OCTOBER 7, 2020 — Entering a bachelor’s degree program after being out of school for nearly 20 years, while working full-time, with two children, and during a global pandemic might be too much for most people. But to anyone who knows Desiree Vitale ’20, they know she is not like most people.
Vitale began as a freshman at UTSA 19 years ago but dropped out because she was eager to start a career. She was ambitious, she explained, and began working three jobs. At 19 years old she started her career as a detention officer at the magistrate’s office in San Antonio.
Her work ethic and ambition quickly made itself clear to her supervisors. She began working with youth for a special community service program at the municipal court while working as a detention officer, and her manager recommended her for a position as a case manager.
“I didn’t have a degree, which was a requirement,” Vitale explained. “But because they liked the way I worked with the youth, they moved forward and allowed my years of experience to substitute for education.”
Vitale spent several years as a juvenile court case manager, but it was clear to her that to keep moving forward, she needed that degree. So she returned to UTSA part-time with some trepidation, since she was a working mother.
She began in the public administration program in 2017, while raising a new son and with the support of her manager and colleagues. It was abundantly clear that her professors at UTSA wanted her to succeed—especially when less than a year after she began—she gave birth to her second son.
“I had my son on August 18, the week classes began,” Vitale said. “I emailed professor Patricia Jaramillo and asked if, perhaps, I could bring my son with me to class.”
The answer was a resounding yes—after Jaramillo insisted that she take the first week off. “She would hold him while we worked on projects,” Vitale said. “She was so incredibly supportive, and that kind of support was what I needed to succeed.”
“Vitale’s perspective offered legitimacy for coursework and topics in my undergraduate classes that could only be contributed by a student who was a working professional in the public sector,” Jaramillo said. “Her commitment to completing her studies and the energy she brought to her studies was motivating.”
That motivation propelled Vitale to finish her degree early, and she graduated this past summer. In the meantime, she had earned a promotion at work to chief deputy court clerk.
“Desiree earned a promotion in the early months of the pandemic and the final months of her time at UTSA,” lecturer Gina Amatangelo said. “She juggled professional, family and academic commitments with tremendous grace. We’re fortunate to have leaders like Desiree in our program.”
This isn’t the end for Vitale. She has applied for the master’s in public administration program at UTSA, and aspires to a career at City Hall—perhaps even a place on city council. “Everyone working on the city council is extremely educated,” she said. “And I want to emulate that.”
How does she continue to do it? At a time when many of us are struggling and burned out, dealing with new challenges and changing lifestyles, Vitale demonstrates the resiliency of a Roadrunner.
“Everything is hard all of the time,” she said. “Just push yourself and keep going.”
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The Center for Collegiate Recovery presents a discussion series on Recovery. Join the discussion with Dr. Robb Kelly and learn how to build and sustain recovery from addiction. Be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and enriched!Virtual Event
The tuba and euphonium students of Prof. Gary Poffenbarger will perform remotely in a live-streamed concert to be transmitted via the Department's Facebook page. The students will perform live, from their homes taking turns logging in when they are up and logging off when they are done so the next performer can log in, etc. until the recital is finished.Virtual Event
Are you interested in learning more about how RowdyLink can assist your Student Organization? Are you a new organization leader and want to learn some basics regarding RowdyLink? Please join us at our RowdyLink Lunch and Learn Series. We will be going over various parts of RowdyLink during each series such as Managing your Roster, Mobile Check-In, Managing and Creating Forms, creating events and more.Virtual Event
Chomp and Chat is a series of conversations held casually during lunch on a specific topic. The topic for Oct 28 is cultural appropriation. We will talk the concept in general, but also as it appears during Halloween and Día de los Muertos.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Spiritual Wellbeing with Counseling and Mental Health Services.Virtual Event
Join us for a drive-thru event from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 30 to give back during this election period. Roadrunners will have the opportunity to give back to the community and get the information needed to make your voice heard for your community. During this experience, you can drive up to make a donation to the Roadrunner Pantry and get all of the voting information you need to early vote this election.Outside Recreation Wellness Center
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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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.