The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Student dies of COVID-19, awarded posthumous degree

Student dies of COVID-19, awarded posthumous degree - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The Science and Technology Building at Texas A&M University-San Antonio on March 17, 2020. Accounting senior Robert Wagstaff will be awarded a posthumous degree by the university after dying April 10 because of COVID-19 complications. Photo by Maegan Mendoza

The Science and Technology Building at Texas A&M University-San Antonio on March 17, 2020. Accounting senior Robert Wagstaff will be awarded a posthumous degree by the university after dying April 10 because of COVID-19 complications. Photo by Maegan Mendoza

Accounting senior Robert Wagstaff died on April 10 from COVID-19 complications as he was taking his next to last class at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Picture of Robert Wagstaff. Photo courtesy of Audrey Wagstaff

He was 30 years old.

Despite being a few credits short of bachelor’s degree, the university will acknowledge his years of work. Robert Wagstaff will be awarded a posthumous degree at the ceremony rescheduled for Sept. 25 and will be recognized as an A&M-San Antonio graduate of 2020, President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said May 15 in an email to the campus community. 

“He truly embodied the work ethic and the dedication to learning that many of our students represent,” Matson said. “He earned this, and we’re proud to claim him as a Texas A&M-San Antonio graduate.”

His mother, Audrey Wagstaff, said his uncle ReShard Wagstaff will accept the degree in his nephew’s honor.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Robert Wagstaff, a Southwest High School graduate, started his journey at A&M-San Antonio in 2014 after completing two associate degrees in business and accounting at St. Philip’s College.

Throughout his academic career, Robert worked full time while being a part-time student. Audrey Wagstaff said he took one or two classes at a time and strived to complete his degree debt free.

“To hear that he did earn the degree, that all his hard work is recognized, and to share that with your family means everything,” she said. “To hear that my baby gets to graduate from college — it means the world to us.”

Audrey Wagstaff said her son was named Baby Boy for seven days when he was born. The nickname “BB” became permanent. 

Robert Wagstaff was employed in the hospitality industry and later in banking. In addition to being a student, his mother said he enjoyed reading, gaming and giving back to the community by donating blood and volunteering at the Salvation Army. 

Audrey Wagstaff said her only child showed commitment not only to his education, but in other aspects of his life such as visiting the same hairstylist for 10 years and playing the card version of “Magic” every Saturday with his friends; he continued to play until social distancing restrictions began.

She said her son experienced mild symptoms and was hospitalized on April 3 at Northeast Baptist Hospital.

She said she cherishes memories of her late son by remembering his kindness, self-expression and how he valued each day.

“He was the type of person that — every day was a blessing. Every single day was an opportunity to do something good and to do something better,” Audrey Wagstaff said. “(I) miss the sound of his voice, his excitement about a new book, his making fun of a stupid TV commercial. Those are the everyday things you can’t reproduce because they’re so natural.”

About the Author

Veronica Valdes
Veronica Valdes
Veronica Valdes is a junior communication major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Veronica received her associate of arts from Northwest Vista College in 2018. She works as a receptionist in addition to being a full-time student. In her spare time, she enjoys running, concerts and scoping out new restaurants. Upon graduating, Veronica hopes to pursue a career in journalism.

Join the Conversation

© 2020 Jaguar Student Media | Texas A&M University-San Antonio. All Rights Reserved. All Rights Reserved.
San Antonio Website Design & Development - Backyard Studios
Join Our Newsletter

Get the Mesquite News delivered straight to you.