Community Connect
Office of the Vice President for Community Services

Extended Education

Advocate and Empower:

Paralegal Program Graduate Gives Back

By Jeff Berry

Lupe Decker helps out UTSA paralegal student. - Photo courtesy of Jeff Berry.

Lupe Decker helps out UTSA paralegal student.
- Photo courtesy of Jeff Berry.

UTSA Paralegal Program graduate Lupe Decker uses her career experiences to relate and inspire.

The San Antonio native received her paralegal certificate in 1991, and after twenty-five years, Decker continues to return to UTSA each semester to translate the ebb and flow of her career trajectory to incoming paralegal students.

A life-long student of advocacy, Decker has found a way to use her passion for empowering others by going back to the genesis of her academic success. “As a Latina, I learned very early on that education and the right skill set would be my pathway to success,” said Decker. “I’ve overcome many obstacles professionally and in those experiences are lessons to share.”

Since her completion of the Paralegal Program, Decker has earned both a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in counseling, as well as certifications in juvenile probation.

Immediately after receiving her certificate, Decker began her career in law as a paralegal for a local criminal attorney. Now as a Bexar County Juvenile Probation Officer, Decker contributes her career success to the skills she learned at UTSA, “I truly believe I would not have received the opportunities to be part of state, city and county agencies that I am honored to have been a part of, without first starting in the Paralegal Program.” said Decker.

In the classroom, Decker shows paralegal students how to utilize their new skill set to advance academically and professionally. “The research, case management and writing skills I developed have been my most valuable tools throughout my career,” said Decker. “I want the students to understand that many doors will open if they fully commit to their education.”

Although Decker’s purpose is to embolden students, each time she returns, she is humbled by the students' daily sacrifices. “Many of the students in attendance work full-time, have children or family responsibilities, and commit long hours studying on the weekends,” said Decker. “I am honored every time I am invited to speak; their level of commitment inspires me.”

The Paralegal Certificate Program is designed and taught by local, practicing attorneys to prepare students to be knowledgeable, ethical, and effective while emphasizing legal areas where paralegals are most in demand. “The presence of Lupe strengthens our mission,” said Gloria Brownell, Paralegal Program coordinator. “She is a constant reminder to our students that success has many avenues.”