For the first time in its 53-year history, UT Health San Antonio celebrated a combined, all-school commencement May 22 at the Alamodome.
More than 1,000 students — 827 in May and 211 this summer — applied to graduate from the university. The graduates come from the university’s five schools – the School of Nursing, School of Dentistry, School of Health Professions, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.
“These students have been challenged by interruptions, by inconveniences, by new methodologies in teaching and they have been limited in their social interactions,” said William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio. “They have had a ringside seat in observing the devastation the pandemic has caused to patients struggling to live and families fighting to survive. And, despite the disruptive consequences of the pandemic, these students, led by their talented and creative faculties, have set new standards of excellence and service at UT Health.”
He added that “these graduates bring and have brought great credit and honor to their professions, and they are just getting started. They will continue their life-affirming vocations in many new settings around the world. It is a point of lasting pride that they first learned their life-saving skills here at UT Health, and those of us on the faculty and staff of UT Health San Antonio count ourselves lucky we have had the opportunity to be a part of their lives.”
The president recounted with pride many of the accomplishments of each school during the COVID-19 pandemic, from administering vaccines to volunteer work to pivoting to COVID-19 research in many labs.
Dr. Henrich welcomed longtime ABC News journalist John Quinones, a San Antonio native, as the keynote speaker for the in-person commencement. A graduate of San Antonio’s Brackenridge High School and St. Mary’s University, Quinones rose from a disadvantaged upbringing to log more than 30 years with ABC so far, including anchoring 20/20 and Primetime. Watch his speech here.
The vice chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, Rad Weaver of San Antonio, and the student regent of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, Dr. Patrick Ojeaga, joined Dr. Henrich in conferring the degrees.
Dr. Henrich closed the ceremony by encouraging everyone in attendance to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The City of San Antonio, through Metro Health, has a vaccine hub right outside the doors, on the parking lot of the Alamodome,” Dr. Henrich said. “And there is no appointment needed. So, please help us reach herd immunity and get your vaccination today.”
Holly Parenica, PhD, Radiological Science
Holly Parenica, PhD, reflects on her university experience as a 2021 graduate in the PhD Radiological Science Program at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio.
Jared Stowers, Doctor of Medicine
Jared Stowers reflects on his university experience as a 2021 graduate in the Doctor of Medicine Program at the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
Lauren Capicio, Speech Language Pathology
Lauren Capicio reflects on her university experience as a 2021 graduate in the Speech-Language Pathology Program at the School of Health Professions at UT Health San Antonio.
Katharina Tosti, Doctor of Dental Surgery
Katharina Tosti reflects on her university experience as a 2021 graduate in the Doctor of Dental Surgery Program at the School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio.
Joanna Skidmore, BS in Nursing
Joanna Skidmore reflects on her university experience as a 2021 graduate in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio.