Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Professors, resources key to twin sisters’ graduation from UTSA at age 20

Professors, resources key to twin sisters’ graduation from UTSA at age 20

CLASS OF 2022

MAY 3, 2022 — Around this time of year, the average 20-year-old student is wrapping up their sophomore year in college and preparing for the next semester.

But twin sisters Breannah and Savannah Ruesga are counting down the days until they put on their commencement regalia and walk the stage as part of UTSA’s spring Class of 2022, at just 20 years old.

Breannah will earn her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a digital concentration and a minor in professional writing. Savannah will receive a Bachelor of Arts in business administration in management.

Completing their degrees early has been a goal of theirs since they were 15 years old.

When the San Antonio natives were in the seventh grade, their parents decided to move them from the public school system and to begin homeschooling classes. By the time the Ruesgas reached 10th grade, they were already earning college credit thanks to the Dual Credit program at St. Philip’s College.


“It has been a long time coming. We are ready. Like Savannah said, we have been doing this since we were 15.”





“Around 8th or 9th grade, our parents learned about the requirements to graduate and saw that there were a lot of courses that we didn’t need,” Savannah said. “We did not need trigonometry or all these extra classes. They thought there was no sense in wasting time and said, ‘Let us just start you guys in the dual credit system, so you can start getting classes that work toward your college career.’

We skipped 11th and 12th grade by adding the dual credit program to our homeschooling.”

Between taking college-level courses at just 15 years of age and eventually testing out of a semester’s worth of classes, the sisters were ahead of the game at an incredibly early age.

“We thought we could get ahead and tackle college faster, so we could hit the workforce faster,” Breannah said.

The twins completed a semester of dual credit and a full year-and-a-half at St. Phillip’s before Breannah ran out of communication courses to take at the community college. In 2020, the sisters decided to transition to UTSA during their second semester as sophomores.

“When we were deciding where to transfer, UTSA was a no-brainer. It is closer to home, so we could stay with our family,” Breannah said. “We love being together, so separating us would have been difficult. UTSA was also one of the schools that would accept our father's military benefits. There were these benefits that had been sitting there unused for so many years. Now they can finally be used.”

As transfer students, Breannah and Savannah have been in good company. UTSA is the hometown university of Military City USA, and it serves one of the nation’s largest active and retired military populations. About 16% of the university’s students are affiliated with the military. They include active-duty military members, veterans, reserves/guard, and their spouses and dependents. Additionally, transfer students comprise about 38% of UTSA’s total undergraduate population.

UTSA runs in the blood of the Ruesga family.

“Our stepmom went to UTSA to get her master’s in counseling. She knew it was a good school and thought we would do well as Roadrunners,” Savannah said.

While the Ruesgas were finally ready to join campus life, the pandemic had other ideas for spring 2020.

“At first it was a total bummer. We got to campus around January and were enjoying the new experience when the pandemic affected everybody,” Savannah said. “After being homeschooled for so long, you want to see people again. I am very social, and I love to be around people.”

Nevertheless, the twin sisters were not going to let detours hinder their plans of graduating from the university early.

“We had the mindset that we’re graduating two years early, so this pandemic wasn’t going to slow us down,” Savannah said. “We are not going to stop and wait until things get better to continue our education. We use it as bragging rights now. Some people ask you what you are doing in school, and it is fun to impress them because we are ahead of the game. That was a big motivator. We are not quitters. We persevered regardless of how difficult things got.”

Amid the pandemic and staying on track with school, the two sisters also worked in the food service industry. Breannah also maintained her status as a student worker on campus.

“It was interesting trying to juggle it all, as it took up a chunk of our time that we could have been using to work on classwork,” Breannah said. “However, we knew that we would be building our skills in time management. We simply adapted it to our schedules and worked on schoolwork as best we could to keep from falling behind. Our managers were also very flexible with our schedules as they knew we were busy with school, so that helped us out a lot.”

Both sisters said UTSA professors and on-campus resources played a large role in helping them stay on track.

“We utilized the library, both for its study rooms as well as the technology rentals. We have taken advantage of the library's laptop rentals, as we both have desktops, and laptops have been unaffordable for us,” Savannah said. “Rentals have been a huge help for us in taking our classes ‘on the go.’"

With Commencement coming up, both sisters are ready for what life has in store next.

Savannah, who majored in business administration with a management focus, is ready to hit the ground running in a job she has already secured with Marriot Hotels.

“I am more of a leader than a follower, and I see that in a lot of the classes I am in. I take initiative,” Savannah said. “With my management degree, that’s what I hope to do.”

Savannah will join Marriot’s Leadership Development Program, which will allow her to learn the ins and outs of the hotel industry for a year.

“It is a highly competitive program. They only hire 500 people a year internationally,” she said. “At the end of the year, I will be close to the management level because of all the training. By the end of that year, I will find out if the hotel industry is something I really like and want to do and continue climbing that chain.”

While Breannah is still researching career possibilities following graduation, she is ready to use all the skills she acquired from her classes at UTSA.

“I look forward to applying everything I’ve done for my degree so far into something,” Breannah said. “I always hear these stories of people getting their degrees but never using it. I want to use it. I think something I want to do is focus on the digital aspect of the degree like web building or something that uses Adobe. I want to follow the artsy side of things without having an art degree.”

Breannah and Savannah said they are excited to be reaching the finish line.


EXPLORE FURTHER
Discover the Department of Communication in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
Learn more about the transfer admission to UTSA.

“It has been a long time coming. We are ready. Like Savannah said, we have been doing this since we were 15,” Breannah said. “Now we can finally show what we have done after talking about it all these years. For us, it is a big accomplishment because our birth mom did not go to college, so it was harder for her. We want to make sure we do not have such a difficult future for us and our family. We want to sustain ourselves with or without someone else.”

UTSA is a Tier One research university and a Hispanic Thriving Institution that puts students first by cultivating an environment that focuses on their success. As a multicultural, next-generation institution where students from all backgrounds can excel, the university serves as a prosperity engine by educating and training graduates who are well-prepared to address the workforce needs of our city and state to excel in a global economy.

Valerie Bustamante Johnson



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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