Meet a Roadrunner: Rebecca Conejo reflects on legacy of student involvement
(March 29, 2017) -- Meet Rebecca Conejo. She's one of the coordinators behind the new UTSA Roadrunner Pantry, and a long-time advocate of helping others.
Born in Baytown, Texas, near Houston, Conejo, 21, is the oldest of three siblings. Her mother, a registered nurse, was a single mother for much of her life and led her children by example. She taught them the merits of doing good in the community and would encourage them to tackle new challenges head on.
"My mom is my greatest role model," Conejo said. "She's always inspired me to do as much as I can for the people around me. It's why I feel like helping students through service is going to be my legacy once I graduate this May."
Early on in her UTSA career, Conejo joined the staff at the UTSA University Center (UC). The UC is one of the busiest hubs on Main Campus, and it's where she's spent the majority of her time on campus. For more than three years, Conejo has been employed there in different capacities. She's now a student manager in the UC's Business Office and the chair of the UC Advisory Council.
As a member of the UC staff, Conejo has traveled to conferences across the country to learn from student affairs professionals. She's also led volunteering efforts and helped coordinate new initiatives at the UC alongside other student leaders on campus. One of her favorite projects was the creation of the UTSA Roadrunner Pantry, which opened earlier this month.
"The UC is an incredibly tight-knit group," Conejo said. "You tend to work closely with everyone there in some way or another. That's how I met Nikki Lee, the UC's senior associate director of events management. We found that we shared this love for volunteering and then met to discuss the different volunteering opportunities we could bring to the UC staff. Those idea we threw around eventually became the Roadrunner Pantry."
The UTSA Roadrunner Pantry, the collaborative effort of more than a dozen UTSA students, faculty and staff, is helping reduce food insecurity on campus. Located in UC North Room (UC 1.04.06), next to the UPS store, the pantry is set up like a grocery store. Students can pick up non-perishable items like canned foods and toiletries free of charge with their university IDs.
"In five or ten years, no one will remember the people behind the food pantry," Conejo said. "Very few people will remember those of us who worked day and night to get it going. But if it helps students make it through school without going hungry, I'm okay with my legacy being a silent one."
Conejo's also been involved in many student and community organizations. In her freshman year, Conejo joined the Paisano, UTSA's independent student-run newspaper, and wrote and edited stories about different aspects of student life on campus. She also worked as the newspaper's social media editor. For two years, she helped bring student voices to the forefront of the publication in different ways, an experience that inspired her to get involved in other ways.
She later joined the UTSA Student Government Association as the Legislative Affairs Director where she has helped organize voter registration drives and coordinated efforts. For the past few years, she's also volunteered for MOVE San Antonio, a local nonprofit that encourages civic engagement.
As her time at UTSA winds down, the English major looks forward to crossing the stage at commencement this May. In the future, she hopes to go into public service in some capacity, using the lessons she's learned from her family and at UTSA as her guide.
"Before I left home to attend UTSA, my youngest brother, David, asked me what it was I wanted to do with my life," Conejo said. "I remember telling him I wasn't sure, and he said, 'That's okay, but whatever you end up doing, make sure you're doing something good.' That's something I've taken with me all these years, and I'll take with me moving forward."
Do you know a Roadrunner who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may consider your suggestion for our next installment of Meet a Roadrunner.
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