Beginning Fall 2016, Texas A&M University-San Antonio welcomes freshmen and sophomore students, a breakthrough for the university since opening its Main Campus to upper-division students just a few years ago.
As of April 6, A&M-San Antonio received 4,428 freshmen applications and accepted 1,358.
To publicize and showcase the students’ accepted status, A&M-San Antonio’s marketing department launched the “#IAmAJaguar” campaign for admitted students.
Students accepted for the 2016-2017 academic year received a scroll in the mail with an A&M-San Antonio T-shirt, university swag and their acceptance letter inside.
On Feb. 29, the university sent the first batch–more than 600 scrolls–out to accepted students.
In addition to making history at A&M-San Antonio, the #IamAJaguar campaign also focuses on students who are the first in their families to attend college, marketed on Twitter as #BeFirst.
“That’s why the entire thing is ‘be first’…that’s what we’re really talking about,” said Nick Longo, special assistant to the President for Marketing. “Not just be the first freshman class, which is cool, but be the first to go to college in your family, which is really an aspiration.”
For many of these students, this is a grand opportunity. After speaking with multiple future Jaguars from districts around San Antonio, there is a lot of #BeFirst stories making their way to A&M-San Antonio.
A few future Jaguar class of 2020 students shared their perspective with The Mesquite.
Elyse Echavarria is an aspiring dancer from the North East School of Arts, a magnet program at Robert E. Lee High School. She is the second member of her family to attend A&M-San Antonio. Her sister Mireya Gomez, a biology major, will graduate in May.
Echavarria said she was excited to be in a different atmosphere and see the campus grow. Her intended major is computer science with a minor in kinesiology.
After her father was in and out of the hospital last year from March to December due to a medical condition, Echavarria decided she would stay in town for college.
“I realized, if I want to go to school it would be in state. If anything, in the city,” she said. “With my dad being sick, I realized I wanted to help people.”
Echavarria is one of five finalists vying for the $10,000 scholarship provided by the Joci Awards, an annual scholarship competition from the Las Casas Foundation, a non-profit organization for performing arts students.
An initial $2,000 Joci Awards scholarship awarded to Echavarria, is allowing her to attend A&M-San Antonio.
Sara Salmon, a senior at Harlandale High School, said she’s ready for the next step in her career path. Salmon is a part of the “Ready, Set, Teach!” education training program at Harlandale, where she has the opportunity to work with elementary students with special needs. Aside from her internships with teaching, Salmon volunteers for the Special Olympics.
Salmon’s intended major is education, and she hopes to be an elementary teacher.
“I’m excited to be a part of the first freshman class at A&M-San Antonio,” she said.
Henry San Miguel, a senior from Harlandale, plans to major in Fire and Emergency Services Administration and is excited about being the first in his family to attend college.
“I’m excited that I’m one of the first ones to go to college and to show everyone that I’ve made it,” San Miguel said.
San Miguel’s classmate, Analuisa Aguilar, is another senior from Harlandale and a future Jaguar. Her intended major is biology, and she shared her story on why #BeFirst means so much to her.
“My mom graduated high school, but my dad didn’t … no one in my family has gone to college, so I will be the first,” Aguilar said.
When asked what she looks most forward to in college, Aguilar responded, “I feel like I can learn a lot more and grow as an individual person and college will give me that.”
“I want to be a part of something big,” said Olga Saucedo, another student at Harlandale High School, who is excited to be the first in her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Victoria Torres, a senior from Pleasanton High School plans on being a physical therapy major. Torres’s passion is to help others and let them live life without restraints.
“I’m excited to be part of a generation that will be class of 2020,” said Torres, excited about being a part of making history.
Tyson Ramos, a student from Donna High School, located in the Rio Grande Valley area, is another student who is the first of his family to attend college. San Antonio is like a second home to Ramos. Kinesiology is his intended major. He hopes to become an independent individual and make his family proud.
“I chose A&M-San Antonio because it is close to home and far from ordinary,” said Nathan Hernandez, a student from PSJA North Early College in Pharr, Texas. Hernandez plans on majoring in criminology.
Lisset Martinez, a senior at James Madison High School, is yet another #BeFirst example who received her admissions scroll.
“Both of my parents graduated high school and attended college in Mexico, so I’ll be the first in my family to graduate high school and attend college in the United States,” Martinez said.
Not only is the #BeFirst important to incoming freshman, but the affordability played a big role in the decision on where to attend college.
“Since DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students don’t qualify for FAFSA, I get very little financial aid,” Martinez said . “Texas A&M-San Antonio gives me the opportunity to attend college because of its reasonable tuition. I’m happy that I get to attend a great school without having to pay much.”
For incoming students, four single credit student success courses, called “JagTracks,” are required.
These courses, taken between the freshman and senior years of study, will help set students up for success and give them information about internships, externships, research opportunities, grad school and career plans.
“There are a lot of special things happening with this first (freshman) class,” said Chryssa Delgado, director of admissions at A&M-San Antonio.
Freshman orientation on campus is required starting for all freshmen entering the 2016-2017 school year. On campus orientation allows students to spend an afternoon on campus touring the university as well as learning about all on-campus programs available to them.
“We want to ensure student success and students should be well-oriented,” Delgado said.
The application deadline for fall admission to A&M-San Antonio is June 30, 2016. Students should submit all documents by July 15.