Texas A&M University-San Antonio welcomed 25 alumni and 14 guests to experience a day in the life of a Jaguar at its inaugural reunion weekend June 28-29.
The event, which coincided with A&M-San Antonio’s 10th anniversary as a stand-alone institution, was hosted for the classes of 2009 and 2014 for their respective 10- and five-year reunions.
Some alumni had never set foot on this campus before aggressive expansion following the university’s master plan. The majority took classes at Palo Alto College, Brooks City-Base, Gillette Elementary School and other locations.
“I have seen friends that I had forgotten what they looked like, and the campus has grown unbelievably,” said Jamie Rapp, class of ’09 and ’11. “Enjoy it, remember it, embrace it.”
Rapp, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2009 and a master’s degree in professional accounting in 2011, works for the city of San Antonio. She has fond memories from the Gillette campus when her study group would get together and have pizza parties during their sessions.
Before attending the reunion, she received an email from the director of alumni affairs, Mary Kay Cooper. She said at first she felt a mixture of skepticism but then excitement.
However, Rapp said she was pleasantly surprised by the reunion. Her favorite part was seeing the university’s growth since graduating.
One of her most memorable experiences was at Gillette Elementary School where she got stuck in one of the children’s restroom stalls due to their constrictive size.
In 2009 the university had 319 graduates, with 1,130 for 2014. This year, A&M-San Antonio has conferred 945 degrees to spring graduates.
The reunion began Friday at Esperanza Hall as 24 attendees checked into the dorms and received a tour of the campus. Afterward, alumni attended a pizza party in the Game Room while getting familiar with the entertainment it offered.
The next morning, the university arranged a breakfast in the Vista Room of Central Academic Building for new arrivals and those who stayed in Esperanza Hall. A second campus tour was given later in the day for alumni who arrived to the reunion Saturday.
To complete the Jaguar experience, the university set up mock classes with current professors for alumni. Subjects covered psychology, history, marketing, education and Latinx literature.
Joshua Wagner, class of ‘09, is a CPA and consultant for Aventine Hill Partners and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends he had not seen in years and learning what the professors have been up to as the university grew.
“Actually, I thought it was a unique opportunity, especially getting the chance to actually get into classrooms and hear from some of the professors,” Wagner said. “And it seemed like a unique opportunity to come on campus, one that I’m not usually used to.”
His advice to incoming students is to ask questions and not be afraid to challenge the status quo.
“If there’s something that you think needs to be changed or if there’s something you want to do and it’s not offered appropriately, talk to your professors,” Wagner said. “Challenge, ask questions and make it work.”
A video greeting by President Cynthia Teniente-Matson shared the university’s pursuit to remain connected with its alumni and its points of pride alumni could share after leaving.
Dr. Jeanette De Diemar, vice president for advancement and external relations, addressed the guests in the Vista Room during Saturday’s lunch.
Chartwells, the university’s dining service, lined tables with chicken skewers and other foods for the alumni’s lunch with desserts nearby.
“The response has been tremendous. I think anytime that you can connect graduates (and) alumni to their university, it’s a chance to say ‘welcome home,’” De Diemar said, “And the response has been overwhelming.”
De Diemar encourages alumni to stay connected with the university when receiving emails or texts from them. She views reunions as a chance to engage and add value to Jaguar’s degrees and to their lifelong partnership between the university and alumni.
Offering reunions gives Jaguars another home and resource to be a part of, said Cooper.
“This is a lifelong relationship we have with our graduates,” Cooper said in an interview June 10. “It doesn’t end when they cross the stage and get their diploma. My charge is for them to remain connected to each other and the university.”