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Xavier Grizzelle

December 17, 2014//

Meet Xavier Grizzelle. Saving people's lives has always been his passion.

I have learned a lot here at UTSA. Being at a major university has just broadened my horizon.

– Xavier Grizzelle

It's what motivated the Jamaican to answer the call when the United States government was looking for civilian firefighters for its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's what inspired him to put his life on the line for others during his five years as a fireman. And it's what encouraged him to enroll in the UTSA Community Health program in the College of Education and Human Development when his wife was stationed in San Antonio.

But his road to UTSA was not an easy one.

In 2009, Grizzelle's wife, Toni, was given permanent change of station orders to San Diego from Guantanamo Bay. This would be Grizzelle's first time living in America and his first time on the West coast.

Three weeks after relocating to San Diego, Grizzelle's wife deployed, leaving him to care for their four-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son in a new country with no family or friends. In the midst of it all, Grizzelle decided to go back to school, enrolling in the Fire Technology and Emergency Medical Technician program at Miramar College.

"It was my first time going to college," said Grizzelle. "I excelled and graduated with the highest honors possible at the college. I graduated in 2011 with a 4.0 and received my certificate in fire protection and an associate's degree."

In the span of two years, Grizzelle's wife deployed three times, and sustained a knee injury while playing soccer, leaving him unable to return to firefighting. Still Grizzelle persevered and found a new calling within the medical field: nursing.

When his family relocated to San Antonio, he looked for universities that would help him pursue a career in nursing. When he discovered UTSA, he knew it was the perfect fit.

"I have learned a lot here at UTSA," he said. "Being at a major university has just broadened my horizon. Being in San Antonio has broadened by horizon. Here, they have the Army and the Air Force. We are Navy, so we are experiencing other branches of the military culture for the first time."

This semester, Grizzelle used his expertise as a military spouse in UTSA's Center for the Well-Being of Military Children and Families. Here, he's helped military families in a much different way.

The center has created partnerships between the COEHD, the San Antonio military community, local agencies, organizations and institutions. Additionally, it continues to work closely with local school districts.

"We have seen the impact of our services on these families here in the center," he said. "A small example is giving UTSA football tickets to military families through a collaboration with the Roadrunner Athletics Department. The simplest of things can sometimes be the best of things."

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

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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.

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