The Word: UIW Community Newsletter - June 25, 2021


UIW AVS Lab Partners with CPS Energy

The UIW Flight Team stands in a field ready to fly a drone

This month, UIW's Autonomous Vehicle Systems (AVS) Lab reinitiated collaborative efforts with CPS Energy to collect invaluable data about the infrastructure needs of the San Antonio community. In the past, synergistic efforts with CPS Energy yielded striking advances in geographic information system mapping, guidance navigation and controls, machine learning, artificial-intelligence-guided computer vision and the workflow to combine these capabilities in an effective, original approach. Part of the renewed comprehensive partnership will be training in close cooperation with utility repair crews to identify and inspect suspected damage to powerlines and the related equipment. This training will be tightly coupled with the AVS Lab's drone proficiency to reduce inspection times and to mitigate risks associated with performing these inspections by hand.

The UIW flight team recently inspected live power lines at Olmos Park to investigate problematic vegetation encroachment. A representative from CPS Energy was present to oversee operations and to ensure all safety procedures were followed. Additionally, CPS representatives identified hazards unique to the Olmos Park area. This is an important first step in pinpointing definitive demands for CPS Energy utility crews. The next flight for CPS Energy will be a more hands-on inspection of the power lines in a fully integrated manner with the CPS Energy crew.


Physical Therapy Faculty Earn Parkinson's Foundation Grant

Headshots of Dr. Jennifer Penn and Dr. Alex OrtizDr. Jennifer Penn, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Alex Ortiz, professor of Physical Therapy, were recently awarded a Parkinson’s Foundation grant for their project titled, "Movement for the Underserved People with Parkinson's Disease of San Antonio Through Exercises Classes Vital for Equality (MUEVE)." The project looks at the feasibility and efficacy of using Telehealth for group exercises specific to Parkinson’s Disease. It compares a primarily Spanish-speaking group in underserved regions of San Antonio to an English-speaking group, a novel approach to study those in need.   

An exciting part of this project will be the inclusion of UIW Physical Therapy graduates Rebecca Cantu (2017) and Lillian Cerrito (2019) as intervention therapist and blind assessor.

Business Faculty Lend Expertise to Media

Headshots of Dr. Griesdorn and Dr. HarrisonTwo faculty from the H-E-B School of Business and Administration provided expert commentary for two separate publications—the San Antonio Express-News and WalletHub, an online resource to provide credit scores, credit-improvement advice, and reviews of financial products and professionals. 

Dr. Tim Griesdorn, associate professor of Finance, provided commentary about the results of a survey conducted by  WalletHub about considerations made related to gas and travel credit cards. The survey sought consumers’ input on considerations made when traveling during the summer, whether credit cards with rewards were important when making financial decisions, and the value of getting a gas station credit card.

Read results from the survey and Griesdorn’s remarks  

Dr. Teresa Harrison, associate professor and discipline coordinator of Management, was recently quoted by the San Antonio Express-News in the article, “Toxic Situation,” about the high teacher turnover rate at Marion ISD, published on June 23, 2021. Harrison discussed the legality of Marion ISD’s leadership structure and the impact of that structure on teacher morale.

The article is available here

GEMS Soar to New Heights with Apprenticeship Program

Students and instructors look at computer screens

In close cooperation with the Girls in Engineering Math & Science (GEMS), AVS Labs has been an integral part of the new Army Educational Outreach Program initiative that started on June 7. This Department of Defense-backed program seeks to enable young women who are interested in STEM to continue fostering these interests throughout their educational careers. Over the last few weeks, AVS Labs has mentored the eight young women from GEMS in a variety of projects and skillsets which include programming, meteorology, engineering, and integrating these systems into mechanical components. Over this short time, they have shown phenomenal effort and accomplishments and have already produced and contributed to the AVS Lab's research. So far, the GEMS' accomplishments include:

  • Amaris Morin, a junior at Incarnate Word High School, and Anneliese Coleman, a junior at Keystone AVS High School, participated and assisted in the setup of three flight operations under the mentorship of the Labs’ senior drone pilots. Morin and Coleman are primed to be licensed drone pilots before the end of the month, when they will begin to lead flight operations on their own. 
  • Irina Hernandez, a junior at Communication Arts High School, and Camille Bell, a junior at Great Hearts Northern Oaks High School, have demonstrated a considerable command of mechanical engineering fundamentals by assembling a sophisticated mechanical hand, which requires an innate understanding of troubleshooting techniques. They are working to incorporate a Brain Computer Interface with this hand to enable thought-controlled artificial limb movement.  
  • Rachel Rosser, a senior at John Marshall Harlan High School, has started developing a fully functional chatbot. Chatbots are automated interfaces designed to mimic human speech in the form of text when a human interacts with it and have become ubiquitous throughout online customer support industries. Rosser has made exceptional progress in this area, with little oversight, and has crafted a completely operational user interface while perfecting the AI-driven chatting function to better replicate human responses.  
  • Tanya Lertpradist, a junior at BASIS Shavano San Antonio, is perfecting the use of the Brain Computer Interface and has transferred the brain wave data received from its raw form into Python code, completing this task in a matter of hours, far ahead of schedule.  
  • Zya Garcia, a junior at Wagner High School, flew the DJI Tello drone and was the first in the program to perform a flip with this new device. 
  • On her fourth day of the program, Monali Baker, a senior at Smithson Valley High School, flew a DJI Tello indoors at a meeting of the UIW Board of Trustees, executing several delicate maneuvers while maintaining a strikingly professional demeanor. She has continued to hone her indoor flight expertise by implementing the first stages of code that will culminate in a fleet of cooperative drones working in tandem to autonomously search and inspect areas deemed too inaccessible for ground personnel to explore safely.  

A student and instructor look at a computer togetherAVS Labs members have been delighted to facilitate the development of these young ladies' projects and have repeatedly expressed their amazement at these students’ abilities. Consequently, AVS decided to allow these GEMS student to showcase their own research during a staff meeting with CPS Energy, a meeting which is usually reserved for only senior lab staff.

In addition, the GEMS apprentices were recently invited to attend an Autonomous Vehicle System (AVS) Research Laboratories Coding Academy hosted by Mr. Srikanth Vemula and Mr. Steven Marquez. This seven-week course will teach the apprentices the fundamentals of Python along with the necessary skills for writing programs such as C++, Java, and many others. Python is an interpreted high-level general purpose programming language, and its design philosophy emphasizes code readability with its notable use of significant indentation. Coding is an integral part of the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) as implicated through the research topics including autonomous vehicle programming, Brain Computer Interference, IR and LiDAR drone data collection, and path planning algorithm writing.

Mission and Ministry

Mass Schedule

The interior of a chapel

UIW Mission and Ministry is now live-streaming Sunday Mass from Our Lady’s Chapel. We invite your participation in one of the following formats:

  • In-Person Attendance:  UIW Community members wishing to attend Mass in-person are asked to register for a seat using our new Flocknote app, as well as abide by all safety guidelines put in place for the pandemic. Seating is extremely limited due to protocols put in place due to the pandemic. Students receive priority in-person registration at the following links:
  • Virtual Attendance: Those wishing to attend Mass virtually should continue registering through Zoom. The links to RSVP for the livestream Mass are:

Our livestream Mass is a hybrid broadcast, bringing both our in-person assembly in Our Lady’s Chapel and online assembly together. Both groups are able to see and hear one another.

Callings by Melinda LeBlanc

A person holds a BibleI recently began watching a TV show about passengers on an airplane who, unknowingly, disappear for five years while in flight. While they believe only minutes have passed, their friends and families have been without them for five years. (It’s a bizarre series, but I suppose it’s my escape from the heaviness of local and national events.) The show is about how life unfolds when the plane lands and how the passengers and their families deal with the very different realities they have experienced over the past five years. The interesting thing is that the passengers experience callings, messages from God, which when answered, bring about a beneficial outcome to those around them. This got me thinking more deeply about callings from God.

It seems that God sends us “Big C” Callings and “little c” callings. At times, God calls us to something big, something that seems hard to accomplish. At other times, God calls us to things that are not quite so challenging. Each invitation is just as important as the other. One of my “Big C” Callings occurred almost 40 years ago, when God challenged me to a deeper trust. It came at a time when I was hurt and didn’t trust people in general and projected that mistrust onto God. It was a low time, but I heard God ask me to take a leap of faith that would change my life. Now that’s what I would call a major challenge, one that I accepted after lots of God’s graces were sent my way.

“Big C” Callings can often lead to “little c” callings. A colleague recently did something that hurt my feelings. My gut reaction was to storm away angry after lashing out. But I paused, took a deep breath, and prayed for understanding. I was able to walk away from a potentially bitter scene and eventually reconcile with that person. That moment of pausing to calm down was what I considered a “little c” invitation to live my bigger invitation to see God in all others. Some callings take a lifetime to answer and challenge us, such as the call to forgive or the call to love as God loves. These invitations are more a way of life than a one-time invitation. The real test is in staying with the invitation and letting it take root over a lifetime. It can take years of prayer and perseverance to make progress in the right direction, but again, God’s abundant grace is always offered to help us. Sometimes callings come in bunches, with a domino effect. Answering one call can open the door to hearing many others. For example, my response to God’s invitation to retire cleared the way to discerning new options about how I could serve God in my retirement.

When God invites us to something, we can accept, refuse, or procrastinate. It’s up to us. If we ask for the heart to know and follow God’s will in our lives, we can truly live a life of discernment, that is, a life in sync with God’s heart. On the other hand, we can miss God’s call completely. Even then, God is patient with us and will lovingly keep inviting us closer.

The fact is, we don’t need to return from a mysterious five-year-long plane trip to have a calling. God is always inviting us, recreating us, teaching us. It’s a lifelong journey of holy listening and discerning what we hear and feel. Following our callings takes faithfulness in prayer, letting go of our own agenda, and trusting that we never journey alone. God is always with us, no matter what the calling.

Community News

UIW Celebrates Juneteenth

A group of people gather for a photo at the Juneteenth event

On Friday, June 18, the University hosted its inaugural Juneteenth celebration. The event was spearheaded by UIW Mission and Ministry, Athletics, the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability, the new student social justice organization founded by UIW football players T.J. Wright and Gerald Bowie III, "As One We Will," and more. The celebration included a dynamic presentation on the historical significance of Juneteenth, featured guest speakers, music, dance performances by the Diverse Dance Academy, food and more. 

A group of girls perform a dance routineUIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans and Provost Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo were both present at the celebration, held at the Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center, and welcomed the crowd of about 200 guests. Though the event had been in the works for weeks, President Joe Biden signed legislation the day before that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday, making UIW's first Juneteenth celebration even more significant, a sentiment shared by Dr. Evans during his remarks. 

Dr. Laura Cannon, professor of History, shared research on Juneteenth with attendees and discussed UIW's commitment to the Mission by contributing to a more just society through efforts such as the University's new Social Jusice and Peace concentration. "Black history is our history," she stressed during her remarks. 

UIW student news organizations, The Logos and UIWtv provided coverage for the event, which was livestreamed by UIW Athletics. 

UIW looks forward to continuing this new tradition of celebrating Juneteenth on campus for years to come.

¡Viva Fiesta! ¡Viva UIW!

UIW is continuing Fiesta 2021 celebrations! On Monday, June 21, the University participated in the 2021 Texas Cavaliers River Parade and shared the UIW spirit with thousands of spectators along the Riverwalk. Watch the river parade below (catch UIW at the 1:37:00 mark). 

In addition to participating in the parade, the University is celebrating that this year's Miss Fiesta is UIW student, Calista Burns! Miss Fiesta Calista Burns is a UIW Education student double minoring in Mathematics and Reading. Calista is being featured on billboards across San Antonio!

A screengrab of a billboard featuring Miss Fiesta, Calista Burns

Learn more about Miss Fiesta Calista Burns

Renderings of Fiesta medalsLast but certainly not least, a limited amount of 2020 and 2021 UIW Fiesta medals remain available! Purchase one for $10 or two for $15. Medals can be picked up on the UIW Broadway campus or mailed directly to you. All proceeds will benefit the UIW Cardinals' Cupboard, helping fight food insecurity within our community. 

Purchase your UIW Fiesta medals here

In the News

LMT: LMC welcomes residents for Family Medicine and Internal Medicine programs

The exterior of the UIWSOM campus 

"Laredo Medical Center and its academic partner, the University of the Incarnate Word, introduced the fourth cohort of the LMC Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency Programs on Wednesday, June 23.

A standing-room-only audience was on hand to witness the ceremony, which included hospital board of trustees, administration and staff. Also present were officials from outpatient training partner Gateway Community Health Center, members of the medical community and stakeholders."

Read the full story


Physical Therapy Students Give Back

Students build a home

Even through the summer months, our Cardinals live the Mission! Students from the School of Physical Therapy volunteered to build homes for families in need with the Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio.

Students participating in the event were Chan Yu, Ashley Stevens, Ambi Alam, Michael Ramos, Katelyn Vincent, Jessica Eastham, Jacob McClue, Nia Roberts, Alex Nieto, Aliza Castro, Julian Montfort, Stephanie Deocampo, Allie Berhost, and Gabriel Levy.

Thank you for making a difference, Cardinals!

Optometry Students Walk to Fight Blindness

A group of people pose for a photo outside

The UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) Low Vision and Rehabilitation Club participated in the 13th Annual Virtual Vision Walk last weekend in support of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The foundation's mission is to find treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases. Although the event was held virtually, UIWRSO students and faculty met at the Phil Hardberger Park and walked the 5K together to raise awareness!

Cardinal Corner

UIW Business Student Presents at International Conference

A headshot of Elizabeth PooleElizabeth Poole, a recent graduate of the H-E-B School of Business and Administration collaborated with Dr. Halimin Herjanto, professor of Marketing, during her senior year on a qualitative paper about customer dissatisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic for the June 2021 Phuket International Tourism Conference. The goal of the case study was to provide a better understanding of the reasons for cruise passenger dissatisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic and report findings so the cruise line industry may use the information to increase its chances of survival.

"Extracting data to be used in our case study was a new experience for me that made me realize how particular and thorough an individual must be during this process," explained Poole.

After all relevant data and references were organized, the pair then constructed their case study, titled "Customer Dissatisfaction During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Cruise Passenger Perspective." As the conference was held virtually in Thailand, Poole was allowed to submit a prerecorded presentation.

"[Throughout this process] I developed a new appreciation for marketing researchers, data collectors, and scientific writers," said Poole. "If I could give advice to any students, I would recommend never passing up an opportunity where a professor, or academic superior, extends the invitation to collaborate. They are valuable, rare, and may open doors you otherwise thought were not even an option to be knocked upon."

Cardinals Enjoy Summer Luau

A student smiles in a water slide pool

On Thursday, June 17, UIW Campus Engagement hosted a Summer Luau as part of its summer programming for UIW students. Cardinals enjoyed a special summer kickoff complete with a giant water slide, shaved ice, water activities, hula lessons, prizes and giveaways, and more. Thank you, Campus Engagement for continuing to provide fun-filled activities for our Cardinals to help them beat the heat this summer!

Alumni and Parent Relations

Alumni Spotlight: Jacob Collazo

A headshot of Jacob CollazoJacob Collazo ’08 BA, was recently named the new principal of Royal Ridge Elementary School in North East Independent School District.

Collazo received a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2008 from the University of the Incarnate Word and earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership in 2012 from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Collazo believes in building high-quality professional relationships with staff and students, and his goal is to use these relationships to hold each other to a standard of excellence so that all students learn at their highest potential.

Congratulations, Jacob!

UIW Alumni Board Association

A banner that reads "UIW Alumni Association"

Last Friday, the UIW Alumni Association Board of Directors met for their annual Alumni Association Retreat. During this session, alumni leaders came together to learn about University partnerships and to plan association initiatives for the fiscal year.  

Please join us in welcoming our newest Board of Directors: 

Kevin L. Copes '18; Mercedes Moreno '13, '16; Jeffrey Scott O’Neill '18; Matthew Occhipinti '15; Annie Sustaita '19; Michael Wagner '20; Dr. David Clay, IV '21; Atzel Jonatan Pena '08, '20; Evalinda Davila, SGA president.  

June Alumni Birthday Raffle

An image of a mascot that reads "Alumni Birthday Raffle"

We are celebrating our Cardinal birthdays in a very special way! Your Alumni Association will hold a birthday raffle each month where you will have a chance to win a gift from us. If you have a birthday in June, you can enter the raffle here.

Happy Birthday to all of our June Cardinals!


Rogers repeats, Thomas adds All-Academic honors

A collage of two baseball players

The senior duo of Ridge Rogers and Lee Thomas of the University of the Incarnate Word baseball team was selected to the 2021 Southland Conference All-Academic teams, the league announced on Tuesday, June 15.  

Rodgers picked up his second All-Academic award as he was named to the 2021 second team with a perfect 4.0 GPA as a rehabilitative science major. The Cardinals' centerfielder hit .236 on the year with 37 hits, six doubles, three triples and two home runs, accounting for 27 runs scored and knocking in 19 RBIs in 45 starts this season. The Flower Mound, Texas native was one of four student-athletes from the Southland Conference to have a 4.0 GPA. 

Thomas caps off his five-year career at UIW with an automatic selection to the All-Academic first-team after getting an All-Conference first-team nod. The lefty DH turned in a 3.71 GPA as a Management Information Systems major and led the Cardinals with a .306 batting average, .686 slugging percentage and .420 on-base percentage. Thomas also led UIW with 12 doubles and five triples. The Katy, Texas native had 52 hits this season driving in 35 RBIs and accounting for 32 runs scored. 

All-Academic teams are voted on by the head coach, sports information director and an academic staff member from each member school. Student-athletes must possess a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and have completed one full academic year at the nominating institution to qualify. Nominees who were on the all-conference first team are automatically named Southland All-Academic. 

The Southland Conference awards committee, which consists of one administrator from each of the 13 member schools, votes for the Student-Athlete of the Year. Student-Athlete of the Year candidates must have earned at least a 3.20 GPA and demonstrated athletics achievement for at least two years at the nominating institution.

Swimming and diving teams named CSCAA Spring Scholar All-America

A swimmer in a pool

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) announced that the University of Incarnate Word men's and women's swimming and diving teams earned Scholar All-America honors for their efforts in the classroom. The teams earned the honor after posting GPAs of 3.40 and 3.59 respectively. 

"Coach [Phillip] Davis, despite an especially challenging season, continued to produce champions in the pool and the classroom," noted CSCAA Executive Director Greg Earhart. 

In total, 721 programs from 426 institutions earned the honor. CSCAA will name its individual Scholar All-America team next week. 

Founded in 1922, the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), is the nation's first organization of college coaches. The mission of the CSCAA is to advance the sport of swimming and diving with coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development.

UIW places 246 on 2020-21 SLC Commissioner's Honor Roll

An aerial view of the UIW athletics complex

The University of the Incarnate Word Athletic Department placed 246 student-athletes on the 2020-21 Southland Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll, announced the league office on Thursday. 

"I am extremely proud of our student-athletes' hard work and commitment to excellence in the classroom, while managing a virtual learning environment and facing so much adversity over the course of this academic year," said Athletic Director Richard Duran. "Continuing to grow in competition and uphold UIW academic success deserves recognition."  

Out of the 246 honorees, 14 Cardinals achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA for the spring semester. 

The football team, with 47 recipients, led the Cardinals, followed by the the baseball and women's track and field teams with 31 recipients each. 

The 2020-21 Spring SLC Commissioner's Honor Roll named 2,502 student-athletes from across the league's 16 sports. The honor roll recognizes student-athletes that obtained at least a 3.0 GPA and were eligible to compete during their season. 

View the full 2020-21 Spring Southland Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll here (pdf)


COVID-19 Resources

A student in a UIW mask looks at a computer

The University of the Incarnate Word continues to monitor the local, regional and state-wide progression of COVID-19 to inform decisions about safe campus operations. Below you will find links to helpful information regarding UIW's COVID-19 warning indicators, case tracking, safety guidelines and resources for the UIW community. These sites will be updated to reflect changes or new information.

COVID-19 Information Site

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Case Updates

Cardinal Flight Plan

Schedule a COVID-19 test on the Broadway campus (students and employees ONLY)

Schedule a COVID-19 test at the UIWSOM campus (open to general public)