As a breeze blew through the President’s Rose Garden, Rebecca De Leon stood at the podium holding back tears as she spoke about the loss of her colleague and mentor, Dr. Patrick McDaniel.
“Dr. McDaniel was a terrific instructor, mentor and advocate for our students but also a servant leader within the local community agency area,” said De Leon, Staff Council president-elect and program coordinator for Community Partnerships and Campus Visits.
McDaniel, instructional assistant professor of counseling and founding program coordinator of human services, died Dec. 21.
De Leon was one of seven speakers April 21 at Jaguars Remembered, an annual event since 2017.
“The intent of establishing Jaguars Remembered, as an annual campus tradition, is to gather the university community together to remember and honor the lives of Jaguars who have passed away in the last year,” said Jacob Goldstein, president of the Student Government Association.
SGA did not host the event in 2020 because of the pandemic. The Jaguars who died that year were included in the 2021 ceremony.
Friends, family and staff filled the garden, which is designated as a memorial space behind the Madla Building at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. This was a joint collaboration between SGA, Alumni Affairs and the dean of students in the Office of the Vice President of Student Success & Engagement.
“The initial ceremonies from 2017 to 2021 were held specifically to honor students and alumni students who have passed,” Goldstein said.
The ceremony now includes staff and faculty members who have died.
“We look at them as members of our Jaguar community,” Goldstein said.
The unity between the organizations creates a haven for those to reminisce.
The event commemorated eight Jaguars: Sarah Gutierrez, who attended the university in pursuit of a Master of Business Administration; four alumni, David Eugene Hardwick, Bridget Michelle Mason Dunlap, Edna Sanchez Noriega and Jacob Sanchez; and three employees, Melanie Boyle, Henry Garcia and McDaniel.
After each name was called, Natali Acha, vice president of SGA, asked everyone to bow their heads for 19 seconds of silence. Nineteen seconds symbolize and honor the 19 Jaguars memorialized during the inaugural Jaguars Remembered Ceremony in 2017.
Two of the main symbols used as a part of the event are the yellow rose and the presentation of the ceremonial challenge coin.
The challenge coin signifies the unity of the Jaguar community, honoring fellow Jaguars who have died. The coins are given to the families to recognize their loved ones’ contribution to the Jaguar community.
“The challenge coin ties into the military tradition of A&M-San Antonio as a military-embracing institution,” Goldstein said.
“Being given a challenge coin represents camaraderie or unity and proves membership of a certain group, as well as honoring the actions of those who received them,” said Joseph Ramon, director of communications for SGA.
The symbolism of the yellow rose has a rich history within A&M-San Antonio and the university’s presidential seal. Yellow roses grow on flower beds on the campus grounds and their warmth and simplistic beauty symbolize friendship.
The flower is associated with the state of Texas because of the 19th-century song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” It is integrated in the history and heart of the university and is the flower for all Jaguars Remembered ceremonies.
Dr. Martha Saywell, senior lecturer of music, performed a musical tribute by playing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on the piano.
At the end of the ceremony, Acha recited “When I’m Gone” by Mosiah Lyman Hancock.
“When the sun paints the sky in the west,” Acha read, “stand for a few moments beside me and remember only my best.”