Saturday, November 28, 2015


Commencement Close-Up: UTSA alumnus says 'don't let anything stop you'


Juan Livas
(Photo by Mark McClendon)

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(May 9, 2011)--For years, Juan Livas watched as domestic workers waited patiently for the city bus in Laredo.

"I wondered how much they made, what they spent their money on, and whether or not they made enough to adequately support their families," said Livas.

Those questions led to Juan's thesis titled "The Utilization of Earnings," and his master's degree in sociology awarded Thursday, May 5 during the College of Liberal and Fine Arts commencement ceremony.

"Going far in my education is something I do because of my Mom," he said. "She made a lot of sacrifices for me over the years. She told me this week how very proud she is of me defending my thesis and now graduating with my master's. That really means a lot to me."

Livas recalls the sacrifices and the constant moves his family made in Laredo during the first 15 years of his life -- moves required just to make ends meet. "We would find a place to live, settle in and then the rent would go up. We would find a new place and eventually the same thing would happen," he said. "It was difficult."

When Livas was 19, the family faced another difficult time -- the death of his father.

"He was an influence in my education, and when he passed away, I became really motivated to keep going. My Mom took on everything. I had to get my education to give back to her."

Livas worked 35-40 hours a week, often juggling two jobs, while carrying a full course load as an undergraduate and graduate student. He received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Texas A & M International University in Laredo and now that he has his master's, he said there is no stopping.

"Of course I'm like any graduate; I would like to get a full-time job. But I would also like to take a few years off from school then go back for my Ph.D.," he said with enthusiasm.

Livas plans to continue his research in Mexican American studies and immigration, but until then, he is basking in his accomplishment as the first in his family to receive a master's degree.

Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology, and Raquel Marquez, UTSA associate professor and department chair of sociology, supervised Livas' thesis. He considers both as his mentors.

"I have seen Juan persevere in order to complete his degree. Even after his personal circumstances forced him to return to Laredo, he continued to collect data and to write his thesis," said Marquez. "It's been very rewarding to see Juan mature in his writing and research skills. Students he may teach in the future will flourish under his supervision, because the Juan that I have come to know will place the same level of commitment toward his students as he did to his own graduate experience."

Romo said Livas' experience, working full time while going to school, is a familiar one at the university.

"Juan and the other students like him at UTSA are very motivated to succeed in higher education and to give back to their communities," Romo said. "He will be an outstanding role model for young students in his community of Laredo and he will do a great job as a future college teacher and researcher," she added, pleased with the accomplishment of her student.

Livas is already seeing a difference. He said that many of his friends are now thinking about not only getting a bachelor's degree but completing a master's program.

"In life, you will have positive and negative experiences but it's up to you to learn from them, grow because of them and become a better person," Livas said. "Don't let anything stop you.



Dec. 1, 9 a.m.

CITE Venture Competition & Exposition

The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus

Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m.

UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert

This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus

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Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

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