(May 20, 2019) -- When couples plan a wedding, all sorts of questions arise: Do we like the venue? Which caterer should we choose? What is our color scheme? And, where should we set up our wedding registry?
For UTSA alumni Andrew Hubbard ‘17 and Carla Juarez ’17, establishing a wedding registry presented a challenge. But their approach, by far, is one of the most unique and inspiring.
Juarez, a first-generation college student, and Hubbard, a transfer student, both enrolled at UTSA in 2015. Never having met before, stars aligned for these two to cross paths through the UTSA Student Government Association (SGA).
“Being a transfer student [from San Antonio College] condensed my time at UTSA to two years,” Hubbard said. “You really have to be willing to jump in the deep end as soon as you walk on campus.”
Hubbard jumped head-first, engaging with students and organizations quickly. It wasn’t long before he became SGA President, which led him to meet many outstanding student leaders.
“I made an effort to get to know and relate to the students around me and with Carla, I felt a special connection,” he remembers.
Juarez shared the same connection.
“As I got to know him personally, I saw how extremely positive and caring he was, and I really liked those qualities,” she said.
The two spent a lot of their time engaged in university activities, growing fonder of each other each time.
“When I thought about doing something by myself or with other people, it was good. But, when I thought about doing it with her, it was better,” Hubbard said.
In 2016, Juarez earned a finalist spot for Ms. UTSA. Hubbard accompanied her to the homecoming game and although she was not crowned that night, he insisted on celebrating and took her to dinner, marking their first date. UTSA Homecoming remains a treasure for the couple; a celebration of their alma mater and their anniversary.
Earlier that year, the couple attended Convocation where Rhonda M. Gonzales, interim dean of the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts, delivered a faculty speech. She welcomed first-generation and transfer students and highlighted a pact made by six first-generation female students to graduate high school and attend college. It deeply resonated with Juarez, who had never openly discussed the challenges of being a first-generation college student.
“I heard it and I cried like a baby. It reminded me of my own struggles,” she said. “Knowing that students felt the same was welcoming.”
Gonzales and Juarez met at a luncheon following Convocation and have continued to support each other’s efforts for first-generation and transfer students. Gonzales also came to know Hubbard over time, a student she says impressed her with his advocacy for student success.
Inspired to help students like her, Juarez became involved with UTSA’s Involvement Ambassadors, Honors College Leadership Council and First Gen Council.
“I was passionate about finding a place for everyone and wanted every student to feel at home,” she recalls.
Throughout their journey, the couple engaged with organizations that helped students like them. Even as young alumni, the two remain connected.
“Something that I enjoy now is the opportunity to connect back,” Hubbard said. “Engagement is a big part of who I am, who we are.”
In 2018, they requested a very special meeting with Gonzales.
“They were very sneaky,” said Gonzales, who was under the impression that Hubbard wanted to gain career coaching from her.
With Juarez waiting in the lobby, it turned out to be a surprise request. She entered the room and the couple presented Gonzales with a card that read, “Our wedding day will be even happier if you’re a part of it. Will You Marry Us?”
Gonzales admitted to never playing the role of bridesmaid or maid of honor before. So, she felt rather overwhelmed to accept what is considered the largest role during the ceremony – officiating.
“I think that I was on the verge of tears because I was just so touched by their ‘why,’” Gonzales said.
“Education and religion are two pillars in our life, education being a very strong pillar that brings us together. It was a mutual decision because of what Gonzales represents,” Hubbard and Juarez said. "She is an amazing leader. She breaks every ceiling that there is to be broken. She’s a great role model.”
“They had me at ‘will you marry us,’” Gonzales said.
But it wasn’t until much later in the conversation that the couple shared their intentions to fundraise for a center that she helped create.
Through the process of wedding planning, they realized that the traditional wedding registry didn’t quite fit.
“We didn’t want to receive traditional gifts, but we didn’t want to remove the opportunity to give for those who wanted to contribute in some way,” Juarez said.
So, the couple created a fundraising campaign in lieu of a wedding registry. Guests have been invited to make online gifts in support of their cherished cause – first-generation and transfer students. To date, they have raised more than $3,100, surpassing their $2,500 goal in support of the UTSA First-Gen & Transfer Student Center.
>> Support Andrew and Carla’s cause.
“This is a great starting point to continue to give. We want to continue celebrating students who are trying to better their lives,” Juarez said. “If some are having some difficulties, we are happy to fill in the gaps. Complete strangers filled in the gaps for us, so this is really important to us.”
Hubbard added, “It feels right to do this because it’s a never-ending cycle. It’s either going to be a cycle of giving and empowerment or it’s going to be a cycle of poverty. And, we would rather promote the cycle of empowering others to achieve even greater things.”
The two were married by Gonzales on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Los Patios in San Antonio. A multicultural ceremony that embraced both Juarez’s Catholicism and Hubbard’s Judaism, their wedding also highlighted the Mexican and San Antonio cultures with a Fiesta-themed reception.
Support Andrew and Carla’s cause.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Roadrunner Days events welcome UTSA's newest students and helps our returning Roadrunners learn strategies for success in the new year.Various locations, Main and Downtown campuses
Join the UTSA contingent as we honor the memory and work of Martin Luther King Jr. in this citywide march. The City of San Antonio has sponsored this march on the east side of the city down MLK Drive since 1987.MLK Academy, 3501 MLK Drive, San Antonio
This exhibition, curated by Libby Rowe and Scott Sherer, presents the work of women artists who are compelled by their commitments to investigating and transforming social and cultural legacies and contexts.UTSA Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
UTSA will further honor King with the university's annual MLK Day of Service. Roadrunners are encouraged to participate in the service day, located in various locations, including helping to beautify campus.Various locations, Main Campus
Celebrating the Year of the Rat, the 33rd annual Asian Festival will feature a wide spectrum of Asian cultures with family-friendly events and performances. Enjoy authentic Asian foods with a menu including Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Pakistani, Chinese and Filipino cuisines. Vendors will sell clothing, artwork, dolls, silk items, jewelry and other exotic gifts.Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., San Antonio
Peniel E. Joseph, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at UT Austin, will discuss his book “The Sword and The Shield,” which focuses on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
The Heart Walk will be held at all three campus locations starting at the same time. Support Go Red for Women Day by wearing red.All UTSA campuses
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