The Word: UIW Community Newsletter - August 27, 2021


Welcome Home, Cardinals! A Message from UIW President Thomas Evans, PhD

Welcome to the Nest, Cardinals! Fall 2021 has begun and the energy and enthusiasm it brings is palpable. To mark the start of a brand-new semester, UIW President Dr. Thomas M. Evans shared a special video message with our community.


Business Faculty Publishes Medical Tourism Research

A headshot of Dr. David VequistDr. David Vequist, UIW professor of Management, has published new research from the University's Center for Medical Tourism Research in the article, "The Continuum of Care in Cross-Border Health Travel: Implications for Medical Tourism Standards." The piece was published in the Journal of Healthcare Management Standards (JHMS), the official publication of the Healthcare Standards Institute (HSI), founded by Dr. Vequist and Dr. Sharon Kleefield, Harvard Medical School retired faculty.

"This is a significant accomplishment, first in that [the journal] was founded by a UIW professor and has a chief editor from Harvard," said Dr. Vequist. "It is also associated with both the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) through the very first American Standards Developer (ASD) in the U.S. focused on Health Administration standards – the Healthcare Standards Institute – which was also founded by myself and UIW alumna, Dr. Veronica Edwards."

The article itself focuses on Mexican immigration and healthcare policy, particularly the continuum of care across borders, using a sample of tens of thousands to analyze the healthcare received by immigrants to the U.S. Per the article's abstract, "This study attempted to measure the impact of a lack of standard continuity on the healthcare outcomes by comparing self-reported perceptions of health among a large population of people that traveled across borders. These travelers, without a discernible continuum of care, were surveyed before and after travel. A statistical analysis of self-reported perception data about general health before and after cross-border travel shows a significant decrease in overall health after cross-border travel. Despite some limitations, a moderate amount of the decline can be attributed to the breakdown of the continuum of care between providers on both sides of the border. The development of standards for cross-border healthcare could potentially improve the healthcare received by migrants and medical travelers."

"The article speaks to some of the biggest topics of the day in international immigration and cross-border healthcare," explained Vequist. "It shows evidence, using a large data set, that the long-term health of immigrants and medical tourists who come into the U.S. may be inhibited without evidence-based standards."

Read the Article Here

Interior Design Faculty Earns EDAC

A headshot of Adam NashAdam Nash, assistant professor of Interior Design, recently received his Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC) from the Center for Health Design, an organization that awards credentials to individuals who demonstrate an understanding of how to apply an evidence-based process to the design and construction of all settings that contribute to health, safety and well-being, including measuring and reporting results. Maintenance of the certification involves ongoing education to ensure that professionals in the field remain abreast with the latest findings and best practices. Individuals in academia are encouraged to receive certification to stay on top of the most significant, emerging discipline within the healthcare design profession and help carry the teachings forward.

Interior Design Students and Alumni Find Success

Interior design posters on display

As the 2021-22 academic year kicks off, Interior Design students and alumni have much to celebrate, with several earning awards and one being interviewed for a professional publication.

Ariana Gomez and Amie Miller, students in UIW's Interior Design program, received their LEED Green Associate certification as well as their WELL certification. The LEED Green Association certificate is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and documents the student’s knowledge of green building practices. The WELL certification is awarded by the International WELL Building Institute and documents the student’s ability to incorporate human health and well-being into interior design standards and operational protocols.

Several Interior Design students and alumni recently received recognition and awards in the “2021 Celebrating Design Texas” show, presented by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

  • Current student Jennifer Salyer won second place in the “Residential” student category.
  • Current student Ahnika McPherson participated in the competition with Y Interiors, who won in multiple categories – first place, Residential: Traditional/Transitional Dining Room; second place, Residential: Entire Residence <5000 sq. ft.; and second place Residential: Individual/Unique Space.
  • Alum Kory (Lipscomb) Jonsson, along with Gina Roth of Abode Interiors, won first place in the Residential: Individual/Unique Space category.
  • Alum Cyndi Rodriguez, with Kelly Sumpter and Ki9m Kraemer of K. Rue Designs, LLC. with California Closets, won first place in the Residential: Industry Partner Collaboration category.

Alumnus Cody Rackley, owner and principal designer of Haus of Sabo, was interviewed by the editors of Design Texas, a professional publication of the Texas Chapter of ASID. Rackley is the professional development director of the ASID Texas Chapter, which won the 2021 ASID Chapter Community Service Award. The Texas chapter won the award based on their work at the Rathgeber Center for Families, which is part of the Salvation Army Austin Area Command. The full interview is available here on page 40-43.

Mission and Ministry

A Message from Sr. Walter Maher, VP for Mission and Ministry

Dear University of the Incarnate Word community,

A headshot of Sr. Walter MaherAs we begin a new academic year, the Office of Mission and Ministry would like to invite you to take a compassionate look at our University community – our home away from home; at our church – our family of families; and at our world – our big family of nations. In order to do so, we ask you to use the Christian lenses of faith, hope, and love and to fight against the isolation and loneliness, loss and grief, suffering and death that has threatened to engulf us during the past pandemic months.

As members of a nuclear family, a local family (i.e., university), a larger family (i.e. the church), and a global family (i.e., the world), all of us are invited to contemplate what it means to be human and to find concrete ways to contribute to the human flourishing of our entire human family. For these reasons, the office of Mission and Ministry would like to invite all of us to engage in communal reflection and to take a close and careful look at the words of Pope Francis' post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, on love in the family.

Amoris laetitia, signed on March 19, 2016 (the Solemnity of St. Joseph), brings together the results of the two Synods on the family (2014 and 2015) that were convoked by Pope Francis. The document begins by addressing the need to avoid judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles and concrete daily-lived realities and milieu. Instead, we are asked to meet people where they are, to consider the complexities of people’s lives, and to respect people’s consciences when it comes to making moral decisions.

Concretely speaking, Amoris laetitia's first chapter looks at the ideal of family, as expressed in Scriptures. Chapter two looks at the concrete experiences and challenges of families. Chapter three presents the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Chapter four is a rich and valuable presentation of the role of charity in married life. Chapter five is entirely dedicated to explore love’s fruitfulness and procreation. Chapter six treats various pastoral perspectives that are aimed at forming solid and fruitful families according to God’s plan. Chapter seven addresses the education of children. Chapter eight is an invitation to mercy and pastoral discernment in extraordinary situations. Chapter nine is devoted to marital and family spirituality. Amoris Laetitia aptly concludes with a Prayer to the Holy Family.

During this academic year, the Office of Mission and Ministry would like to invite you to discuss openly and respectfully some of the most important insights contained in Amoris Laetitia, such as

  1. The need to understand families and individuals in all their complexities.
  2. The role of conscience in moral decision making.
  3. The need to fully integrate divorced and remarried Catholics into the church.
  4. The need for all members of the family to live good Christian lives.
  5. The need to affirm traditional teachings on marriage, as well as to look at realistic expectations.
  6. The need to properly educate children and teenagers in sex and sexuality.
  7. The moral imperative to respect and welcome all into God's family.

Amoris Laetitia seeks emphatically to affirm in a profound, positive, and pastoral way the very rich and complex tapestry of family life. The apostolic exhortation is a close reading of family life, with spiritual insights and practical wisdom that is useful for every couple who wants to build a family. Above all, Amoris Laetitia speaks the language of experience and of hope, patently based on careful attention to the lived-reality of married couples over many years.

We invite you to open the text (Amoris laetitia) and to begin reading it. We can assure you that you will find much richness therein contained.

Sr. Walter Maher, CCVI
VP for Mission and Ministry

Upcoming Masses

The interior of Out Lady's Chapel

Monthly Memorial Mass

As has been our custom for many years, once a month, we remember our recently departed alumni, students, faculty, staff, friends, family, Incarnate Word Sisters and benefactors of the Incarnate Word family during our Sunday Eucharist in Our Lady's Chapel. The experience of loss within our own University community – especially in this last year – has made these communal remembrances even more necessary and important. Through our prayers and care for one another, we become a stronger and more united community.

Our next memorial Mass will be held this Sunday, Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. in Our Lady’s Chapel. 

Registration links for in-person (limited seating) or virtual attendance via Zoom for this liturgy may be found on our UMM event registration site.

For more information, please contact Brenda Dimas at (210) 829-3128, or email

Mass of the Holy Spirit

In keeping with a long tradition dating from the founding of the great European universities in the Middle Ages, UIW celebrates the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of each academic year. During the liturgy, we ask for the inspiration, guidance and presence of God's spirit on all of our campus activities. This festive event gathers the entire University community together to rededicate ourselves to UIW's Mission, to renew friendships, and to welcome new members. Registration links for in-person (limited seating) or virtual attendance via Zoom for this liturgy may be found on our UMM event registration site.

For more information, please contact Brenda Dimas at (210) 829-3128 or email .

See updated safety protocols for Our Lady's Chapel

Reminders from Mission and Ministry

A church steeple and trees

Need Prayers?

Our UIW family is always in our prayers. If you have a special intention for which you would like us to pray, please feel free to submit it through our prayer link or via email to

Join our flock!

If you consider UIW your worshiping community, or simply want to stay connected to Mission and Ministry to receive information about our events, ministries, and other ministry-related news, we invite you to register as part of our University of the Incarnate Word Flocknote network. Flocknote is the best means we have of keeping connected with our UIW family and sharing information quickly. Registration is free and open to students, faculty, staff, administrators, Incarnate Word Sisters, alumni and friends of UIW.

Join Flocknote here

Community News

UIW Health Clinic Welcomes New Medical Director

A headshot of Dr. Shaylon RettigDr. Shaylon Rettig has been named the medical director of the UIW Health Clinic, following Dr. David Garza's, assistant professor of Osteopathic Medicine, tenure in the role. Garza returned to the School of Osteopathic Medicine to serve as the family residency clerkship director. Rettig received a B.S. degree (Biology) from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, an MBA from East Carolina University, and his M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He completed his residency in pediatrics at the East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and was a fellow in pediatric sports medicine from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Before joining UIW, Retting worked as a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician and Pediatric Sports Medicine Physician at Baylor College of Medicine Children's Hospital of San Antonio. Rettig serves as a medical consultant for several area school districts as well as for the San Antonio PreK4SA program. He volunteers for the San Antonio Rodeo, South Texas Amateur Boxing Association. 

Rettig played collegiate basketball for four years while working on his bachelor’s degree at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Family drew her in, UIW's community helped her find her passion

Family brought Dr. Kaela Navarro to UIW, but through the community she found here, she discovered her true passion and the support to pursue that passion.

Kaela Navarro stands in a lab“I wanted to stay close within my community.”  Family is one of the reasons Dr. Kaela Navarro, UIW class of 2013, chose the University of the Incarnate Word. Eight years later, it is that feeling of family that Navarro fondly speaks of after she returned to UIW to address the students in this year’s Honors Program.

“My family is from San Antonio and, UIW offered me really great scholarship opportunities. They also had the option to apply to the Honors Program, and I got in. I really liked what UIW had to offer and that is why I decided to come here.”

That decision changed Navarro’s life. She initially thought she wanted to go into pharmacy, but when she started doing research, a requirement for the UIW Honors Program, she fell in love with a different field of study.

“I started work with Dr. Betsy Leverett, and I loved my summer in the lab,” said Navarro. “I thought that it was so fun. I got to do really cool stuff, like work with things that are living, even though people don’t really think about algae as living things. I continued with research throughout my time here.”

By the time she graduated from UIW, Navarro had been accepted into a program at Texas State called the South Texas Doctoral Bridge Program, which provides underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with research training and academic preparation in a master’s program, helping them transition into a Ph.D.

At Texas State, Navarro worked in a lab that used fish for cancer research. Initially concerned about the ethics and safety of the fish, she was relieved when she learned that there are rules and regulations that govern what researchers can and cannot do with the animals.

Navarro was even more fascinated that there were veterinarians who help ensure the animals were well cared for during the research process. The more she learned about that field, the more she loved taking care of animals while still contributing to research.

“I decided to start pursuing that field, and Dr. Rachell Booth, who is here at UIW now, she was at Texas State at the time, helped me get some shadowing opportunities to see it was truly that I wanted to work with animals. And I did,” said Navarro. “I also loved working in a veterinary clinic, so I applied to veterinary school and got in, and at the end of four years, I applied to my residency and I’m currently doing a residency in laboratory animal medicine.”

Between her time at Texas State and her current residency program at Stanford University, Navarro earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University. She has spent time doing research at the University of Michigan and working as a veterinarian at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the Animal Emergency Center. In addition to her current residency program, she is working as a college liaison for the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association.

Navarro attributes her growth and compassion to UIW and the faculty and staff who served as mentors. She took the lessons she learned, both in and out of the classroom, and she strives to pass them along to those she works with.

“[My mentors taught me] to stay passionate and invest in those passions. To make connections with people, and genuine connections, not just trying to get to the next step, genuinely connecting with people. And to take time for yourself, because it's really easy to get busy and only focus on one thing,” said Navarro.

Much has changed at UIW since Navarro graduated. While on campus speaking to the Honors Program and visiting with mentors this past week, she had an opportunity to see some of the growth. Facilities have been built or renovated, and Founders Hall expanded UIW’s Broadway campus footprint. But despite the physical changes, Navarro says, the heart of UIW and its culture are both just the way she remembers.

“Some things don’t change, and that’s coming back and seeing the professors still being heavily invested in their students and really caring about the community here at UIW. UIW offers you what many departments, STEM or not, in larger schools cannot: that ability to work closely with people, your professors, who are experts in their field. Take advantage of it.”


Save the Date: UIW Blood Drive

People participate in a blood drive

Did you know if you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives?

The University community is invited to a South Texas Blood & Tissue Center Blood Drive on Tuesday, Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday, September 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the SEC Ballroom. The Blood Drive is hosted by the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership & Sustainability, Campus Engagement and the Student Engagement Center.

Students, faculty, and staff can book an appointment using the following links:

Be the Match will also be available on-site for those who are interested in learning more about becoming a marrow donor. Learn more about Be the Match here.

Text UIW to 61474 to join the registry!

For more information, please contact the Ettling Center at or Campus Engagement at

Cardinal Corner

Meet UIW Student Leader, Chloe Hipolito-Uribe

UIW Welcome Week

Three students stand outside

From August 18 - 27, UIW students moved back onto campus in preparation for fall classes and enjoyed the annual UIW Welcome Week festivities.

Students stand at a booth

During the first week of the semester, various departments and organizations on campus held Welcome Week events, celebrating our Cardinals' return to the Nest!

Students pose displaying T-shirtsIn a break between classes, students enjoyed events such as a karaoke night, movie night and staples such as the Cardinal Crawl, UIW River Jam, SGA Student Org Fair and more! The events included free food and beverages, live music, comedic acts and information about how to stay involved in campus life activities and student organizations throughout the semester. 

Special thanks to UIW Campus Engagement and all departments and student organizations who contributed to ensuring our Cardinals enjoyed their first week back at the Nest!

Alumni and Parent Relations

Alumni Spotlight: Emmanuel Watkins

A headshot of Emmanuel WatkinsUIW alumnus Emmanuel Watkins, MA ’17, was recently named staff minister and small groups manager at Faith Chapel in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Watkins, who has served in ministry for over 15 years in various capacities, says his mission is to teach and equip others on how to activate their faith. He is also the author of Fighting For Zuri, which chronicles Watkins’ experience in an effort to speak to and empower those who are facing challenging, life-altering situations.

In addition to ministry, Watkins is an educator and teaches at the collegiate level. He holds a B.A. in African and African-American Studies from Berea College and a M.A. in Education from the University of the Incarnate Word. He is currently earning a doctoral degree at the University of Alabama.

Congratulations, Emmanuel!

Cardinal Tailgate: September 11

People having an outdoor meal

Join your UIW Alumni and Parent Associations for a Cardinal-style tailgate on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Our tailgate will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the Ann Barshop Natatorium (tailgate spots 10 - 12). Admission is only $5 per person and includes food and beverage (while supplies last). 

Game tickets are not included and can be purchased online here.

UIW alumni receive an $8 discount at checkout using code "Alumni 2021" The discount is valid for stadium sections C and D only. 

August Alumni Birthday Raffle

A woman take a selfie with Red the mascotWe 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 August, you can enter the raffle here

Happy Birthday to all our August Cardinals!


UIW alumnus becomes first professional swimmer in UIW Athletics history

Hector Ruvalcaba swimmingUniversity of the Incarnate Word's swimming program has made history through Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz. Cruz has signed to be part of the International Swimming League (ISL), making him the first Cardinal in history to swim at the professional level.

"Hector has not just become a pro, he has been a pro since the first practice at UIW," said head swimming coach Phillip Davis. "Now he is officially a pro swimmer, but his mindset from day one that I met him has always been professional."

Cruz competed on the men's swimming and diving team from 2016-20. He was named to the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association's (CCSA) 2010-19 All-Decade Team and the 2020 Scholar All-American Team by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.

"Hector is smart, and he is talented, but those two things are not all it takes to be great," said Davis. "Hector has GRIT. I've seen many talented and smart people not find success in life, not just sports, but the winners and successful people have grit and Hector has that in buckets."

Cruz, a Baja, California, native, swam for Unifront High School for four years before attending UIW.

"My experience at UIW helped me to grow as a person and as an athlete," said Cruz. "As a DI swimmer, I learned to be disciplined and always work hard to achieve my goals. This helped me take my athletic career to the next level and become a professional athlete."

Cruz swam the freestyle and individual medley during his time with the Cardinals. He will compete in the butterfly 200 meter and individual medley 200 and 400 meter with the LA Current organization under the ISL.

The ISL is a professional swimming organization that consists of 10 clubs. Each club will have a minimum roster of 28 swimmers and a maximum of 36 swimmers. The ISL club teams participate in regular season camps, playoff camps, and final matches.

In order to declare for the ISL draft season, a swimmer competing in the butterfly 200 meter and individual medley 200 and 400 meters, like Cruz, must qualify with a time of 1:59.50 or 2:02.20 for the 200-meter butterfly, a 2:01.00 or 2:04.50 for the 200-meter individual medley and a 4:18.00 or 4:22.00 time for the 400-meter individual medley.

Cruz swam a 1:57.91 for the 200-meter butterfly, a 4:19.02 for the 400-meter individual medley and a 2:00.13 for the 200-meter individual medley.

Davis reflects on the many people who helped Cruz get to this momentous spot in his career. "Hector's family is an incredible force of support for Hector and his siblings. They advocate for their family and the sport of swimming like none other I have ever seen. It has been a great honor to be welcomed into their lives as well. This accomplishment belongs to Hector, but it is shared by many more people than you can put into a story."

Head coach Tom Rees adds sophomore transfer to women's tennis roster

Sofia Franco plays tennisStarting a new era, the University of the Incarnate Word's women's tennis program welcomes the incoming class for the 2021-22 season.  

First year head coach Tom Rees is excited to take over the program and has added a sophomore transfer from St. Bonaventure University to elevate the team to new heights. Sofia Franco Salcedo, from Pereira, Columbia, was the sole signee for the Cardinals this season.

"We are delighted to get Sofia on board as we begin a new era of women's tennis at UIW," Rees said. "Sofia is a talented, hard-working player. Her experience at the top of St. Bonaventure's lineup last season will add some vital experience to our roster. Above all, Sofia stood out during the recruiting process as a phenomenal person, and we look forward to welcoming her into the Cardinal family."

Franco Salcedo was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference second team selection as a freshman. She led the Bonnies with a team-high six wins playing at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, and she registered five wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.

The women's tennis team will kick off the fall season at the St. Mary's University Invitational on Sept. 10.

UIW Football by Position: Linebackers

Football student-athletes play a game of footballUniversity of the Incarnate Word linebackers coach Brandon Lechtenberg used four words to describe his group: speed, depth, physicality and experience. At the linebacker position, the Cardinals certainly are experienced. This fall, the Cardinals return all key contributors from the spring season, including two all-conference selections.

Senior Kelechi Anyalebechi led the Cardinal defense with 42 total tackles during the 2021 spring season, earning first team all-conference honors. He compiled a season-high 17 tackles in UIW's 42-20 victory at Lamar on March 6.

"Kelechi Anyalabechi transitioned from a defensive end to a Mike linebacker and made plays all over the field, earning first team all-conference honors. In addition to being a very physical tackler, he plays with high energy and runs sideline to sideline," said Lechtenberg on Anyalebechi's importance to the defense.

Anyalebechi was named to the first team preseason all-conference defense.

Redshirt Sophomore Isaiah Paul shined during the spring in his first full season as a starter, receiving third team all-conference recognition. Paul accumulated 38 total tackles and led the defense with 4.5 tackles for loss. Paul registered a career high 12 tackles against Lamar on March 6.

"Isaiah Paul earned all-conference honors in his first season as a full-time starter. Isaiah plays downhill very fast," Lechtenberg said. "He is elite at both defeating blocks and playing in an opponent's backfield." 

The hard-hitting outside linebacker was named to the second team preseason all-conference defense.

Lechtenberg also mentioned senior Gerald Bowie III as a potential breakout player at the linebacker position. Bowie emerged in the second half of the spring season as a versatile defender for the Cardinals. Against Northwestern State on April 10, Bowie made eight total tackles, recorded one sack, and recovered a fumble.

"Gerald Bowie had a solid spring season and looks to have made a jump with his playmaking ability throughout fall camp. He is one of the smartest players I have coached, allowing him to learn and play multiple positions within the defense," Lechtenberg said.

Akil Jones, a graduate transfer, is one of the newcomers Lechtenberg highlighted as also creating an impact at the position this season. According to Lechtenberg, Jones has shown phenomenal intelligence and toughness since arriving with the team.

Lechtenberg said he believes the keys to being a great linebacker involve balance, making reads, and communicating with the rest of the defense.     

"Great linebackers have great feet and great eyes. Facing modern offenses, a linebacker must constantly have his body in balance, allowing him to transition from a run read to a pass drop or perimeter throw quickly. The best can process information quickly, allowing them to anticipate offensive plays and communicate defensive adjustments to the entire unit," Lechtenberg said.

The Cardinal linebackers look poised to anchor the defense with speed, physicality and experience this fall.

Purchasing season tickets is the best way to experience UIW Football. Season tickets start at $115. Single game tickets are now available for purchase as well. Fans can upgrade their game-day experience by adding a Cardinals Club membership.

Fans interested in buying new season tickets can do so by visiting or by calling (210) 805-3000


COVID-19 On-Campus Testing

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. Updated COVID-19 guidance will continue to be shared in the coming weeks. Below you will find links to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test on one of UIW's campuses. 

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)