www.tamusa.edu/graduationservices/.

Separate in-person celebrations will be held by each College as follows:

  • College of Arts and Sciences: Saturday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to noon; and Sunday, May 16, from 10 a.m. to noon
  • College of Business: Saturday, May 15, from noon to 2 p.m.; and Sunday, May 16, from noon to 2 p.m.
  • College of Education and Human Development: Saturday, May 15, from 2 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, May 16, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Each graduate is allowed up to five friends or family members in attendance, with all members of each group required to check in together in order to participate. Temperature checks will be administered, and masks are required by all in attendance except for graduates during their photos, which will take place in designated locations on campus. Social distancing will be practiced at all times. While there will be no live streaming of in-person ceremonies, friends and family members are eligible to record the stage crossing, and general photos of the event will be posted on the A&M-San Antonio Flickr account, available at Graduation Services at https://www.tamusa.edu/graduationservices/.

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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