Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Program supporting multiple generations helps UTSA grad Domingo Figueroa earn his master’s

Program supporting multiple generations helps UTSA grad Domingo Figueroa earn his master’s

CLASS OF 2022

DECEMBER 12, 2022 — Domingo Figueroa took inspiration from his own life and family as he charted his course to complete his master’s in higher education administration. Figueroa, who is graduating this month, is not your typical student. He was raised by a single working mother, Paula Garcia, with the help of his grandparents, Julian R. Garcia and Simplicia C. Garcia.  

Figueora recalls that his mother was the “sole provider, working two jobs just to make ends meet. If it wasn’t for my grandparents, I wouldn’t be anything I am today. I’ve always had a soft heart for grandparents who are taking on that additional load.”

Being a first-generation college student meant many new experiences and new challenges for Figueroa as he learned to navigate his way. Since his mother was providing for the family, Figueroa’s grandparents took on more of the parenting role. Raising a grandchild and guiding him through college was new to them.


“I wanted to focus on students being raised by their grandparents because there’s such a generational gap and also college awareness gap.”



When Figueroa was 16 years old, he served as a camp counselor on the southside of San Antonio and realized that many of the kids there were also raised by grandparents. The experiences he witnessed in his family and in the community became the inspiration for a program that became a part of his master’s degree, “Mi Familia y La Universidad,” which creates a pathway to success for students and the grandparents who support them.

“In developing this program, I wanted to focus on students being raised by their grandparents because there’s such a generational gap and also college awareness gap,” Figueroa said. “The grandparents are trying to do their best and trying to work with what they have. I want this program to provide grandparents with the resources needed so that someday the student might be able to pay it forward and provide that sense of care for the grandparents later on.”

Goals for the program include familiarizing grandparents with college vocabulary, higher education processes and even the opportunity for them to get a degree themselves, Figueroa said.

“Part of the program is also focusing on the student, getting them college access and readiness,” he continues. “A great aspect of this project is that I get to focus on something that I am very passionate about, but it was also critical that the program be able to sustain itself,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa also found inspiration from a course taught by Vanessa A. Sansone, assistant professor of higher education in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He was able to develop his program in her class then present it at the Texas Males Student Leadership Summit at the University of Texas at Austin.

Asked what helped him navigate college, Figueroa said, “I owe a lot to the faculty here at UTSA. It is because of professors like Dr. Sansone that I have come out of my shell and really pushed myself to do new things and be able to be passionate about projects like this that hit close to home.”

“Domingo is a good person,” Sansone said. “He demonstrates the qualities of our social justice leaders who are working within the field of higher education to advance social justice for historically marginalized students.”

After graduation, Figueroa plans to take a moment to just appreciate college for what it was—both the good and stressful parts of being a college student—and be thankful for his amazing educational journey. Then he will move forward into a career where he can better serve students of higher education in San Antonio.

— Digna Diaz



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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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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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