Texas A&M University-San Antonio will host its inaugural class reunions June 28-29 as it celebrates 10 years as a stand-alone institution.
To encompass the Jaguar experience for alumni, the university has set up mock classes with current professors. Subjects cover psychology, history, marketing, education and Latinx literature.
On the guest list are also faculty and staff members whom the classes of 2009 and 2014 have chosen as their favorites from when they attended the university.
“Faculty are oftentimes the key for people, because that’s who made their transformative experience,” said Mary Kay Cooper, director of alumni engagement.
Alumni go back to school with ‘mock classes’
By Jesus Vazquez
Dawn Weatherford, Ph.D. and assistant professor of psychology, will teach “Never Forget a Face,” which explains that people are not bad at recognizing faces but instead have difficulty recalling names. She also will share tools to overcome the flaw.
“I’m basically teaching people, first off, kind of dispelling the myth that people are bad at recognizing faces,” Weatherford said, “Actually, no, you’re really, really good at recognizing faces. You’re bad at remembering names, and those two things are neurologically distinct. The way that we process facial information is distinct from how I have to bootstrap your name.”
Weatherford was approached by Mary Kay Cooper, director of alumni engagement, to teach a mock class after someone had suggested the professor’s name to her.
Cooper also was present at her College of Arts and Sciences Speaker Series where Weatherford gave a variant of the mock class.
“When she asked me, I said, ‘Well, No. 1, it wouldn’t take a whole bunch of work because I’ve already done it. And No. 2, I just think it’s kind of a cool idea,’” Weatherford said.
Weatherford began teaching at A&M-San Antonio in July 2016. She expects very few if any alumni to be her former students because she is a recent addition to the institution.
After graduating with a doctorate from Texas A&M University-Commerce, Weatherford taught at Arkansas State University from August 2013 to June 2016 before returning to Texas.
“Although it was a good learning experience for me in terms of like, ‘What does it mean to be an assistant professor?’ I knew that Jonesboro, Arkansas, was not my home,” Weatherford said. “And I got my degree at Texas A&M in Commerce, so I already knew I liked the Texas A&M system, I like Texas.”
She said she enjoys being a part of A&M-San Antonio because the students are super eager, the class sizes are reasonable and it’s in an amazing city. Additionally, she never had to teach at satellite locations before aggressive expansion began on the main campus following the university master plan.
By Nicolas Jordan
Dennis Elam, business communications professor, said he agreed to present a mock class at the reunion to count toward his service requirement and as an opportunity to teach socioeconomics.
Elam chose business marketing, management and socioeconomics as topics. Although intriguingly presenting these topics may be challenging, Elam said he is ecstatic to teach socioeconomics.
“I am very familiar in introducing socioeconomics to beginners,” he said. “They will be given numerous pointers introduced to other social accountants which they should use as a predictive tool.”
Elam will teach his mock class 9:15-10 a.m. in Room 215 of the Central Academic Building.
Elam has been teaching for 16 years. His teaching journey began in a portable at Palo Alto College in 2003. He was hired at A&M-San Antonio five days prior to the 2013 fall semester. Elam said the Madla Building was his favorite sight on campus.
When he is not conducting courses on campus, he enjoys trying new Mexican restaurants and spending time with his wife.
“Whenever anyone may have the chance, if you have not done so already, go ahead and give La Fonda Mexican Restaurant a try,” he said. “It is the oldest Mexican restaurant in San Antonio serving the best Tex-Mex and interior Mexican food.”
Alumni’s favorite profs, employees invited
By Jazmine Marie Prieto
Josephine Sosa-Fey, a professor of management in the College of Business, was one of the chosen favorite faculty members.
“I feel great. I wasn’t at all expecting it. It makes me feel good that my efforts did actually make an impact,” Sosa-Fey said.
Sosa-Fey has been working at A&M-San Antonio since fall 2001.
She said she believes it is important to teach and inspire students because the time spent doing that contributes to the students’ life and the community.
It is important for Sosa-Fey to participate in the reunion because she would love to see some of the students who were there when she had first started back when they were in portable buildings at Palo Alto College.
“We were so small, it was just like a family. And so I really would like to see some of the students that I taught back then, and to see how they are doing,” Sosa-Fey said.
Sosa-Fey’s favorite thing about working at A&M-San Antonio is that the work that the faculty members do is going to have a significant impact on students’ lives. She said it is important that professors communicate with their students.
Said Sosa-Fey: “It is important to reply to an email or by phone very quickly because most of the time they are just waiting for that answer before they can move on with whatever assignment they are working on.”
By Gianna M. Del Giudice
Cynthia Lee, A&M-San Antonio alumna and staff member, is a Jaguar for life. She is part of the 2008 graduating class, and office manager of the College of Business.
“I started in ‘07,” said Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences in Human Relations. “I’ve been here for almost 13 years. I’m one of the originals. There’s two of us left here — one of the originals that started at the Palo Alto campus in the portable buildings.”
Lee’s favorite aspect about working here can be summed up in two words.
“The people,” she said. Lee has had the opportunity to watch A&M-San Antonio grow from portable buildings to a stand-alone four-year university.
Alumni chose Lee as one of the favorite faculty or staff members invited to participate in the reunion weekend. She looks at the event as an opportunity to answer questions about the past and to inform alumni about where A&M-San Antonio started to where it is now.
Jaguar pride has a deeper meaning in Lee’s family. Her husband, daughter and son-in-law have all graduated from the institution in the time she has worked there.
Lee reflected on what it is like to be an alumna along with members of her family.
“It’s an honor,” Lee said. “My children already had their degrees from other universities so I started school actually after they did. My husband and my daughter both walked the same day in 2014. My husband got his undergraduate and my daughter got her graduate, so there’s three of us here. It feels really good, as a lot of people know that.”
Lee considers the students at A&M-San Antonio the future. She said “giving guidance and lending a hand in their academic development” is important.