sydney on her first day in her residence hall room and her last day
Me on my first and last day in my residence hall room.
By Sydney Rhodes '23

As I steeped some tea in my favorite mug, I got ready to go to class for the first time since I left campus for spring break. This time, however, my routine looked a lot different from the rhythm I’d established of having morning coffee with my roommate and journaling before heading to class. Now, I sat in front of my computer and waited for the camera settings to boot up, 250 miles away from my residence hall.

The Trinity community and I have been taking classes remotely for nearly two weeks now, and it has been a crazy transition. When I think about everything that has changed since I left campus less than four weeks ago, it feels more like several months have passed. Back then, my friends and I walked around campus saying, “When we come back from spring break, let’s go see this movie,” or “After spring break, let’s do this thing.” Of course, none of us could have predicted that a pandemic would prevent our return to campus.

I got the email notifying me that I would not be allowed campus for the rest of the semester the Wednesday of our spring break. I remember sitting in my kitchen totally dazed. I had to move out. I had to say goodbye to all of my new friends. I had to close a chapter of my life that I felt hadn’t truly started yet. I realized that I was not going to get to watch my senior friends graduate, enjoy the last days in my first-year residence hall, or experience any of the things my friends and I had planned.

All of my classes moved to Zoom, and routines I had grown accustomed to in the last six months were out the window. Suddenly, the independence and the friends that I’d gained at college disappeared. It felt impossible to get any work done for the first two weeks back. I couldn’t find the motivation to keep up the pace I had maintained back on campus now that I was home. Fortunately, it didn’t stay that way.

I found a way to keep some of my old routines and adapted to living at home again. I still join my friends in Reformed University Fellowship twice a week through Zoom, and my Trinity friends have made it clear that 250 miles are not going to stop us from making memories together. We’ve made plans for many virtual movie nights, and we just signed up to live together in the fall.

sydney's work space and dog
My new workspace now involves a dining table and my dog. 
As for classes, things are the same as ever, except now class is interrupted by professors showing off students whose dogs have managed to sneak into the frame. I found that keeping the pace got easier once I dedicated a space to my studies and timed things so that I could take a break from school with my family in the evenings. It’s not an ideal situation, but for now, we will continue to make the most of it. My dog and I will continue to attend my classes through Zoom, and the Trinity community will look forward to coming together again in the fall.

To share your own story during this time of transition, email

danyal on stage

By Danyal Tahseen '19

Being involved in Trinity’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) defined much of my undergraduate journey. People often ask me the question, “What do you notice is different ever since you moved to America?” I’ve never been able to answer that question with enough justice. I was raised most of my life in Pakistan, a Muslim country. It’s crazy to have spent 18 years in a space where most of the people share the same beliefs and customs as me. Even crazier was to form my identity there and then come in to a space where my community’s right to exist is consistently under question. Immigrating meant that I had to learn to be a minority for the first time in my life. I couldn’t just say what I want, I couldn’t just talk about Ramadan and expect people to know what it is, and I couldn’t write Islamophobia off as a distant problem delivered through a screen—I had to actually endure it.

My first year at Trinity, I quickly learned how people’s expressions would change when I mentioned I was Muslim. Their eyes would widen, their breath would quicken. I could hear them thinking: “What do I say next?” I was slowly conditioned to think, “Maybe I should be quieter about my identity.” I have to admit how surprised I had been at the lack of a Muslim community at Trinity. I wasn’t sure if I was unique or just lonely.

This isolating reality first hit me during my first Ramadan at Trinity. In Pakistan, Ramadan was a huge moment for bonding and community where everyone could share what it feels like to be in pain. At sunset, entire families and even neighborhoods would come together to break their fast, share food, and celebrate each other’s company. My first Ramadan at Trinity, though? Having no Muslim friends or family here, I waited for the Ramadan app on my iPhone to tell me when it was time to eat. I spent my first Ramadan microwaving Hot Pockets in my dorm rather than celebrating it with people who could understand. I ran into a friend two hours later who said, “Oh isn’t it Rama-damn today?” It seems silly in retrospect, but at that time, when he said that to me after I was starving for 14 hours alone, with no one to share that pain with, I just really wanted to throw a Hot Pocket at him.

students performing on stage
The cold truth is, as a minority, your culture may not matter to most people unless they find a way to commodify it. They don’t care about—or even dislike—hijabs until Vogue declares it’s cool to wear a headscarf. They don’t care about the challenges of having dark skin or ethnic features until Ariana Grande gets a tan. People on campus have told me that they don’t like the smell of my mom’s cooking, but once it’s a trend, the same people tell me “OMG, I love nan bread. Have you tried it?” Some people will try to cherry-pick the parts of your culture that serve their aesthetic, without caring about the story behind it.

During my first year, I was in a mass media class when a student said, “I just read this article about how Muslims shouldn’t hold political office because their values conflict with the Constitution and, by the way, don’t they hate gay people?” My breath quickened. Imagine, for the first time in your life, having your identity questioned in a room where no one else shared it. Imagine, in one instant, losing the small part of you that always wanted to believe that discrimination against your kind only existed on TV. It took every bit of courage in me, as a young, timid first-year, to stop hiding my identity and speak up. I said, “I’m sorry you’ve had reason to believe these things are true. I don’t want to change your mind, but as someone who has been raised Muslim and is actually part of that community, I want to offer my perspective.”

That experience in my mass media class is what encouraged me to take on a leadership role for my community on campus and revive the Muslim Student Association (MSA). This role was a big
turning point for me. I stopped complaining about how “no one gets me” and tried to turn my negative experiences into an opportunity to pinpoint what misconceptions people hold. During Hijab Awareness Month, someone posted onto the Trinity Overheard Facebook page that no feminist should support wearing a hijab because it symbolized female oppression. I subsequently started a conversation with that person. I don’t think I changed their mind, but I tried to use that conversation to productively raise awareness about what the hijab represents to Muslim women—something a lot of people genuinely don’t know. That experience is what spawned the Hijab Fashion Show that’s been part of MSA’s biggest event, Henna Night (now called Nur Night), for the past 3 years.

student receiving henna tattoo
For every moment of triumph, I felt many moments of exhaustion and defeat during my tenure as president of MSA. I heard about the awful atrocities afflicting Muslims in Burma; about Christchurch; about the Muslims in China that are being sent to concentration camps and having their every move watched. Imagine organizing events about these atrocities and watching your peers coming in, not to offer you compassion, but to take the free food at your event and leave. Imagine your closest friends never even coming at all. Imagine hosting a discussion panel about what it means to be Muslim, as if you must translate your experience in order for it to deserve validity. Imagine how difficult it is to talk over and over again about the hateful things people have said to you. Imagine seeing people only ask you about your life when it’s for extra credit. Imagine overhearing people ask why the Muslims on campus aren’t doing more—all five of us.

So when people ask me, “What do you notice is different ever since you moved to America?”... I guess I’m what’s different. I often get stuck explaining myself in spaces where I feel like the other. Carrying that responsibility has never seemed fair, but I’ve learned to find power in it. I hope that the next generation of Muslim students who come to Trinity will have an easier time. I hope that they don’t have to defend their religion during a class about newspapers. I hope they don’t have to eat Hot Pockets in their room for the biggest religious holiday of the year, but rather have a community to share that joy with. Most of all, I hope they have people like you who continue to care and listen to their stories.

The tail end of my undergraduate journey has seen many promising changes thanks to the establishment of the new Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO). Through the DIO, I found a renewed attitude that I carried with me into the school year, and found company to foster that. Due to my role as president of MSA, I became a member of the DIO advisory board and sat down for monthly meetings alongside the leaders of every other cultural, racial, and identity-oriented organization on campus. To my left, I had the president of PRIDE. To my right, I had the president of the Black Student Union. It was like being on Celebrity Big Brother: Activist edition! It was so cathartic to, for the first time, be connected with other student leaders who understood the unique struggle of serving as voices for communities that aren’t usually heard. I felt like these walls had broken down around me and I was finally surrounded by people who were fighting similar battles.

Danyal with performers
At the same time, seeing the amazing work these other students had done for their respective communities reminded me that my work as an activist matters. And most importantly, being in such great company taught me a very humbling lesson: I realized that so much of my work as president of MSA was directed towards issues facing the Muslim community, rather than paying attention to being an ally for all other marginalized communities. Being involved with the DIO helped me appreciate the hardships of other groups and actively participate in their battles, too. It also started conversations on intersectionality and empowered students who belonged to multiple communities, rather than feeling like they have to subscribe to one particular identity to fit in the social climate on campus.

Outside of the advisory board meetings and discussion panels, I also started visiting the DIO to study or hang out with other students, many of whom are also culturally conscious. The DIO has become not only a lynchpin for educational initiatives and workshops on allyship, but also just a great physical space to chat with people I don’t normally share classes with. In doing so, I found a space and community that I’ve struggled to find in my social circles as a STEM student where these issues often get overlooked or downplayed. It always confused me why privilege was suddenly too difficult of a topic for people who want to make a living on quantum physics or genetic engineering. The DIO has finally given me the company of people who make me feel comfortable sharing my story and, in reciprocation, become more educated by listening to theirs. This increased sensitivity to other identities empowered me to have deeper relationships with my residents as an RA, and enabled me to respectfully intervene when I witnessed moments of insensitivity within and outside the residence halls.

It is particularly powerful to have a DIO on campus to serve as a conduit between minority voices
and administrative bodies. During my first year at Trinity, I had concerns about dining issues at Mabee. As a Muslim, I am not allowed to consume pork or bacon. Because of the small Muslim population on campus, there wasn’t much communication made to the dining staff about the dietary restrictions we faced. There were numerous times when I was served unlabeled meat and was unable to find answers about what I was being given. There were even a couple occasions when the lack of care in compartmentalizing ingredients led to pieces of pork finding their way into my veggie omelette. It is incredibly difficult to convey how distressing it is to a Muslim to be halfway through a meal and to find a piece of pork in your teeth. I made attempts to communicate with staff at the dining and administrative level how much this affected me, but I was told it would’ve been too “cost-prohibitive” to make changes that only mattered to a handful of students. Yet through the DIO, I was able to find a voice that was supported by the campus, and that voice helped drive change. Aramark has now imposed regulations on labeling and handling of their meats and pledged to be more sensitive in general towards dietary constraints of students, especially on religious and cultural grounds.

danyal at graduation
As I prepared to graduate, my very last days at Trinity fell during the holy month of Ramadan. During my freshman year, you’ll remember how I had no one else to experience the pain, patience, and palliation that comes with fasting the entire day and then sitting down together for a hard-earned meal. During my senior year, MSA received invitations from the chaplain and professors Sajida Jalalzai, Tahir Naqvi, and Habiba Noor to their homes for a collective dinner. A group of us got together right before the break of dawn to share a last bite in preparation for a full day of fasting. I had the honor of leading my Muslim peers in prayer. It warmed my heart to see the Trinity student body and faculty coming together for Ramadan and Eid, celebrating it as more than just ‘Muslim Christmas’. I will now have a semblance of the community I enjoyed in Pakistan. Thinking back to the freshman version of myself eating microwaved food alone in my room after 14 hours of fasting, I will finally rediscover the childish joy of sharing a well-deserved Hot Pocket.

danyal with friends

By Abby DeNike '20

This past November, I found myself in a modern art gallery in London staring at a ragged, stained couch on display. I was with a small group of American pre-med students ten miles from the comfort of our science classroom at King’s College London. An exercise in seeing beyond the obvious, we were all struggling to think outside the box. When the art director asked us what we would expect this couch to contain, one girl went for the eloquent and answered “memories.” I blurted out “urine” and then thought, Why is this so much fun? How did I get here?

With my interest in neuroscience and a love for writing, some people consider me a student with diverse interests. While I am fascinated by both subjects, I did not weave these pieces together purposefully to set myself apart. Instead, when I started college, I committed to taking classes that I wanted to and making the rest work in terms of fulfilling the core requirements. Somewhere along the way I found my voice and—I hope—gathered some experiences that will help me contribute to the lives of others.

As a 17-year-old 1,600 miles from home, I entered Trinity confidently, with the expectation of comfort. I knew I could play tennis for the varsity team—I would have a built-in group of friends— and I knew the professors related to students on a personal level, which was my preferred learning style. Coming in, I had an inkling for medicine. I am now completing my last pre-med requisite three years later.
Over these three years, my expectations for my time at Trinity have changed drastically. During the fall semester of my freshman year, my arm would suddenly feel heavy and numb when I was on the court. I had experienced frequent aches and pains from the six days a week I had spent practicing since I was eight years old; it was logical that the shoulder fatigue was just an overuse injury. 

After multiple periods of rest, my arm continued to get worse, and soon my non-dominant hand was struggling too. I began to have symptoms off the tennis court. Raising my hand in class, passing a dinner plate, and carrying my backpack all became challenging and excruciatingly painful activities that prevented me from exercising and disrupted my sleep.

Cut to me spending the next two years traveling with my family all over the West Coast and the state of Texas searching for the ‘fix’ to my problem. Doctors seemed to ask questions rather than answer them: Was it a peripheral nerve injury from a trauma I could not remember? Was my anatomy just out of whack? Was it growing pains? When scans came back with little more than evidence of inflammation, was I imagining it? I have always been ambitious and hard on myself—some doctors suggested that it was all in my head. I felt I was pegged with a character weakness and that the only people who truly believed something was wrong was my family. 

I learned from a guest speaker on campus that patients, when met with an ambiguous diagnosis, handle the uncertainty in a variety of ways. For me, it felt like life had become chaos. I was forced to stop playing tennis. Suddenly, I had lost my favorite part of each day, my team and social identity on campus, my motivation, and the thing, I learned, that had offered me balance for my entire life. Doubt crept into places I had never experienced before. Optimism has always been one of my defining qualities, but after a failed surgery and two years of unsuccessful therapy, it was easier for me to be apathetic towards the whole process. 

I focused on holding on. Needing a new goal to distract myself with, I shifted all my attention and competitive energy to my schoolwork, and life quickly became one-dimensional.

My trajectory changed when a new doctor I was seeing told me that I could be causing permanent damage by my continual attempts to play tennis and that healing would be a lengthy process. I knew then it was time to move on. The same day I announced I was leaving the team to my coach, I was in office hours with Dr. James Shinkle. Perhaps he saw my burnout on that day because he encouraged me to pursue a study abroad course in England. The deadline had passed, but multiple professors generously offered to write letters in a 24-hour period, and I was accepted.

When I went abroad, I took all the courses I had wanted to take at Trinity but had not yet had time to: a class on chronic pain (fitting), a class on poetry, and a class on medical systems and how medicine has impacted art, policy, and history. In these classes, I shadowed doctors who worked in rheumatology, primary care, sexual health, and the ICU, and I learned about chronic pain and what it does to our diets, sleep schedule, and mood. Having felt like I had just lost a big piece of who I was, it was a huge relief to be inspired by my studies again. Importantly, I met people who recognized me as a complete person without knowing my history, and I started to see myself that way. I went on many trips with English friends into the countryside, joined a lacrosse team, and traveled to eight countries.

At King’s College London, I was also surrounded by people who were intrigued by the ambiguity in medicine, like I was. For the first time, writing, science, and my experiences as a patient all seemed to fit together. I realized I want to be a doctor because I want to help patients define the story of their illness and what it means to them. I have empathy for people who are unable to articulate what is happening to them. Whether it is a catatonic woman unable to speak or a patient struggling through chronic pain with no discernible cause, these patients require a doctor who will advocate for them. I believe that if patients play a role in constructing their narrative, they may be empowered to perceive life as broader than their affliction, even when their goals have to change. In my opinion, regaining this sense of identity is an important part of healing that is too often overlooked in our medical system and can have physiological and psychological consequences.

Despite still not having a conclusive diagnosis for my nerve problem, I have been able to turn myself outward again, and I’ve spent the last year rediscovering what inspires me. After two years of focusing most of my energy towards myself and my health, I have enjoyed participating in projects where I can help others. In Washington, I work for a lab that focuses on how to reduce alcoholism in people with severe mental illness through the use of incentives. I really enjoy working with the participants in a clinical setting and watching them become inspired when they are able to reduce their drinking. With the help of science students at Trinity, we have started a program called stEMPOWER, where we perform hands-on science experiments with elementary school students at Lamar Elementary in San Antonio. I still remember the science experiments and dissections I did when I was in elementary school, and we are working to create fun, engaging experiences that may encourage these students to pursue science later on. 

My time spent as a patient, living abroad, and volunteering in the community have shown me how doctors are met with the strenuous and multifaceted project of seeing the patient as a whole person. I am drawn both to the detail and abstraction this task demands. A doctor, I believe, should love the biological complexities of illness and have a deep desire to work out elusive elements. They must be curious, but they cannot get lost in this maze; they also must maintain focus on treating the person, rather than just the disease. After two years of failed treatments, negative tests, and non-answers, there was one doctor who helped me come to terms with my past and shift my attention towards my future. He acted as the catalyst I needed to make changes in my mindset and start healing, whether or not I achieve a full recovery. I also have immense gratitude for the professors and friends at Trinity who have supported me throughout my time here and helped me recognize I am capable of adaptation. It is challenging to learn this for someone—like most hoping for a career in medicine—who always has the next step planned. I have learned that who you are follows you wherever you go, but that does not mean you are incapable of change.

Entering Trinity, I never would have thought that some of my most memorable college moments would be in a modern art gallery in West London instead of on a tennis court in Texas. It was a splendid surprise.

So, answer me this: Does the couch contain urine or memories? Probably both.
By Danielle Treviño '19

It is everyone’s favorite time of year - New Student Orientation (NSO)! College is an exciting time, and NSO is probably one of the most exciting parts. Here are some useful tips to help you survive this week.


As an Orientation Team (O-Team) veteran and San Antonio local, these are tips I would highly recommend every new student remember throughout NSO week and the rest of their time at Trinity.


On behalf of Trinity University, please make your health a priority during NSO week. Our ancient O-Team proverb is Hydrate or Die-Drate.

Hydration is key! San Antonio is very hot, sometimes uncomfortably hot, and we want you all to be safe. We have filtered water stations all over campus, so make sure to carry your reusable water bottle with you throughout the week. In addition to drinking water, make sure to wear comfortable and heat appropriate clothes for move-in day. Although you may not be carrying all the boxes, breathable clothing is still important.


We all know that it is tempting to stay up late talking to your new friends, especially during NSO, but please remember to get a decent amount of sleep. The NSO schedule can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, and that feeling will probably be amplified if you are pulling all-nighters.

Pushing yourself too hard or hiding in your room are not great NSO strategies. Don’t be afraid to sit with random people, and make sure to take a breather once in a while if you feel tired. As a new student, you only get one NSO experience – don’t waste it going through it as a zombie!


Get out of your comfort zone, while also being aware of your limits. Push yourself to engage in things at orientation that might make you a little uncomfortable at first, but remember to always put your own mental and physical health first.

That being said, don’t be afraid to come out of your shell – everyone is new! Everyone’s feeling a little awkward, and odds are they’ll be relieved that you made the first move to talk to them. NSO is the best time to make new friends and establish friendships that will last throughout your time at Trinity. We all know it’s hard, but pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can give you memories and friends for a lifetime! Also, don’t feel embarrassed about feeling homesick; there is a good chance everyone else is feeling the same way. 

ASK.FM (Asking Questions)

Don't be afraid to ask any questions! O-Team, ResLife, faculty, and administration are all here to help you, and they want to help make your transition into college as smooth as possible. O-Team and Res Life both go through training before NSO starts to ensure we can assist new students with any issues that may arise.


You applied and now you have arrived. It’s finally move-in day! We know that is going to be a big day for you and your family, and we want to make your transition as easy as possible. These are some tips and things to expect on move-in day:


As you arrive on campus, you’ll notice a bunch of random people in white t-shirts carrying totes and boxes from cars and taking them into various buildings. Eventually, as your vehicle moves forward, they will approach you and carry your stuff away – do not be alarmed! It’s Team Trinity and they are here to help make the moving process as easy as possible for you and your family.

Team Trinity is a group comprised of current students, faculty, staff, and alumni who volunteer to help move in incoming students. This tradition stems from the students, faculty, and community volunteers who transferred University property from the Woodlawn campus to our current Skyline campus on May 13, 1952. In order to make sure all your belongings go to the correct place, please make sure to label your things with your name and room number!

COOL UPPERCLASSMEN (Meeting your RA and O-Teamer)

Throughout move-in day you are going to meet some really well-informed and energetic upperclassmen who will successfully guide you through New Student Orientation (NSO) week. These students will be your residence hall’s resident assistant (RA) and O-Teamer — we will all be dressed in labeled maroon t-shirts in order to be easily identified.

Utilize your RA and O-Teamer as much as you need to. Please reach out to us; our job is to help you navigate all aspects of NSO week. You’ll also receive your NSO fold-out schedules from us. I would 10/10 recommend NOT losing those!

ALL MY FRIENDS (Ice-breakers)

One of my favorite parts of NSO was doing ice-breakers with my hall and O-Teamer (long live the Class of 2019’s Beze 2nd Even). I remember being understandably nervous to meet my hallmates at first, but once our O-Teamer did various ice-breakers with us we all became friends. O-Teamers are super friendly and will engage you in different activities throughout NSO that will allow for your hall and incoming class to get to know each other better.

Establishing early bonds with my hallmates made me less alone during the rest of NSO. You might feel uncomfortable doing the hall ice-breakers at first, but you’ll be grateful that you did them when you find yourself not wanting to eat in Mabee alone during the first few weeks.


Go to as many events as you can possibly stand; NSO is a great chance to meet new friends, ask questions, and get to know about your new school. These events aren’t “stupid." They have been carefully chosen and refined throughout years of experience. I would highly encourage going to all the orientation events! You get what you give out of orientation.

ON MY HONOR (Convocation)

The convocation is a formal academic ceremony that mirrors graduation four years later; proper decorum and attire are required for students and families in attendance. Although that description isn’t the most exciting, it’s actually a vivid memory from my own NSO experience. Convocation is one of the few NSO events that requires you to dress more formally. In my apartment, I actually have a group picture of my entire first-year hall and RA dressed really nicely for convocation.

If you decide to wear a skirt or dress for convocation, please make sure they are long enough. The reason that’s important is because during convocation you lean over a table to sign the honor code in front of faculty members. We don’t want any embarrassing moments to happen during this ceremony. 

HIGH-FIVE (Playfair)

Endless high-fives. Countless conversations with strangers. The most intense game of rock-paper-scissors in existence. It’s time for Playfair! It’s hard to think of an NSO event more memorable than Playfair. It’s a staple tradition and experience that is unique to Trinity. It is an opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone, meet new people, and engage in fun group activities that are led by O-Team.

Playfair is a high-energy event that can be a bit overwhelming but is fun once you allow yourself to get out of your shell. It’s also a great way to meet a ton of people in a short amount of time. After meeting so many people at Playfair, you’ll probably recognize some of your classmates walking around campus.

SIGN ME UP (Student Involvement Fair)

You've moved in, signed up for classes, and now you're looking for ways to get involved on campus!
Come to our Student Involvement Fair (SIF), which runs at the start of every semester at Trinity. SIF is a great way to meet other students that share the same interests as you!

This is where you find out about academic student groups, Greek life, etc. If you find a group you are interested in, make sure to give them your contact information so you find out about their upcoming meetings or events. If you notice that Trinity doesn’t have a club for something (which I would honestly be shocked by because we literally have a club for everything), you can always start a new club, and you only need ten members!

Pumped for NSO? Learn more!

With this guide in hand, you've got all the tools you need to survive and thrive NSO week. Welcome to Trinity!

About Danielle

Danielle Treviño '19 is a communication and studio art major from San Antonio, Texas, and was last year's O-Team co-captain. She is passionate about bringing people together through a shared appreciation for art and hopes to bridge the relationship between art and the general community. 

As nearly 500 new Trinity graduates stepped out into the real world this month, Tigers from decades past offered advice for newly minted alumni. Read their tips below, and offer your own in the Trinity Alumni Facebook group.

Stepping out into the real world is scary—embrace the unknown.

  1. You may not be handed your dream job because you now have a diploma, but the skills, knowledge, and work ethic you have gained while at Trinity will ensure you’ll end up where you need to be faster than anyone else in life who didn’t receive one from Trinity. - Donald Dimick
  2. Whatever plans you have for the next steps of your life, they will probably not go exactly as you anticipate. Don’t let the stress of uncertainty or roadblocks deter you. Your journey will be the right one as long as you stay true to yourself and believe in your abilities. The unexpected twists and turns along the way will only make your life richer in the long run. - Matt Keidan ’02
  3. Do not fear failure. You cannot succeed if you don’t try new things, and you won’t be great at everything. - Diqui LaPenta ’88
  4. You[r] life journey will not be a straight line in which you will go from success to success. When you fail, make sure you fail forward and embrace the lessons learned. And when you succeed, celebrate. - Marc Jorge Estrella
  5. Take a moment to write down what’s important to you now, your hopes and plans. Save it with your diploma to visit sometime in the future. - Patti Bender ’76

Be grateful for your Trinity education.

  1. Your major does not define you! Put the liberal in your liberal arts education and think outside the box. - Laura Wojtalak Morrison
  2. Be flexible! You do not know where your great education will take you! Be grateful for your liberal arts education and the creativity that it has taught you! You may be a music major now, but you may end up a computer programmer later, and both the musical world and the information technology world (and your world) will be the better for it! - Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner
  3. Thank your professors and stay in touch. They’re amazing resources and can be helpful friends to ask for advice. - Cameron Meyer ’09
  4. Your post-collegiate life will invariably be different from what you have imagined...and that’s a good thing! Stay curious and take heart knowing your Trinity education has provided you with the most invaluable things—a well-rounded mind, critical thinking skills, the ability to write your way out of a corner, and a deep curiosity about the world! - Kimberly LeBlanc ’05
  5. Your degree is just the beginning of your journey. Use the critical thinking skills you have learned at Trinity, apply them with a pliable and open mind and attitude, along with a generous heart, and you will undoubtedly make the world a better place. - D’Ann Nichols Drennan ’93
  6. Find a location on campus in which you distinctly remember feeling like a brand new college student just four years ago. Go there, stand in silence and reflect on how far you've come. Capture the full impact of your education in that moment. That is what this journey has been all about. - Ben Newhouse

Know that your first job is just the first step

  1. The hardest job to land is your first one. It's usually not your ideal job, but just get in there, learn, grow and achieve. Don't expect it to come easily, but hard work and perseverance is rewarded. - Scott Francis ’95
  2. When choosing between job offers, evaluate the entire compensation packages, not just the base salaries. Health insurance premiums, matching 401K contributions, and little things like parking subsidies make a difference! -Chelsea Chapman ’01
  3. Say hi to everyone the first two weeks of being somewhere new, take the risk of joining people at their table at lunch and introducing yourself... because after that your group becomes those you met during that period. - Charmie Cuthbert ’03
  4. Your first job may not be ideal, but find enthusiasm to do the best you can at it, because you never know who's watching and noticing your potential that will ultimately move you to where you really belong! - Candace Rauschuber ’97, ’98
  5. If you are startled to find you picked a career path that does not 'feed your soul,’ do something about it sooner than later... life is way too short to be miserable. - Spring Willow Lee ’86 

And finally, you can’t beat some good ol’ life wisdom.

  1. The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time—don’t be in such a gosh darn hurry! - Grant McFarland ’87
  2. Wear clean underwear. Just sayin'. - Tim Read '78
  3. Sounds old fashion[ed], but send a thank you letter to your favorite faculty. You’ll be surprised by who writes you back. I treasure the notes I received in response. - Sujey Doctoroff ‘98 [Editor’s note - many, many people wrote about the wisdom of a handwritten thank-you note.]
  4. Life will humble you. Do yourself a favor and try your best to start out with a humble heart. - Jennifer Pruessner Hong ’03
  5. Back up anything you want to save from your Trinity email before it goes away. - Maria O’Connor ’13, ’15
  6. Print out your pictures! You've taken many, possibly thousands, over the course of your college career. Guess what? Unless they time-hop into your Facebook feed, you will forget them, and Trinity will fade from your mind. Don't let it. Print the photos, and display them proudly. Not all ten thousand, but the best ones with your friends, your strongest memories, and the moments you'll always remember with Tiger pride. - Sara Holton Gard ’03
  7. Commit with your closest friends to meet every year for a reunion and start year-one. It will be the most cherished tradition you have. - Karla Hagen Phillips
  8. Google yourself every few months to see what kind of pictures and information is floating around about you. Future employers most likely will search for you on social media, and partying pictures can make a lasting negative impression.
  9. Make coffee at home. Those Starbucks trips add up quickly. - Lauren Ashley Scott ’05, ’06
  10. Making friends as an adult is really challenging, so you’re going to have to put yourself out there and feel uncomfortable. Try joining a group that does something you love and meeting people that way so you don’t only have work friends (though work friends are great!) It’s going to feel awkward, but that’s okay! - Megan Reynolds
  11. Keep an eye on your credit score and make payments on time to keep it strong so you'll get good interest rates some day when you apply for a mortgage or a car. - Kristan Doerfler Siegel
  12. Enroll in your 401k immediately - Denise Mann Midthassel ’88
  13. Now that you are out of school, start making friends with people who aren’t in your own age group. You’ll get a much broader perspective on the world and some great advice. - Anne L. Trominski ’01
  14. Don’t lose sight of that kid with wonder who got you into Trinity in the first place. - Lauren Harris ’17
  15. Remember, it’s the Trinity phonathon calling! - Craig Ross
Advice has been modified for grammar and length.
students in the contemporary

As a Latinx woman in the field of journalism, my experience at The Contemporary has brought to light the array of stories by collegiate journalists waiting to be heard and the urgency of news platforms to take notice. Hence, we are excited about hosting an event next week discussing how different perspectives shape the newsroom. 

By Zabdi Salazar ’19

Journalism is a vehicle for connecting community voices to the broader public. Looking to the future, as America becomes more diverse, the voices of minority communities will continue to grow. However, will our news and the mainstream media continue to lag behind?

According to The Atlantic, only 13 percent of newspaper reporters are minorities, despite the fact that minorities make up more than 37 percent of the United States population. Although there have been many efforts by news organizations to promote diversity and inclusion, there are still many disparities with the makeup of newsrooms and the angle of stories in the media. The lack of newsrooms covering issues affecting minority communities has dramatic consequences on the public’s trust in the news.

As a Latinx woman myself and a co-founder of a digital startup publication at Trinity, The Contemporary, my experience in the field of journalism has shown how many stories are still waiting to be told, especially by minority journalists. For that reason, our organization seeks to empower collegiate journalists nationwide to report on critical issues in their communities. So far, we have collaborated with more than 25 colleges and universities to present unique, long-form reports on critical issues in a variety of communities.

the contemporary logo

On behalf of the organization, I am excited about moderating our upcoming event that will be addressing the importance of diversity in journalism: News Diversified, How Different Perspectives Shape the Newsroom. Our team is hosting three experienced journalists for the event on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Fiesta Room at Trinity University. You can join us by reserving a free ticket on eventbrite and Facebook. The speakers will share their own experiences working in the industry as minority journalists. Hearing such stories is critical to concretely identify the challenges of minorities in journalism. The panelists will also discuss how the newsroom has changed over time and responded to the country’s rapid demographic changes.

We have selected panel speakers who exemplify the values of diversity. Elaine Ayala, as a minority affairs reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, has delved into the city’s Latino culture. In the field for more than 33 years and part of six metropolitan dailies, Elaine’s impact in newsrooms is extensive. She has also dedicated herself to increasing the representation of minorities and women in the field of journalism.

Francisco Vara-Orta has consistently focused on covering education issues in-depth. He is currently a national correspondent and data specialist for Chalkbeat, a nonprofit national education news network. He has worked for five years with the San Antonio Express-News as an education reporter, addressing topics such as bilingual education, budget cuts, teachers, literacy, and special needs. He has been recognized and granted many awards for such reporting.

Graham Watson-Ringo, the new managing editor for the Rivard Report, a nonprofit urban affairs digital publication, has had extensive experience in digital journalism. As the former executive editor of the, the digital branch of the San Antonio Express-News, she is credited with increasing page views and launching a successful social media strategy. She has also gained a wide range of experience by reporting on college football at, being a sports blog editor at Yahoo!, and curating digital content at Associated Content.

The topic of this event resonates loudly with The Contemporary’s own purpose. In my own experience, our platform has inspired me to have confidence in my own voice. After the 2016 presidential elections, I published my first article. I reflected on my story as part of the Latinx community and how we’re depicted as the “Sleeping Giant” even though we should also strive to ensure that our voices heard. While my story is unique, I feel that our inclusive mission is one that appeals to students from all backgrounds and perspectives.

students in the contemporary working

Our team and platform are diverse, and this has been the cornerstone of our accomplishments. Since the founding of the organization, our team has been composed of a majority of women with different skills sets and expertise. In recruiting correspondents, we have sought out strong writers from many universities with unique experiences that will appeal to different communities. This past summer, we’ve selected a broad range of students to provide us with continuous diverse content for the year. We have recently published long-form pieces ranging from food insecurity of students in Maine to the paradox of sinophobia and economic ties in Vietnam. Our editorial team continuously reevaluates our content through frequent deliberation with our writers via conference calls to ensure the highest quality and thought-provoking stories.

Concerning political diversity, The Contemporary is committed to reaching beyond partisan politics and respecting diverse political views. We are a non-partisan organization that prioritizes creating a space for fact-based public discourse and civic engagement. At every meeting, our goal is to foster an open and inclusive newsroom where all ideas and thoughts can freely be discussed. When free speech is truly embraced, creative and innovative ideas can arise. In the past, we have partnered with political organizations on campus for events and hosted public debates with the Trinity University Forensics Society.

With the same passion put forward in our past events, our team is excited about our upcoming event and looking forward to having an engaging audience that will contribute to the discussion. We are also grateful to the Trinity Diversity Connection for sponsoring our event and Tiger Network for livestream services at

Interested to learn more about us and our future events? Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly content from amazing journalists. Reach us at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Zabdi Salazar is a senior political science and business administration major, as well as the director of business operations of The Contemporary. As part of her role in The Contemporary, Salazar is always looking to build connections with the San Antonio community. She believes in collaboration among news networks as a key way to strengthen the industry of journalism and is interested in similar events and collaborations in the future. For more information, contact Salazar at

Henry Seward '18 stopped digging a deeper hole, and started digging in.

When I was a kid, the emphasis was always when I would attend and graduate from college, not if. Both of my parents had attended universities, and they expected nothing less of their three children. I got through high school with relative ease, and, despite my abhorrent attitude towards any school activity during my senior year, I had a selection of universities to choose from.

I also had the confidence of someone who had never suffered harsh consequences for their actions. Even when I had messed up, my mistakes seemed to not affect me the way people warned they would. The rules of their lives did not seem to apply to me. I had a confidence based not on my personal achievements, but on my perceived lack of failures. It was a confidence based on nothing.

When I actually got to Trinity, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to have fun. It was honestly as simple as that. Before I joined a fraternity during my freshman year, I was already applying my high school mixture of ignoring homework, cramming for tests, and general degeneracy that I thought would provide the optimum amount of enjoyment.

The intellectual curiosities that my classes cultivated were all too often subdued by concerns over how best to delight in my weekend. At the end of my freshman year, I convinced myself that this strategy was working. My grades were not great but, “Everyone has a tough freshman year,” I would remind myself. I just assumed that I could do better without doing things differently.

I was wrong.

Sometime during my sophomore year the enjoyment I reaped from my hedonistic actions began to fade. I declared a major that I thought would make me money instead of a major that I was interested in. My whole life, my parents told me to work for the things that would make me happy. Only now, I did not know what would make me happy. I couldn’t envision working and being happy at the same time. I figured, “If I can’t be happy, I can at least make money.”

Classes that had previously piqued my curiosity turned into hour-long discussions on the contents of a balance sheet. In retaliation (against who, I am still not sure), I began not paying attention in or not attending classes altogether. “Their monotony is crushing my spirit,” I told myself. My grades continued to fall, and the confidence I thought I had was quickly dispelled with thoughts of seemingly inevitable failure.

I did my best to ignore the problems around me. The problems that I was causing. I got really good at it, too. I awoke every morning to don my armor of dishonesty. A thick weave of internal lies that shielded me from the real issues that I was too afraid to face. It allowed me put on a smile when necessary. It helped me sleep through the anxiety that wracked my brain. It was the tool I needed to dig a hole deep enough to throw my body in.

As I dug, I made sure to ignore the people yelling from the top of the hole. Family and friends would reach their hands down, offering a lift out, but their offers were never accepted. “Why are you digging?” they’d ask, “We will help you do anything but dig that hole!”

My eyes unable to meet theirs, I shuddered at the thought of being exposed as a fraud.  “I am not digging, I’m building a staircase up to the top,” I would respond as I tried to hide the shovel down in the dirt. The walls of the pit groaned under the weight of the world, threatening to give away to an avalanche of earth. I put on headphones and kept burrowing.

Whatever ambition that propelled my peers was absent in me. I had no direction.

I was lost.

That summer between my sophomore and junior years, I received a letter from Trinity saying that they would be taking away my scholarship due to an unacceptable GPA. The problems that I had been digging away from were all of a sudden in the hole with me, teeth gnashing, eyes starving. I wrote back, begging for a second chance to show that I was deserving. Trinity responded that I would have a probationary period during which I could restore my scholastic status, and for the first time in years, instead of digging deeper, I began to fill the hole.

I was more than halfway through my junior year before I built up the courage to switch my major to history, a subject that had interested me since middle school. I will never forget emailing my adviser, Amy Holmes, the day after Christmas with my plan to change. Even though it was the middle of winter break, right in between two major holidays, she responded within the next two days with a detailed plan and helped me get in contact with the counseling and advisers that I needed. My interest in class rose exponentially, but my work ethic was still undependable. Despite this, that semester I posted my best grade point average at Trinity to that point. Through my senior year, my grades continued their upward trend. I did things that I had previously thought were out of reach for me. I earned an A on a 25+ page paper, I presented the paper at a humanities symposium, and I was finally excited for my future.

I was developing a real sense of confidence in myself. I decided to re-enter the business world by adding business administration as a second major. My re-introduction into business classes was much better than before. The material hadn’t changed, but I had.

I was found.

This summer I started my first internship. Working in the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity has allowed me to better understand the way an office operates. In addition, they have provided me with many opportunities to develop my writing and organizational skills that will prove invaluable as I move forward. Most importantly, their  supportive environment has helped me develop both personally and professionally.

This is the first time I’ve written about myself for an audience bigger than a university admissions department. My problems always seem either overly dramatic or inconsequential, so writing about them felt trivial. I am writing this now because it’s important to me. Not only because it is an exercise in self-honesty, but also because I know other people have similar experiences. Other people have wandered with no direction or felt obligated to fill an anticipated societal role without passion.
Fortunately for me, I attend Trinity University. They gave me the guidance, the opportunity, and, most importantly, the time I needed to find myself. They provided a wake-up call and made me supply the effort. I am now poised to graduate this fall with a double major in history and business administration and plan on applying to law school this upcoming spring. I have goals and desires that extend far beyond the upcoming weekend. I am still working on being honest with myself and achieving personal growth, but now I am ready and excited to do it. I am finally engaged in becoming someone that I would be proud of.

While too many people to name individually have helped me along my journey, I want to specifically thank my history professors David Lesch, Lauren Turek, and Todd Barnett for helping to reignite my desire for learning and revamp my work ethic. I want to thank my fraternity brothers of Phi Sigma Chi for their friendship that held me together during the toughest moments. Finally, I want to thank my parents for their unshakable love and support. It seems about every week now, I realize I should have been doing something that they had been telling me to do for years.

Henry Seward is a senior at Trinity University from Bellaire, Texas. He is graduating in the fall with a double major in history and business administration and is a member of the Trinity club lacrosse team. Henry can be reached at

By McKenna D. Parr '18 -

It was the end of the Spring 2017 semester, and I was literally losing it. As I struggled to finish four papers and learn exam material which was supposedly “review,” I couldn’t help but think about all the shopping and packing I needed to do. After all, I had exactly three days between when I would be released from Residential Life duties on campus and when I was supposed to be packed for an unfamiliar environment and seated on a flight to Europe. I was well aware that the extra fees from all the bags I planned to check would exceed the cost of my actual plane ticket, but my excitement vastly overpowered the wardrobe and financial crises I was experiencing. Soon, I would be roaming the streets of Madrid, Spain.

I would be participating in the 2017 Madrid Summer Internship Program, a six-week immersion experience in which students participate in classes, excursions, and conduct real business... all in Spanish. The majority of the program’s participants are non-native Spanish-speakers, students of commerce, or both. During the day, students work part-time at internships assigned to them based on previously-indicated interests. In the afternoons and evenings, students are required to attend events such as movies, performances, and classes taught by Trinity faculty. These classes cover modern culture, economy, history, art, current events, politics, business, and more. On the weekends, the group of Trinity students travels to other historically and culturally significant cities in the country. Individuals and pairs of students do homestays, allowing them an opportunity to live in an authentic Spanish household with a host family.

Madrid by morning, up from San Antone
mckenna at winery in spain
I am from Pasadena, Texas, a small town on the southeast side of Houston where the 1980 Western drama Urban Cowboy was filmed… if that tells you anything. Before I had the experience of hosting an exchange student in my residence hall room as a sophomore at Trinity, I never had the slightest interest in going abroad. “Texas Forever,” right? However, after having the pleasure of befriending the German exchange student I hosted, my heart and mind opened up and a strong desire to get outside the States was born. I always excelled in my Spanish classes and had plans to continue my education in the language throughout college. I had recently switched my major from music to marketing, so I knew that if I studied abroad, it would have to be over the summer so I wouldn't fall behind. This was not only a financial issue, but an availability issue as well. When I learned about Trinity's Madrid program, I knew it was the perfect solution to my dilemma... until I was discouraged by the cost. Both my parents had been unemployed for a few years, and eventually I gave up on trying. However, a Trinity professor very dear to my heart, Dr. Bladimir Ruiz, strongly believed I could contribute to the program and insisted that I apply despite the cost. I ended up receiving the Alvarez Grant that allowed me to participate.

After a flight that felts days long, I arrived in Spain on May 15, 2017 (I mean, I think... the time change still gets me). Although I had already begun developing new friendships with some of the other students on the plane, I was still completely overwhelmed. While I felt lucky to be part of a group of students that had bonded prior to our departure from the States, the part that had my stomach in knots was the thought of being separated from my Trinity friends on the trip to stay with my host family. This was probably because my Spanish was very weak at the time, and I feared I might embarrass myself trying to communicate with her. Luckily, I had been assigned a roommate… whom I barely knew and whose Spanish was just as limited as mine. Awesome. Oh and if you’re not aware, all the electrical outlets are different in Europe. Of course, I didn’t have an adapter.

mckenna with host mother
La Casa de Amelia
My host mother, Amelia, picked us up from the hotel and greeted us warmly. The first thing I noticed was how perfectly coiffed she was, as was almost every other Spaniard. In other words, locals seemed to look at us like we were literal trash in our Nike sweats, Birkenstocks, and baggy college t-shirts. When my roommate Jess and I arrived at “La Casa de Amelia,” we agreed that it reminded us of Mamma Mia!, specifically the scene where the girls are all poking their heads out the windows singing and there are clothes lines everywhere with sheets and underwear drying. Yeah, it was like that. I wish I had overcome my fear of talking to Amelia earlier, because I would soon realize that she was the wackiest, most impatient, kindest, most invasive, loveliest woman in all of Spain. It just took some time for me to warm up to her waltzing into the bathroom during my afternoon soak in the tub to ask about my day.

Save a Horse, Ride the Metro 
Simply walking through the streets of the city was nothing short of magical. Although I struggled to fully adjust to “city life” in general (I’m what some would call “country”, for lack of a better term), there were definitely tradeoffs. For instance, I adored the street musicians that could be found entertaining at almost every corner and even at the metro stations. As I’m sure many of you know, the majority of people in that region use public transportation as opposed to personal vehicles. There were pros and cons to this… While there were definitely many occasions where it was awesome to have an Uber substitute available, I couldn’t “gun it” if I was running late (which I usually was). On the other hand, there were several frustrations that came along with the public transportation. There were many different “huelgas” or strikes, where the metro drivers would just decide to run slowly on any given day. The taxi drivers also participated in these strikes. Another thing that was notably different was that being up close and personal with strangers is a big part of Spanish culture. During rush hour, everyone on the metro is completely sardined in there, laughing loudly with their friends, and striking up friendly conversation with complete strangers. In the U.S., we tend to be more territorial, respecting personal space and boundaries (I won’t even go into how bad the unapologetic and brazen display of the PDA was), but as someone on the huggier and bubblier side, I kept thinking, “This is great! I have totally been living in the wrong country!” That being said, every city has its imperfections. I witnessed my first pickpocket crime on the metro one afternoon, and my host-mother later explained that it’s not uncommon. Strangely, I found comfort in having to hold on a little tighter to my bag from time to time than to fear for my physical safety, as we sometimes do in the states. While it wasn't exactly picture-perfect, I always felt so safe walking alone or in small numbers, since Madrid tends to feel like one big family.

What is this, the Lord’s Supper?
Bread and wine with literally everything. I honestly grew sick of it. I think I genuinely thought that, because they speak Spanish, I would be having tamales and quesadillas… boy was I wrong. It’s surprising though, because I could probably count on one hand the amount of overweight people I saw in two months. The dining culture is certainly different as well. I’ll never forget when I got in trouble for pulling out my laptop at the bar. Apparently the Spanish differentiate between food time and work time, and I didn’t get the memo. When I set my laptop up on the table, the manager at a tapas bar asked me to stop working. Naturally, I asked him why, and explained that I had a presentation due that afternoon. He ever so sternly informed me that people were trying to unwind and I was being rude by working. Good to know. Additionally, the Spanish operate on much later hours. The Starbucks by my home growing up opened at 4:30am, while the one by my host mother’s house opened around 7:30 am. If you know me at all, you know exactly why this was a problem. If you don’t, let’s just say pre-coffee McKenna has been compared, on several occasions, to both Godzilla and Regina George.

mckenna with friend in spain
Debate Builds Bridges 
My internship was the part of the program where I experienced the most cultural differences in one place. I worked as a market research assistant, which involved working to bridge the gap between Spain and the States in America, where the company planned to begin operating. I was most surprised at how laid back the work environment was. It followed that they seemed intrigued by my “intense” work ethic as well (if only they had witnessed me studying for my finals… ha). My office almost felt like a big family. We often left as a group for coffee breaks, messaged smiley faces back and forth, and shared personal stories about each others' families and upbringings. They have no problem talking about religion and politics in the workplace. They would get into these loud debates of which I could only comprehend a little. Often, I found that the winner of any given debate was the most respected that day. In the U.S., it is typically considered unprofessional to partake in such debates, so needless to say I experienced extreme anxiety when asked by my coworkers to answer questions about President Trump on behalf of all America.

As part of our class grade, we were required to attend excursions to various Spanish cities. We often had a bilingual tour guide that helped us to fully understand a given city’s historical and cultural significance. There is just something about standing in a building older than your own country that is purely mesmerizing, and I would venture to say that these excursions had the greatest impact on me. We were also required to give weekly, memorized presentations over Spanish geography, current and historical events, economy, art, culture, and business. It was through these presentations that my Spanish speaking took off. At the end of the program, my peers made so many comments to me, saying that if they didn't hear me with their own ears, they wouldn't have believed it was the same person speaking. I now feel confident enough to engage with Spanish speakers here in San Antonio, and I certainly couldn't have said that before.

historical site in spain

The Road Ahead
Overall, the program enhanced my life in unimaginable ways. I still hear from Amelia regularly, and she was extremely proud to see me complete my education last May, especially after hearing of certain hardships in my personal life which might have otherwise affected my graduation. Additionally, having to be so cautious in an unfamiliar environment for so many weeks actually had a lasting impact on my independence. I am significantly more prompt and resourceful after not being able to use my GPS in a city on the other side of the world and using modes of transportation which often impose unexpected delays. It is also so rewarding to engage with an entirely different demographic, thanks to the improvement in my language skills. I love that many of the 2017 participants still post in the group messages to stay connected, too. Most importantly, I now possess a higher level of cultural and social awareness. There were so many times I clearly frustrated the locals by not being perfectly fluent in Spanish. I couldn’t help but recall hundreds of times growing up where people around me would become angry with customers or service providers that were trying to accomplish something, but didn’t speak perfect English. I developed the sincerest empathy for these individuals while I was abroad, as the tables had turned and I was suddenly the one who didn’t understand. I realized that no one ENJOYS not understanding. I also learned that there is not just one "right" way to do things, just because it is the American way.

McKenna D. Parr graduated from Trinity in May 2018 with a degree in business administration concentrating in marketing. She is an intern in Trinity’s Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing. She can be reached at

By Chiara Pride '20 -

Tigers holding up their parade banner at the San Antonio PRIDE Parade

The Stonewall Inn was owned and converted into a bar by the Genovese crime family, widely known as the most prominent mafia syndicate among the “Five Families” of New York City and New Jersey. To ensure Stonewall’s continued operation without a liquor license, the police collected weekly payoffs. In 1966 the family designated Stonewall a gay bar, solidifying its position at the intersection of extortion, force, and marginalization. During its tenure as a gay bar, the Inn was regularly raided by police. It is speculated that the raid on June 28, 1969, occurred because the police were receiving fewer kickbacks—meaning mafia owners had begun making most of their profit by blackmailing Stonewall’s wealthier patrons.

In a standard police raid, female police officers took individuals whom they identified as women into the bathroom to verify their sex as female. Persons whose genitalia did not align with their assumed gender presentation would be arrested. On the night of June 28, some of Stonewall’s customers refused to go into the bathroom or give their identification to police. As arrests were made and police waited on patrol wagons to carry away seized alcohol, a crowd of released patrons gathered outside of the bar. An instance of police brutality sparked what we know today to be the Stonewall Riots, as a woman was beaten over the head with a baton for complaining that her handcuffs were too tight. The riots that ensued that night and into the next were a response to continued oppression and an expression of community frustration.

Seizing the spirit of activism that had awoken the gay community of New York City, activists from the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists Alliance, and others organized the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. The march was the first of what we now refer to as “pride” marches and parades. It took place on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Thirteen years later, in 1982, the San Antonio Gay Alliance organized the city’s first large-scale pride parade. San Antonio’s pride parades have always been a bit of a hot mess (in 1997 there were actually two competing pride picnics) but as with a lot of things in San Antonio, the imperfections add to the charm.

I was not thinking of this national and local history while covering my classmates in glitter and frantically trying to take Snapchats of the crowd for our Trinity University account before my phone died. In fact, I was not thinking about much at all. My friends and I stood around chatting about everything and nothing in the heat for two hours before we finally stormed into the street and began our halting march down the strip. We had the freedom and privilege to march without concern, to shout #TigerPride at adoring crowds of people, and to look into the eyes of our loved ones knowing that we were safe and happy.

Chiara Pride with friends at the San Antonio PRIDE Parade

I will be the president of PRIDE for the next year at Trinity. Those of you reading this who know me know that I have taken on a lot of leadership roles during my short time at the University. Frankly, too many. I have struggled, as many Trinity students do, to find a balance between school, extracurriculars, and my personal life. I have never been able to pin down why this problem is so acute for me, why I tend to throw myself into everything I do. Writing this piece has helped me realize one source of my passion.

My existence is political. I owe my present condition of freedom to organizers like Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, the black gender-nonconforming drag queen and sex worker who famously shouted, “I got my civil rights,” igniting the Stonewall Riots. Johnson, along with Sylvia Rae Rivera (a Latina gender-nonconforming drag queen and activist), helped found the Gay Liberation Front and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries activist groups. In documentaries like “Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson,” Johnson is depicted as a saint, as someone who would gladly give her last dollar to a kid on the streets. This is the legacy of the gay community in the United States—the radical kindness and activism of people of color, homeless drag queens and sex workers, who attended a gay bar owned by the mafia. These women, from marginalized communities, demanded to be free from harassment and in doing so opened the door for us all to march proudly.

A rainbow flag flying at the San Antonio PRIDE Parade

My identity as a cisgender, pansexual, white young woman at a private four-year institution cannot embody the legacy of activists like Marsha P. Johnson. I can, however, work to honor the legacies of those who fought for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. I want queer students at Trinity, whether they be part of PRIDE or not, to be aware of the history they are carrying on with each step of their bold and happy existence. I hope queer students take comfort knowing that they are in the company of saints and freedom fighters.

View more photos from the San Antonio Pride Parade.

Headshot of author Chiara Pride

About Chiara

Chiara Pride is a rising junior and a double major in anthropology and political science. She is a McNair Scholar and the new president of PRIDE at Trinity University. In her free time, Chiara enjoys telling everyone she knows how amazing Janelle Monae is as an artist, activist, and queer icon.