(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.
Successful first-year students at UTSA are those who learn how to utilize resources, recognize and resolve problems, and prepare themselves to take advantage of their time on campus. The Student Success Series promotes this achievement by offering workshops on the common concerns and questions first-year students have during their transition to university life.
University Center Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Come be a part of your official Class of 2021 picture! The entire freshmen class gather at the Recreation Field Complex which some may know as the UTSA Football Practice Field behind the Softball Complex and Alvarez Hall.
Recreation Field Complex, Main Campus
Come show your Roadrunner Spirit by joining our very own Rowdy, The Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band (SOSA), your fellow students, faculty and staff as we light the Monument at our Main Campus entrance at the stroke of midnight to mark the start of a new academic year.
John Peace Blvd. entrance, Main Campus
Join President Eighmy for this celebration to kick off the new school year. The event will feature live musical performances and a free BBQ dinner.
Convocation Center Lawn, Main Campus
Join fellow Roadrunners on the Downtown Campus for this free BBQ dinner.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
New and returning graduate students are encouraged to stop by before going to class to learn more about what UTSA has to offer, participate in fun activities, listen to music, connect with peers and enjoy refreshments.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
Students are invited to attend the Fraternity|Sorority Life Informational Sessions and Mix & Mingle. This is an opportunity for students to meet-and-greet members of the Fraternity/Sorority Life community, and get together with your new Roadrunner friends.
UC Travis and Harris Rooms (HUC 2.202 and HUC 2.212) then UC Lawn, Main Campus
Find out what the Downtown Library has to offer. Stop by to enjoy refreshments and learn more about your library. It’s a great place to study, use computers, work on group projects, or to get help finding material on your research topic. Welcoming staff and a pleasant setting make the library a terrific resource for students.
Buena Vista Street Building, 2nd floor, Downtown Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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