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A Message from VPSA Sam Gonzales

“Pictured Above: Vice President for Student Affairs, Sam Gonzales” Pictured Above: Vice President for Student Affairs, Sam Gonzales

Happy Thanksgiving! Both UTSA and our students are thankful for you. During this season of thanks, I want you to know how much we appreciate the support you provide the Roadrunner in your life. Your emotional support becomes even more important now as the end of the semester approaches.

It seems hard to believe that final exams are right around the corner. For many of our students, Thanksgiving break signifies impending due dates for large projects, papers and preparing for exams. That means it is not necessarily a break; however, being near family and friends does wonders for their strength and determination. We will welcome them back after break for one last push to the finish line. We believe that they can finish strong.

It is also the perfect time to look forward to next semester. Registration is in progress and I encourage you to discuss schedule planning with your student. It's never too early to plan. I know it may seem like a tug of war with students having to concentrate on finishing strong and planning next semester, but they can do it.

To deal with all the semester brings, there are many support services provided for students at UTSA. Your student can check in with his/her academic advisor for insight on class choice and degree planning. They can check in with Counseling Services to handle stress and they can also ensure that the semester ends strong by visiting our Tomás Rivera Center for Student Success that offers academic coaching, tutoring, supplemental instruction and more.

It is also time to focus on recruiting the Class of 2019 and we need your help.  When you see our undergraduate admissions counselors visiting high schools in your area, give them a high five for me.  We hope for your support in encouraging students from your town to join us at UTSA.  Now and forever, we are Roadrunners.

Best Wishes,

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2014 Family Weekend Recap


Family Weekend 2014 proved to be quite the success this year! With over 550 Family Weekend Packages, the event officially sold out with a few days to spare before the big event.  One of our headlining events, the Family Fiesta, also reached maximum capacity which demonstrates how enthusiastic and eager our UTSA families were to enjoy the weekend’s festivities with their students.

The weekend began with the annual Rowdy Rally pep rally on campus, where our Family of the Year and UTSA families cheered on the UTSA Football team while enjoying a piñata full of candy, and food and refreshments. Shortly after the Rowdy Rally was our second annual Family Fiesta which was held at Sunset Station. The event showcased a university update given by UTSA Academic Provost, Dr. John Frederick, as well as a private musical performance by Mariachi Azul de San Antonio.

On game day, guests enjoyed the UTSA Alumni Association Tailgate where a face painter and caricature artist were ready and available for the little roadrunners in attendance. Guests enjoyed all you can eat sausage wraps, chips and queso and beverages.

The Family Weekend was a triumph with so many UTSA families in attendance. Thanks to all of those who came out to support our UTSA Football team and roadrunner family!

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The 2014-2015 UTSA Family of the Year


The UTSA Family of the Year essay contest is intended to celebrate the supportive role families play in the lives of students and the University community. The Family of the Year is also a very large tradition of the Family Association. Students are given the opportunity to nominate their families for the title of the ultimate UTSA Family of the Year, by writing an essay that demonstrates their family’s support, enthusiasm for UTSA and so much more. After careful consideration, Anissa Granillo, a junior, business major from El Paso, Texas and her family were selected to serve as our 2014-2015 UTSA Family of the Year.

Below is an excerpt from Anissas's Family of the Year Essay.

"Now in my third year at UTSA, my family is still as supportive as they were on day one. Even though I am so far away, I am still included in all my family events. I often receive video chat calls to watch presents being opened at birthday parties or just to partake in our weekly Sunday cookout conversations. As a family we have hundreds of group messages, and as dysfunctional as they are, they always bring a smile to my face. Even 600 miles away they make me feel like they are here with me every single day. Without the support of my family I do not know if I would even be in college or if I would have made it this far. They have each made sure that I remain strong through this journey that I am taking, and that I never give up on my hopes and dreams, because unselfishly, they were all on my team and were willing to do anything to watch me succeed."

Congratulations again to Anissa and her family!

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Fall 2014 Study Days and Final Exam Preparation

As the Fall 2014 is coming to a close, most students are starting to prepare for their Fall 2014 final exams and/or final semester papers. To better prepare, students are encouraged to take advantage of the wonderful academic support services offered by the Tomás Rivera Center (TRC). The TRC promotes lifelong student success by providing innovative resources to UTSA Students and community. Services include Academic Coaching, Supplemental Instruction, Tutoring Services, and much more.

Listed below are basic, final exam tips provided by the TRC – Academic Coaching area, which you can share with your student in the event they call you asking for recommendations:

  • Start early. Preparation for finals begins even BEFORE the actual week of final exams. You cannot cram an entire quarter or semester’s worth of information into one or two nights of studying.
  • Predict exam questions using as possible questions the textbook headings, class notes, and previous quizzes and exams.
  • Review the main points, especially those you find most difficult to recall.
  • As a rule of thumb, go through the main headings of the text or your notes and see if you can remember the content.
  • For the week before and during exams, life should be as normal as possible and normal habits of sleeping, eating, exercising, etc. should be maintained. You need at least four hours of sleep a night to function. College finals are designed to make you think. If you are sleep deprived, you won’t be able to comprehend (or answer) the challenging questions you will face.
  • Study your favorite subject last and the one you dread first. Devote more time to a subject in which you are not strong.
  • Arrive early and choose a seat where latecomers will not disturb you. Stop cramming five minutes before the test. Use this time before the test to relax, catch your breath, and take a minute to get focused. By cramming until the last 30 seconds before you sit down to take the exam, you will more than likely just confuse yourself or walk into a wall trying to read and get to your desk.

For information regarding TRC locations and hours, students can visit http://utsa.edu/trcss/lnh.html.  As a reminder, Fall 2015 Study Days are Thursday, December 11 and Friday, December 12. Final Exam Days are Saturday, December 13 thru Friday, December 19.

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Fall 2014 Winter Break and Spring 2015 Registration

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Spring 2015 registration has officially begun! Doctoral students and graduate students were eligible to start registering for Spring 2015 classes on November 3, 2014 at 7:00am. Class registration will vary based on a student’s classification and earned credit hours earned. Students can logon to ASAP to find out how many credit hours they have earned as well as browse the classes offered for Spring 2015.

During the Winter break, which will take place December 20, 2014 thru January 11, 2015, families are encouraged to engage in conversation with their students regarding their classes, degree plan and set semester goals.

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UTSA official census indicates nearly 5,000 first-time students arrived this fall


The University of Texas at San Antonio welcomed 4,966 new Roadrunners this fall, according to an official census report by the UTSA Office of Institutional Research. The fall 2014 freshman class is one of the largest in UTSA's history.

Nearly 60 percent of UTSA's incoming students graduated in the top quartile of their high school graduating classes, a significant increase from 38 percent just five years ago. This fall, 67 percent of UTSA's incoming freshmen are enrolled in 15 or more semester hours.

UTSA receives approximately 15,000 completed fall semester applications each year, and admission was offered to about 60 percent of those applicants this fall. UTSA has steadily increased admissions standards over the last several years to encourage student success and graduation in four years.

Recently, UTSA established additional merit-based scholarship opportunities to attract additional high-achieving students to the university. The Top Scholars program and Distinguished Presidential Scholarship are advancing UTSA's path toward Tier One status by supporting the proactive recruitment of high-caliber, first-time freshmen.

To read more please click on http://www.utsa.edu/today/2014/10/census.html

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Family Association Student Spotlight: Taylor Pefferkorn


Name: Taylor Pefferkorn
Hometown: Schertz, TX-
Major: Sophomore
Minor: Management
- Extracurricular Activities: Orientation Leader, Peer Mentor, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Executive Board FTK, LEAP

What is your favorite tradition of Family Weekend?

My favorite tradition during Family Weekend has to be the Rowdy Rally. I always love the free food and perks that are provided. I also love to see who wins the Family of the Year Contest. It's a huge honor and privilege to hold that title. The last part of the Rowdy Rally that I absolutely love would be seeing all of the football players walk through and the crowd going wild with pride and admiration for the team.

Final exam season is nearly approaching; how do you plan to prepare for them?

Throughout the entire semester I am constantly preparing for finals. Most finals at UTSA are cumulative; therefore, I feel it necessary to start studying and preparing in the very beginning of the semester.  

How are your time management skills?

I would say that I have really great time management skills. I always keep a calendar, a to-do list, and reminders on my phone that I update daily. I feel that it is very important to have time management skills especially in college. The skills that you acquire during college are what you carry throughout your entire life.

Where is your favorite place to study for all of your finals?

My favorite place of all time to study would be on the 4th floor of the John Peace Library. I would say that this is the best and most effective place because not very many people go to the 4th floor. Everyone is stuck on the 2nd floor unaware of the privacy and abundance of computers that the 4th floor of the John Peace Library.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with the freshmen regarding their first-ever final exam season experience?

I would tell them to start building their GPA now because these core classes will be the least challenging classes they will take during their college career. It very important to start off strong so that when classes get more challenging there will always be a hypothetical cushion to fall back on. And lastly I would tell them to take advantage of all resources that are available to them: John Peace Library, Q-Lab, Writing Center, tutors, and SI sessions. Do your best but don't stress!

What tips would you give to parents to insure their student will succeed?

They picked the right school and their child is safe. They chose a university that is very dedicated to academics and is on its way to tier one status. As I previously stated, UTSA has many available resources that encourage academic excellence. UTSA provides their students with everything necessary to succeed. It is their duty to take advantage of it.

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UPDATE to Fall 2015 Semester: First Day of Classes

4r5tThe Fall 2015, first day of classes date, has been updated to Tuesday, August 18, 2015. Previous publications, such as earlier UTSA Academic Calendars and the 2014-2015 UTSA Family Association Calendar, listed the start date as the last Wednesday of August 2015. Please make sure to update your calendars appropriately!

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Important Spring 2014 Dates

Thursday, November 27 - Saturday, November 29, 2014: Thanksgiving Holiday University Closed

Thursday, December 11, 2014: Student Study Day

Friday, December 12, 2014: Student Study Day

Saturday, December 13 - Friday, December 19, 2014: Final Exams

Thursday, December 24 - Friday, December 26, 2014: Winter Holiday University Closed

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Thank you for reading the Family Connection!