Recently crowned Mr. Texas A&M University-San Antonio, international business senior Zachary Franckowiak said he’s having to adjust to the attention that comes with the title.
“It takes some getting used to, plus I’ve never, ever wanted a crown in my life,” Franckowiak said.
The university announced Franckowiak and biology junior Alyssa Alvarado as Mr. and Ms. A&M-San Antonio Oct. 19 at Fall Fest.
The tradition of naming Mr. and Ms. A&M-San Antonio began in 2009, with a new Mr. and Ms. being crowned every year. The titleholders serve as examples of student success and campus involvement.
When running for the title, candidates can pair up to strengthen their campaign. Franckowiak originally ran with a campaign partner, but finished his campaign independently once his partner was eliminated from the race during the interviewing process.
Alvarado was the only other independent candidate, having run on her own from the beginning. After receiving encouragement from Alvarado’s friends, Franckowiak endorsed her campaign.
“She’s super, super spunky, and I like it because she has this good vibe, good energy,” he said. “She’s eager to do something with this position, eager to do something great and she doesn’t want to do what’s been done before.”
He said that he appreciates her being on top of everything. She likes to coordinate outfits by color and have an idea ready a week in advance.
“She’s really good at coordinating. She’s on the ball, energetic and we’re really excited about next year and that’s set already,” he said.
Franckowiak graduated from East Central High School in 2016 and started his first semester of college at Texas A&M University-College Station. During this time, he spent a week with his best friend’s cousin, an 8-year-old terminally ill cancer patient named Gallia.
“She was taking 19 doses of morphine to alleviate the pain that she was going through because she had ALL, which was a form of leukemia,” he said.
Franckowiak was given the opportunity to go to Tucson, Arizona, to visit Gallia in the hospital where she was being treated.
“Just basically prioritize her, create a friendship, make her laugh and to spend time with her because she didn’t have many people that stayed with her,” he said.
After spending time with Gallia, Franckowiak learned that her dosage of morphine went down to four.
“The doctor pulled me aside and said, ‘Son, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it because, in my 20-year professional career, I’ve never seen improvement from an outside source, like she is right now.’”
Frankowiak said that it was empowering to be a part of Gallia’s journey.
“She told me that I made ‘cancer time fun.’ Cancer and fun is not synonymous. I had that experience eating and pulling on my heartstrings my whole time,” he said.
Franckowiak was in the Corps of Cadets at A&M-College Station and wanted to commission as a Marine officer, but after his experience with Gallia, he had a change of heart.
“I wanted to scale the experience. So that’s why I transferred to San Antonio, because there’s no children’s hospitals in College Station. I wanted to give that same hospitality to other kids who had terminal illnesses because they currently aren’t getting a lot of that in the hospital system,” he said.
In addition to serving as Mr. A&M-San Antonio, Franckowiak is the current president of the Delta Chi fraternity at the university.
“Delta Chi is trying to bring men together that want to realize their fullest potential,” he said. “We want guys that want to accept responsibility because that’s how you grow, that’s how you improve. And we want to give them, and harness that responsibility, so that they can train themselves and learn.”
He said the organization focuses on making each member a “man of action.”
“Being a man of action is learning how to be courageous in those instances where your brain is like ‘no, this is really uncomfortable’ but still, you know, climbing that step further than that hurdle, and doing what is necessary and what’s right,” he said.
Riley Roberson, criminal justice freshman and member of Delta Chi, said he’s known Franckowiak for several months and that he’s a hard worker.
“I don’t ever see him not doing something productive with his time. He’s always here and there doing this and that,” Roberson said.
He said Franckowiak is good at delegating and helping people learn to do things for themselves.
“He encourages that we do service projects with the organization and other organizations, to do good in our studies,” Roberson said. “He encourages us to basically get involved in everything we can, in order to better our experiences and grow ourselves.”
Brigid Cooley contributed to this story.