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.
“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.
“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.
UTSA students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to raise their voices and participate in the upcoming joint primary runoff election. Any registered Bexar County voter may vote at the H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102).Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), H-E-B Student Union, Main Campus
Join fellow UTSA accounting alumni for this fun-filled event that includes breakfast, a round of golf, an awards luncheon and great prizes. All proceeds from the tournament benefit student scholarships.Canyon Springs Golf Club, 24405 Wilderness Oak, San Antonio, TX 78260
UTSA students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to raise their voices and participate in the upcoming joint primary runoff election. Election day is Tuesday, May 24. Any registered Bexar County voter may vote at the H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102).Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), H-E-B Student Union, Main Campus
Please join us Wednesday, May 25, 2022 for a discussion with Colonel (ret) Michael Davis, MD, FACS, FRCS (Hon), former Director of the U.S. Combat Casualty Care Research Program. Dr. Davis will discuss how to best identify strengths at UTSA that can be effectively leveraged for funding proposals to the Department of Defense.UTSA Business Building University Room (2.06.04), Main Campus
UTSA is excited to introduce new flexible learning spaces available to the Roadrunner community. During this orientation, interested faculty will be guided through examples of innovative learning activities supported by these spaces and provided with an overview of relevant technical features.Virtual Event
Do you find yourself more worried than usual about our students? Would you like to feel more confident in your ability to provide support or assistance to them? We are pleased to announce this new brownbag professional development opportunity for you, Compassion Fatigue Training, that will be offered June 1, 2022.Faculty Center Large Conference Room (JPL 4.04.12C), Main Campus
The Faculty Coffee Chat is designed to provide faculty members the space to discuss current issues they are facing in an inclusive and supportive environment.Virtual Event
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.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
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.