(July 9, 2014) -- Meet Jesus Figueroa Alcantar. He is the first student from Texas to participate in the Leadership Program for Indigenous Youth at Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP).
Jesus considers himself a Native Mexican because his grandparents were P'urhépecha, native to the Mexican state of Michoacan. He moved to San Antonio when he was very young, but he has always held on to his indigenous roots.
An anthropology major and founder of the UTSA Native American Student Association, Jesus is an active member of his Native American church, volunteers in his community and participates in dances and other tribal ceremonies both locally and nationally.
"We are very proud of Jesus' accomplishments, in particular as a young community leader," said Rene Zenteno, UTSA vice provost for international initiatives. "At UTSA, we are committed to expanding our efforts to support first-generation college students to have an international experience in order to increase their knowledge and horizons."
UDLAP's four-week leadership program provides participants with tools and knowledge primarily in public policy and entrepreneurship in order to solve problems in their native communities. The 38 students in this summer's program were from Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, California, Texas and Mexico.
"The most valuable part of the experience was the strong friendships I made and what I learned from the other students in the program," he said. "We would talk politics or culture and share about each other either over a meal or at night after class. We would share songs, phrases in our native languages and stories. It's rare to meet young people who are proud of their indigenous roots so to meet and network with the others in the program was amazing."
The leadership program helps the participants learn how to recognize problems in their communities and create change from within rather than expecting solutions to come from the outside.
In his own Native American community, Jesus sees that many people, particularly youth, deny their own culture because it has been looked at as inferior for so many generations. Other problems include access to education and drug use.
Jesus is passionate about bringing people together to work in harmony with one another.
"One thing that all indigenous people from all over must do is to help young people become proud of their identity and culture and find that balance between modernity and being traditional," he said. "We have to find ways to work together and unite instead of fighting amongst ourselves."
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.
Read the stories of other UTSA students, faculty, staff and alumni on the Meet a Roadrunner website.
Get involved and register to vote. Click on the link to find out the locations on the Main and Downtown Campuses.
Multiple locations on the Main and Downtown Campuses
UTSA students are encouraged to drop by, have a slice of pizza and introduce themselves to President Taylor Eighmy.
University Center Ski Lodge (UC 1.01.00) , Main Campus
Come meet the candidates looking to take home the crown as Mr. and Ms. UTSA 2017-2018. This is your opportunity to hear the candidates platform and learn how they plan to represent and transform UTSA.
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
UTSA's Friends of Shakespeare hosts this annual performance seried by Actors from the London Stage, Sept. 27, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
The Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery will prepare a mandala sand painting on the main exhibit floor and offer various lectures and activities.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
This event will focus on Language Access and Health Disparities. Workshops, a panel discussion, and a keynote address will feature experts in their fields and cover a variety of health-related topics. It's free and open to the public.
John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
Meet researchers and practitioners from academia, industry and government who are working to address smart cities related issues. Register here: https://utsaresearch.wufoo.com/forms/smart-cities-networking-luncheon/
Durango Building, La Villita Room (DB 1.116), Downtown Campus
The event is designed to help UTSA community members build relationships with each other and the UTSAPD. It will feature local vendors, free snacks and giveaways.
University Center Lawn, Main 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.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.