NOVEMBER 29, 2021 — At just 20 years old, Gisselle Torres is preparing to bid UTSA farewell, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication. Completing an undergraduate program at such a young age, especially in a pandemic, has not been easy. Yet, she’s maintained her determination since day one.
Gisselle already had her eyes on college as a freshman at G.W. Brackenridge High School, where she participated in a dual credit program with St. Philip’s College. She started with two dual credit classes. By her senior year, her course load was 100% dual credit.
Gisselle’s desire for knowledge drove her toward dual accreditation. Her school’s dual credit option was also attractive because she knew the classes would reduce her college expenses.
By the time she had earned her high school diploma, she also had earned an associate’s degree from St. Phillip’s. This would save her thousands in tuition.
Gisselle looked forward to a traditional college experience, but only had a semester completed before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted everyday life. She became greatly discouraged by her college experience when all of her classes went online. She still performed well, but she found it hard to keep going at times.
Her friends and family provided continuous encouragement and praise. Throughout her education, her family provided emotional and financial support. She looked for a job so she could support herself, but the pandemic created a job shortage. Despite that, Gisselle sustained her education by living at home with her family and by utilizing financial aid.
“FAFSA allowed me to pay about of half of my tuition. I would tell future UTSA students to never be afraid to take out loans or to apply for FAFSA,” Gisselle said. “There’s a negative view of loans, but they can help in the long run, especially if you do not have the money to pay your tuition each semester. After graduation, I know I will be able to pay most of my loan back.”
Gisselle calls her father, Diego Torres ’99, her hero. Over the last several years, he has shared stories about his own Roadrunner experiences to encourage her pursuit of higher education.
“He gave me advice about how to not let people discourage me from getting my degree. Most of his friends had dropped out of college and this discouraged him,” she said. “Hearing his story made me realize that I should not get discouraged. One needs to find new friends, not to hang on to old ones who will put me in the wrong direction. At UTSA, I’ve made many new friends who are proud that I am graduating early, and for that I am forever thankful.”
Gisselle will cross the UTSA Commencement stage as part of the Honor Society. She plans to find a job as a content editor or as a social media manager. Eventually, she aims to relocate to a bigger city such as Dallas or Houston.
“During the pandemic, music from groups like BTS motivated me and kept me mentally healthy. Now, I want to go to more concerts—live a fuller life,” said the 20-year-old.
Come celebrate the doctoral students graduating this commencement season.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms, UTSA Main Campus
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the College for Health, Community and Policy, College of Liberal and Fine Arts and College of Sciences.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
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