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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Leave Your Mark

One donor program allows alumni to carve their names in the university's building blocks

For alumnus Fernando Ortiz Jr. M.A. '14, the thought that thousands of future UTSA students walking along Main Campus's Paseo Principal will be trampling on his name without a care is actually comforting. It's just one reason he decided to buy an engraved brick through the Alumni Association's Pave the Paseo program.

"When I was first presented with the opportunity to add my name to a permanent roster of graduates, I accepted it without a moment's thought," Ortiz says. "That people will regularly step on it reminds me to stay humble, keep my sense of humor and never take myself too seriously. Most important, it reminds me that my time at UTSA was so much fun."

Ortiz, a former journalist, works part-time at UTSA as a research assistant in the Department of History, after receiving his master's in history in December. His brick, which includes the name of his wife, hasn't been placed among others yet in the paseo, but he thought it would be a fun reminder of his time here and a way to give back. The funds raised through the program, according to the Alumni Association, go toward scholarships and various University Center activities.

"The university helped me redefine myself intellectually and creatively," Ortiz says. "My professors challenged me to both leave behind the comforts of my past journalism expertise and also to recast it as a new weapon for an academic world. These fascinating men and women of the history department pushed me far beyond my comfort zone to follow ambitions unimaginable only a few years ago."

Relaunched in 2008, the Pave the Paseo program got a boost with the expansion of the H-E-B University Center. The engraved bricks — as well as dedicated benches — are located between the UC buildings.

paving the way

There are still plenty to be had — about 68,000 are available, according to Anne Englert, director of alumni programs and services. "We need the opportunity to promote Pave the Paseo to all our alumni and invite them to have their very own brick," she says. "One thing that is very exciting is the installation day of each new set of bricks." Installation occurs in the summer and winter.

For some, the program has become something of a group or family affair. The men of Lambda Chi Alpha have purchased bricks for fraternity members who have graduated or were killed during military service. They are installed side by side in the upper corner on the paseo. "We thought it would be a great way to honor our members and serve as a reminder of our time here," says Josh Juarez, fraternity president.

And Englert points to Milt Kramer '84 and Ingrid Faris '83 as examples of alumni who have bought numerous bricks as family members graduate. Faris, once the Alumni Association president, has been active in promoting the university since graduating with a bachelor's in applied science in 1983. She would one day like to see the program become so successful that student names fill the paseo. "They're really nice to go back to look at," she says. "You put your heart and soul into being at UTSA and getting your degree. Your university becomes part of you. It's a way to say 'I was here.'"

–Michelle Mondo


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