Commencement Spotlight: Public Administration graduate aims to change communities through leadership and respect
(Dec. 23, 2015) -- Meet Dieter Cantu. Through his non-profit organization, Position of Power, he’s leading an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence and other social issues.
Born to an African-American mother and a father of German and Hispanic heritage, Cantu saw a lot of struggle and misfortune as a youth. He watched his mother suffer abuse from his father. Then, she battled spinal meningitis.
After years of facing various trials and tribulations, Cantu longed for a change. He wanted to help others who had witnessed hardships and lack of opportunity. He enrolled at UTSA as a transfer student to pursue a degree in Public Administration.
In 2009, Cantu founded Position of Power, a 501(c)(3) organization focused on helping disadvantaged African-American and Hispanic young men become successful citizens of society. It aims to help teach individuals how to live their lives with high moral and ethical standards.
“When I started Position of Power, I wanted to create an opportunity for people to succeed. I saw a lot of misused energy and talent in the neighborhood,” said Cantu. “I didn’t grow up with any mentors, or anyone to really help me learn life skills. I had to learn on my own through trial and error. I wanted to help people discover what they can offer to the world.”
Jarveon Williams, a junior running back for the UTSA Roadrunners football team, is a member of Position of Power. He says that being a part of the organization has inspired him to unlock his full potential.
“Being a part of the P.O.P. organization has opened my mind, heart and spirit to becoming a better person,” said Williams. “Dieter challenges your mind and helps you see things in a different perspective. He’s a very inspirational person who makes you want to do better for yourself.”
Since 2009, Cantu’s organization has actively hosted and participated in community service projects such as a Christmas toy and coat drive, Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, breast cancer awareness basketball tournament, neighborhood clean-up events and more. The organization also has helped develop anti-gang strategies and interventions for at-risk youth facing challenges with the law.
In 2013, Position of Power began addressing domestic violence. Cantu started the Respect Women Campaign to create and spread a positive concept and worthy representation of women in society. He wanted to speak out against domestic violence and other social issues such as sexual abuse and forms of female degradation.
“Everyone wants to say it, but no one wants to say it,” said Cantu. “I witnessed so much degradation of females as a young child. You kind of get desensitized to it. I wanted to do something about it.”
The campaign started with positive messaging on t-shirts. It also has appeared in local media outlets.
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor recognized Cantu’s hard work with a congratulatory certificate for talking to juveniles at detention centers about domestic violence. Cantu says Mayor Taylor has been a significant influence in his life.
“Mayor Ivy Taylor, when she was my [UTSA] instructor at the time, helped open doors for me and helped me build relationships in the San Antonio community,” said Cantu. He says that the UTSA Public Administration program has helped him grow tremendously.
“The professors and staff care about your well-being and inform you about scholarship opportunities and other information to help you with your academic goals,” he said. He continues to motivate and inspire young people in San Antonio and surrounding regions.His most powerful message for others is one he gave himself a long time ago: “I was never afraid to be myself,” he said. “Anything is plenty. Change starts with one person at a time.”
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View more commencement spotlights at the UTSA Commencement website.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio