Commencement Close-Up: Katrina evacuee from Houston Itza Carbajal finds success at UTSA through local and international nonprofit work
(Dec. 20, 2012) -- "Open up your horizons and experience all the diversity the San Antonio area has to offer." That's the advice 22-year-old College of Liberal and Fine Arts graduate Itza Carbajal would offer to future UTSA students.
"Don't just stick to the Main Campus -- try the Downtown Campus, Boerne, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels and the surrounding communities as well," she said.
Prospective students would be wise to take her advice. Though she is young, Carbajal already has visited four countries, either studying abroad or doing nonprofit work to help the less fortunate.
A New Orleans native of Honduran descent, she came to UTSA to pursue a double major in history and English after relocating to Houston following the devastation from Hurricane Katrina.
"It was supposed to be a temporary situation, so we left in a caravan with my mom's friends and decided we would all help each other get back on our feet," said Carbajal. "My mom saw the value in the educational resources there, so we decided to stay there so I could finish my education."
After graduating and considering several out-of-state schools, she decided to attend UTSA because it was in an urban area, and because she thought it would be best for her to succeed in her studies.
During her junior year, Carbajal participated in a study-abroad program in Italy and took advantage of the rail transportation system, visiting 50 cities over a five-month period.
"I enjoy the experiences of traveling, so I would finish class Thursday night, then come back Monday morning before my first class would start," said Carbajal. "I figured it would be a waste if I did not expose myself to the cultures of the other nearby cities while I had the opportunity."
While studying overseas, Carbajal worked for a nonprofit co-op and visited neighboring European countries to assist the downtrodden. Nonprofit work has always been in her blood. Throughout her life, she traveled back to Honduras annually to visit relatives and work with orphan children.
"I was basically a big sister to 30 children who did not have parents, were removed from abusive homes or lived among the homeless," said Carbajal. "A lot of it was just talking and listening to them, since many were neglected and came from homes that did not have loving or understanding environments."
Currently, Carbajal works at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, where she spearheads several nonprofit projects.
"Sometimes I am organizing, other times I am on the streets circulating petitions. Then, there are times when I am on the phone contacting the elderly who may not have access to the Internet and are not aware of issues taking place in their communities," she said.
After graduation, she plans to take a year off before pursuing graduate and doctoral degree studies in nonprofit management. Her plans include earning a law degree.
Ben Olguin, Honors College assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships and associate professor of English, nominated Carbajal for a Soros Fellowship. The fellowship helps children of immigrants pay for graduate school.
"Ms. Carbajal is a once-in-a-lifetime student who has managed to make her individual education resonate far beyond her own life," said Olguin. "She cares in a smart way, which has led her to identify the next steps she needs to undertake to continue serving humanity, one locality at a time."
The announcement of the recipients of the Soros fellowships will come in January.
Led by UTSA Campus Recreation, these in-person group exercise sessions provide survivors a safe space to focus on their bodies' power to foster a sense of agency. Bring your mask and yoga mat and experience a soothing sound bath at sunrise. Students must register online before attending these sessions.Recreation and Wellness Center, Main Campus
Communication between parents and youth can be difficult and the stress of COVID-19 and virtual learning may have made things worse. This is an opportunity for parents and youth, ages 9-17, to learn and share how to enchance communication.Virtual Event
The virtial event will feature undergraduate student research and creative endeavors from across the university. Students who have participated in research experiences beginning summer 2020 through Spring 2021 are invited to participate.Virtual Event
By participating in this training you will feel more prepared to recognize potential harm on a spectrum, decide how you would respond in certain situations and take action to keep our Roadrunner Community safe.Virtual Event
At UTSA, there are many ways to connect with others, gain relevant career experience, and leave your mark at a world-ranked university. With over 300 student organizations, there’s something for everyone at UTSA. Hear from various UTSA Students Leaders about their life as a Roadrunner and why UTSA is their new home.Virtual Event
This course is offered by UTSA's Employee Assistance Program EAP Deer Oaks. Every new beginning comes from something else ending, and in our ever changing world, it is essential to develop the ability topositively cope with change. This session provides participants with the insight to understand the nature of change and learn how to effectively deal with both the losses and the gains that change brings to one’s life.Virtual Event
On April 28, 2021, millions of people across the world will wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate themselves and others about all forms of sexual violence. To support this movement our donation drive will be items that we will be putting together to make Care Kits. These Care Kits are for students, faculty and staff to get in case of an emergency and they need to leave the situation they're in ASAP and do not have time to pack.Ximenas Ave Garage