Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meet a Roadrunner: Huge heart, brilliant mind, Pat Graham is 'UTSA mom,' mentor to many

Pat Graham
Pat Graham

Pat Graham -- now and in 1975

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(June 4, 2014) -- Meet Pat Graham. This October, Graham will celebrate her 40th year at UTSA.

The year she started, the university was still operating out of the Koger Center. She remembers clearly when everything transitioned to the "new" campus off of Loop 1604, today's Main Campus, which at the time was jokingly referred to as "UT-Boerne."

"We had to park along UTSA Boulevard, and then they would bus us into campus and drop us off at what is now the McKinney Humanities Building. The 'library' was in one of the [athletics] small courts in the PE building, and if you wanted to check out a book, the librarian would send a courier to UT-Austin to get the book and bring it back the next day for you."

Graham's mind is a treasure chest of vivid memories of all the students she has met. She's known for surprising UTSA alumni by remembering their first names and the first time they met.

In her role as executive director of the Special Events Center, she oversees major university events such as Commencement and Fall Convocation. She facilitates the UTSA Ambassadors program, which consists of 60+ student leaders each year who serve as hosts at campus events, conferences, and community and alumni functions. Over the past 25 years, more than 1,000 students have gone through the program. Many of them are passionately loyal to UTSA and remain in close contact with Graham.

"Dr. Graham did so much for me, and I'm so grateful to have had her in my life. She truly was my UTSA mom," said Diana Cuervo '13, M.S. '14. "What's really special about her is that she's not only like this with me; she's special with every single individual who crosses her path. She has a huge heart and a brilliant mind, and her experience with UTSA makes it easy for any student to relate. She can help anyone with anything, even problems that aren't UTSA related. She's always there to talk. Dr. Graham is the UTSA mom everyone wants to have, and I'm glad she was mine for the past 5 years."

One of Graham's most distinctive qualities is her ability to see the potential in people and help them recognize it for themselves.

"I believe in the rough diamond theory. A rough diamond just looks like an old rock. But if you polish it, you'll get a beautiful gem."

With all the ways the university has grown and changed over the years, she says there is still a clear understanding that we are here to help our students succeed above anything else.

"To have the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives is a huge responsibility, but it's also a huge reward," she said. "I have the best job in the world."

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Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at social@utsa.edu, so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.

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Did You Know?

UTSA makes the grade with a strong core curriculum

UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.

For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.

Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.

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