The Word: UIW Community Newsletter - December 11, 2020


Celebrating the UIW Fall Class of 2020

A student in academic regalia. Image reads, "Celebrating the UIW Fall Class of 2020"

On Friday, Dec. 11, UIW kicks off graduation weekend, celebrating the UIW Fall Class of 2020! We’re honoring our grads all weekend with three special events.

Friday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m. - Virtual Baccalaureate Blessing:

University Mission and Ministry cordially invites the UIW family to gather in thanksgiving to celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments of our soon-to-be graduates.

Learn more and tune in to the Baccalaureate Blessing

Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. - Drive-Through Celebration:

Graduates are invited to come to campus on their designated evening for one last drive through our roadways as UIW students! Enjoy the Light the Way Christmas lights and celebrate with your loved ones from the safety of your vehicle. Wear your regalia, decorate your vehicle and get ready to honk your horn for the Class of 2020! An optional portrait opportunity in a designated location where social distancing measures can be implemented will also be available at this event. Graduates were sent an email with additional information, including where to reserve a ticket and what day they should participate. Campus will be closed to Light the Way visitors during this time.
* Please note, the drive-through event does not include a ceremony. Our virtual ceremony can be streamed at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13.

Learn more about the Drive-Through Celebration

Sunday, Dec. 13, 2 p.m. - Virtual Commencement Ceremony:

The virtual ceremony will be available to stream on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. On that day, you will see the ceremony video at the link below, as well as a unique slide for each graduate. For now, share this link with your family and friends and tell them to tune in to the ceremony on Dec. 13!

Virtual Commencement Ceremony


Team from UIW Campus Bajío wins $10,000 in HEBSBA’s Startup Challenge, Sponsored by HOLT Ventures

A screenshot of a video conference

A team of students from UIW Campus Bajío in Irapuato, Mexico, won first place and $10,000 in the 2020 Startup Challenge, hosted by the H-E-B School of Business and Administration.

The event encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit of students at the University through small business mentorship and financial funding. The Startup Challenge is sponsored by HOLT Ventures, the venture capital arm of HOLT CAT, the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States. 

This year's winning team, LU'UM, transforms recycled rubber material from car tires and shoe soles into a flooring product for use in a myriad of applications, including schools, gyms, and restaurants. The team is comprised of students Valeria Ramos Curiel (accounting and finance), Diana Jazmin Casas Del Angel (industrial engineering), and Santiago Meza (marketing). LU'UM pitched their business plan and product to a panel of judges during the Startup Challenge Finals, held Dec. 6, 2020, via Zoom video conference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. LU'UM is already in production and has secured orders for a Mexico-based fitness center, a local school, and a restaurant. They plan to use their $10,000 in funding to further their operations in Mexico and explore opportunities to expand to other Latin American countries. 

"The competition this year was unique in terms of promoting UIW's Mission to foster global engagement," said Dr. Adesegun Oyedele, event organizer and associate professor of International Business and Marketing. "We leveraged the power of digital technology to begin the process of creating UIW's first cross-border digital startup incubator." 

The 2020 Startup Challenge was a true demonstration of the international reach of the UIW entrepreneurial ecosystem. Of the seven teams that competed in the finals, two are from UIW's campuses in Mexico – UIW Campus Bajío in Irapuato and Centro Universitario Incarnate Word (CIW) in Mexico City. A team of students from UIW’s sister school SRH University in Heidelberg, Germany, also competed in the event. The other four teams in the Startup Challenge finals – led by students from Mexico, Honduras, Iran, and the United States – represented the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. 

The Startup Challenge Finals were also attended by UIW Provost Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo, who offered remarks as the event's keynote speaker. She spoke of the importance of understanding the global impact of our endeavors and appreciating the value of the different lived experiences of people around the world. 

"I'm proud and very honored to say that at Incarnate Word we have always been about not only the content of the concepts, but operationalizing what you're learning," Dr. Aranda-Naranjo said. "We are so grateful for our sponsor, HOLT Ventures, for providing this opportunity for our students." 

Learn more about the Startup Challenge

UIW Lands Major Funding for Neurosciences

A student in a white coat in a science lab

(Archive photo)

The University of the Incarnate Word is proud to announce it has received a grant in the amount of $32,992 from the Grass Foundation in support of Neuroscience education in the Biology and Engineering departments. Specifically, the grant will allow for the purchase of physiology equipment which will be provided to each student so that they have a hands-on experience learning neuroscience – even while learning remotely.

Each kit contains essentially three different amplifiers: one that measures muscle activity, one that allows students to measure heart rhythms and one that will allow them to measure neuronal activity in small organisms. Each of these physiological recording devices will provide a real time opportunity for students to practice their learning. Students will carry out experiments while remotely using guidance provided by UIW faculty via video. The grant also supports materials that will be used in the Engineering classes at UIW and outreach opportunities with Palo Alto College, with the overall goal being to get students excited about neuroscience.

The acquiring of these funds is timely, as UIW has just opened an Interdisciplinary Concentration in Neuroscience. “This Interdisciplinary Concentration in Neuroscience was developed by the departments of Psychology and Biology as a response to the national call to develop undergraduate programs, which offer training in fields of national importance,” says Dr. Veronica Martinez-Acosta, UIW professor of Biology. “Neuroscience has become one of the fastest growing fields in science and biomedicine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate in the Neuroscience-fields is expected to be between 8 – 19%.”

Engineering students at UIW will use the grant funds to learn more about artificial intelligence and machine learning. One of the kits allows students to learn about and build neuroprostetic models. The kits are developed by Back Yard Brains, a company that prides itself on fostering science education for everyone. This mission is in line with that of the Grass Foundation. Founded in 1955 at Harvard University, The Grass Foundation recognizes and supports efforts to use neuroscience as a way to unite thoughtful people across various socioeconomic and geographic barriers.

The Grass Foundation

UIWSOM Represented in 2020 Medical Year in Review

The cover of 2020 Medical Year in ReviewThe recent edition of San Antonio Medicine includes publications from several community members of the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine. Fourth-year medical student, Madeline Ruszala, wrote an article entitled, “Face-Mask-to-Face Medicine,” in which she described the challenges of learning medical education by Zoom during a pandemic. Dr. John Seidenfeld, associate professor of Osteopathic Medicine, published “Pandemonium 2020,” a recap of the year of COVID-19, and what lessons we have learned. Dr. Adam Ratner, professor of Osteopathic Medicine and assistant dean of Strategic Initiatives, wrote an article about COVID-19 and Pre-Clinical UME [Undergraduate Medical Education] at the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine. In his article, Ratner described the challenges of moving a very hands-on, experiential, case-based course from the classroom to Zoom. The magazine, a publication of the Bexar County Medical Society, is available now. 

2020 Medical Year in Review

Faculty Member Presents at Literacy Research Association Conference

A headshot of Mariannella NunezMariannella Nuñez, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of Teacher Education at the Dreeben School of Education, presented “Applying a transcaring literacy framework: A case study of a Guatemalan indigenous youth’s translingual practices,” at the 70th Literacy Research Association Annual Conference on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The Literacy Research Association is a professional organization of scholars committed to advancing literacy theory, research, and practice.  

The virtual presentation covered a secondary setting that continues to face challenges to achieve educational equity as public figures set barriers that trickle into the K-12 classroom. Educators have found ways to take steps to empower students through fostering language acquisition, academic success, and identity development.  

“Much of the research about translanguaging pedagogy has focused on elementary schools, given bilingual program requirements, access to materials and people who share the same L1 are more accessible than in secondary schools," said Dr. Nuñez. "I hope to add a different perspective to the bilingual and secondary education community, and to recent research on immigrant adolescents who use translanguaging pedagogy."

Dr. Nuñez also co-published “Descubriendo los recursos culturales de estudiantes indígenas Latinoamericanos a través de la literatura [Discovering the cultural resources of Latin American indigenous students through literature]” (Duran, Y., Mojica, Z., & Stewart, M.) in the Journal of Latinos in Education.  

Dr. Nuñez earned her Ph.D. in Reading Education from Texas Woman’s University and specialized in bilingual and ESL education. She has taught in elementary bilingual and ESL settings for 10 years. Prior to coming to UIW, Dr. Nuñez was a graduate research associate with a grant working with adolescent newcomers in high schools. Her certifications include EC-6/4-8 Bilingual (Spanish) Generalist and K-12 Reading Specialist. 

Pharmacy Faculty Receives Grant

A headshot of Dr. Paulo CarvalhoDr. Paulo Carvalho, associate professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received a Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program (SC3) grant for Novel artemisinin derivatives for chemogenomic profiling of Plasmodium falciparum. The four-year grant is in the amount of $389,028.  Dr. Carvalho will use those resources to give UIW students research opportunities, and to help them see practical applications for some of what they learn in Biology and Chemistry classes. 

SCORE is a research capacity-building program that seeks to increase the research competitiveness of faculty at institutions with limited NIH R01 funding and an explicitly-stated mission or historical track record in graduating students from groups nationally underrepresented in biomedical research with B.S./B.A., M.A., M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in biomedical-related sciences. 

Community News

The Impact of Your Gift is Limitless

During this Christmas season of blessings and gratitude, UIW is grateful for the support and commitment of our UIW community members. Your gifts have a significant and lasting impression on the entire UIW community as well as future generations of Cardinals.  

Your gift today ensures UIW prepares students for a lifetime. Take a look at what some of our current Cardinals had to say about the impact of your gifts. 

 A headshot of Antonio Bocanegra“I am thankful for receiving your thoughtful gift. Because of your donation, I'll be the first-generation student in my family to graduate from college in the United States. I will also be giving a great example to my two younger siblings of the importance of getting a college degree." — Antonio Bocanegra II, Communication Arts Major, Class of 2023 

“I am grateful to my scholarship donor and the support that has been given me.  COVID-19 has impacted my family and my education could have been put on pause if I had not received this scholarship. I will continue to do my best to reach my goals of becoming an English professor. It is my desire to make the same impact on my future students as my current professors have done for me.”  — Briana Ortiz, English, Class of 2023

A headshot of Jennifer Salyer

“I am grateful to you for the support you all have given me. I am a mother to four boys and covering the cost of tuition is often difficult. Therefore, it is an honor to be the recipient of a UIW scholarship. Your support helps me focus on my studies and do my best. Recently, I have been recognized as an award-winning designer. It will be my promise to maintain and continue to strive for outstanding academic achievement. I am forever grateful and cannot thank you enough.”  — Jennifer Salyer, Interior Design, Class of 2022

“As a father of three young children, I am motivated to better myself and set an example that my children are proud of. Donor support lessens the stress and financial burden that comes with going to college. During my time at UIW, I have been exposed to the many underserved populations that reside here in San Antonio. When I graduate, I would like to have a role in narrowing the healthcare disparities in these communities.”  —  Allan Mazurak, UIW BSN, Class of 2021 

Make Your Year-End Gift

Under the CARES Act 100% of donations are tax deductible. Please consider making a gift prior to Dec. 31, 2020 to get your deduction. 

UIW Departments Earn Praise for Service to International Students

A screenshot of a video conference

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services started the annual Outstanding Service to International Students award last year to recognize a department that has demonstrated exceptional service that goes above and beyond to help UIW international students.

After surveying international students this year, the Division of International Affairs would like to congratulate the Registrar’s Office and the University Advising Center on receiving the 2020 Outstanding Service to International Students Award! Thank you for your dedication and excellent support services for international students, especially during these challenging times.

Both departments were recognized for their service to international students in virtual gatherings. 

Visitation House Ministries' Anniversary Drive-Thru Event

The exterior of a white buildingYou are invited to Visitation House Ministries’ 35th Anniversary Drive-Thru Event! Join us on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 945 W. Huisache from 3 - 5 p.m.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. Receive a sweet treat and be entered into a Christmas raffle with a live drawing on Facebook at 5:30 p.m.

We appreciate your support as together, we continue to empower and educate mothers and their children.

We look forward to seeing you as you drive through! 

Light the Way: Holiday Drive - Reminders

Trees with Christmas lights and a church steeple

Have you made your way to see the Christmas lights at the corner of Broadway and Hildebrand yet? We have some important Light the Way reminders for those of you planning on paying us a visit to enjoy the twinkling lights. 

  • Campus will be closed to Light the Way visitors on Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. as we celebrate our graduates with a drive through celebration. 
  • The light will remain lit from 5:30 p.m. - midnight now through Jan. 6. 
  • Guests and visitors do not need a ticket to come view the lights. Tickets were only required for opening weekend. 

Learn More About Light the Way

Mission and Ministry

Baccalaureate Blessing

A decorated graduation capThe University of the Incarnate Word will hold its Fall Baccalaureate Blessing on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. 

The history of the Baccalaureate ceremony is firmly entrenched in the medieval European custom of presenting graduating candidates for the degree of bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri) or recognition of their achievement. It is traditionally a religious service of celebration and thanksgiving for the time the graduates (bachelor and advanced degrees) have devoted to growing in wisdom at a place of education.

University Mission and Ministry cordially invites the UIW family to gather in thanksgiving on this interactive Zoom platform to celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments of our soon-to-be graduates. Though we are unable to gather in the traditional way, we know that having the opportunity to see friends, family, and mentors who have impacted one's life is an important part of the celebration of this day.

Stream the Baccalaureate Blessing

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12)

On Dec. 12, the Church celebrates the apparition of Mary to Juan Diego in 1531 in central Mexico. Mary asked that Juan Diego relate to the bishop of Mexico City her request that a temple be built reflecting her lasting concern for everyone. When Mary spoke to Juan Diego, she addressed him as "Juanito" (Johnny) in the tender way a mother would her son.

Anticipating the bishop’s disbelief, Juan Diego asked "the beautiful lady" to send someone else, but Mary insisted that he was the best person for this mission. When Juan Diego also explained that he had other worries, Mary assured him she was there to help him, saying "Am I not your mother?" In the end, Juan Diego overcame his difficulties and Mary left her image on his tilma as proof of her continued assistance in his and our needs.

A Reflection on Hope By Fr. Roger Keeler, OST

A lit candle

Headlines from my newsfeed this afternoon: “Coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise San Antonio area: 72,817 confirmed; 1,476 deaths; positivity rate 8.4%;” “2 dead at Nebraska Sonic drive-in;” “GOP Senator: Trump should start transition;” “Trump loses lawsuit that sought to block Pennsylvania win for Biden;” “19-year-old shot while trying to sell used cell phone;” “Protestors torch Guatamala Congress in fury over budget cuts;” “Gaza’s health system about to be overwhelmed;” “Iraqi military says rocket attack in Baghdad kills child;” “Plastic masks, PPE, biomedical waste choke water bodies in India;” “Pope John Paul II promoted cleric after learning about sex abuse allegations;” “Hurricane Iota: At least 30 dead in strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year.”

Thanksgiving didn't have any traditional turkey dinner with family and friends: many of us were alone with Alexa and the T.V. as our only companions. And Christmas will not be “Holly and Jolly” either. Who wants to shop for gifts when that otherwise pleasant excursion could well be a life or death experience? Why bother with sending the cards? Those getting them will not be having “Happy Holidays” either. And putting up the tree and decorating? It all has to go away when the days are even shorter and gloomier than they are today.

This is not Elvis’s “Blue Christmas,” this is a downright shadowy, bleak, miserable, lonely, depressing time with nothing to look forward to – save for more of the same – and none of it seems too promising.

Just stay in bed. Pull the duvet over our head. Replace “normal” with “vacated.”

How we wish it could be different! Right?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the virus would just go away and we could leave our cocoons? Imagine having dinner or a party with family and close friends, exchanging gifts and laughing at miserable attempts to croon like Crosby; listening to carolers as we stroll through the shopping centre; the carefree banter with the clerk as he wraps the purchase we just made; sitting in a full church on Christmas morning with children proudly displaying the sweater Nan knitted?

Wouldn’t it be nice to turn on NPR in the morning to learn that not only has the virus been vacated world-wide, but that peace accords have been jubilantly signed that will end strife in the Middle East, in the Horn of Africa, and Afghanistan; that a simple, nontoxic chemical solution has been found that will dissolve microplastics wherever they are found; and that the heads of every government on the planet has taken steps to eradicate global hunger by the end of next year?

Wouldn’t it be nice! What a dream! Rather like:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11/6-9).

Wouldn’t it be nice! No, more than nice! Perfection itself! A utopian ideal? Certainly! Yet, this vision of “original innocence” is the dream of the Creator, who intended the world to be lived in with total justice, equity and harmony “so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn. 15/11). This is the Reign/Dominion/Kingdom of God itself: “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

This is the very stuff of hope – that most illusory and scant virtue in our day – that is the driving force of our energy and effort. 

Georgetown theologian Monika Hellwig (1929-2005) put it this way:

"The challenge for Christian spirituality and pastoral strategy in our times is to rediscover in depth the personal and communitarian dimensions of the theological virtue of hope, and especially to keep discerning in changing circumstances the interdependence of the personal and social dimensions of hope for the true quest and welcoming of the reign of God coming among us."

But how do we “rediscover … the virtue of hope … [with its] personal social dimensions … in order to [welcome] the reign of God coming among us”?

French poet Charles Péguy (1873-1914) penned Le Porche du Mystère de la Deuxième Vertu – “The Portal to the Mystery of Hope” in 1911.  In it, he recounts a vision of three sisters walking hand-in-hand along a road together. The two older sisters, Faith and Love, have little Hope between them. At first glance, it appears that Faith and Love are pulling little Hope along. However, upon drawing closer, one is surprised to see that this is not the case: it is little Hope who is firmly leading her sisters!

Lost in her sisters’ skirts.
And they willingly believe that it’s the two older ones
who drag the youngest along by the hand.
In the middle.
Between them.
To make her walk this rocky path of salvation

It is she, the little one, who carries them all.
Because Faith sees only what is.
But she, she sees what will be.
Charity loves only what is.
But she, she sees what will be.

Faith sees what is.
In time and in eternity.
Hope sees what will be.
In time and for eternity.

This is the power of hope – a gift of the Spirit of the Living One implanted within each one of us – a power we are invited to reclaim both as individuals and as people deeply interconnected with one another.

Pope Francis put it this way when, on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, he gave the world vision for humanity in an encyclical letter entitled Fratelli Tutti– “brothers [and sisters!] all.” In paragraph 55, he writes:

I invite everyone to renewed hope, for hope ‘speaks to us of something deeply rooted in every human heart, independently of our circumstances and historical conditioning. Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our heart and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love … Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile.’ Let us continue, then, to advance along the paths of hope.

Wouldn’t it be nice if hopes’ boldness was unleashed in these shadowy, bleak, miserable, lonely, depressing times?

It would! And here is how.

Send out those cards with a hand-written encouraging note in each one. It is a little glimmer of light for each one receiving it. Purchase those gifts! Buy them online and have them delivered. Or buy gift cards the next time you go for groceries or to fill up with gas. Not the most personal gift to be sure, yet “it’s the thought that counts,” right? And we all like to receive an unexpected expression of thoughtfulness, don’t we? Go ahead! Put up that tree and decorate the house. What’s nicer than sitting in the evening warmth, nestled beneath an afghan, with the sparkling lights of the tree dancing their reflection in the darkened windows’ glass? Light some candles. Open a bag of potpourri. Simmer some cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel on the stove. Prepare a good dinner. Open a bottle of wine. Wallow in the promise of Emmanuel – God is with us!

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5/3-5).

Oh, and don’t bother asking Alexa to loop Crosby and those Christmas carols. No! Ask her to play “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.

And wouldn’t it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong
Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Sunday Morning Prayer: Third Sunday of Advent

santuaryUniversity Mission and Ministry invites you to attend our weekly Sunday Morning Prayers. While we cannot gather in-person to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist in Our Lady’s Chapel or the Chapel of the Incarnate Word, we can gather virtually and unite our prayers of petition during this celebration of the Liturgy of the Word. The service will be held on Zoom. The platform will open at 10:45 a.m. for an opportunity to greet one another before prayer. We hope you’ll be able to join us! For more information, please contact Lena Gokelman or Carmen Aguilera at or (210) 832-3207.

RSVP to receive a Zoom link to the Dec. 13 Prayer Service

In the News

Class of 2020 Recognized in San Antonio Express-News

The cover of a newspaperThe UIW Fall Class of 2020 is being honored with a special edition of the San Antonio Express-News, featuring a multi-page tabloid celebrating their accomplishments. Each graduate will receive a copy of the tabloid with the graduation gift. UIW community members may purchase a copy on Sunday, Dec. 13, wherever you normally get your Sunday paper. The tabloids will also be included in this weekend's home deliveries to Express-News subscribers.

See the digital version


Students Committed to Sustainability Service Projects

A collage of people planting plants

Since the transition to alternative/online service opportunities, our Cardinals continue to support and commit to sustainability service projects from home. Students have submitted 185 “Green Service Projects” that include creating garden and planting trees, flowers and other types of plants. Student information on Green Service Projects can be found on GivePulse (UIW login required). 


Students, faculty and staff are invited to learn more about the Compassion Tree Project and ways to advocate for the environment on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at a virtual service event. 

Learn more about the service project

For more information on opportunities for faculty and/or student organization collaboration, or for information about service work completed by UIW students, please contact the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership & Sustainability at

Cardinal Corner

Before They Leave the Nest

Before they leave the Nest, we want to introduce you to some of our graduating Cardinals! These students were nominated to be featured in this week's newsletter by UIW community members who recognized their dedication to their studies and the hard work that helped them make it to this moment. 

Rozlyn Bermea

A headshot of Rozlyn Bermea in academic regaliaRozlyn Bermea, nominated by Dr. Elda Martinez, director of Teacher Education, completed her clinical teaching in a first-grade classroom in Fall 2020. The assignment required her to teach her students in person and online simultaneously. According to her cooperating teacher, she did so with flexibility, proficiency, and patience. She demonstrated mastery of content and utilized many technology resources; all while keeping six-year-olds engaged. Throughout her experience, she exemplified professionalism, a willingness to always go the extra mile, and a commitment to meeting the needs of each student. Most importantly, she brought joy and kindness to her learners every day. 

Rozlyn also served as a peer minister with UIW Mission & Ministry. This position allowed her to truly dive into the history of UIW and come to learn more about our founders, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. 

"Our history is truly fascinating," she said. "I have come to admire the Sisters and hope to share their incredible works with others."

Rozlyn isn't done just yet! She'll be returning soon for a Master's in Education. 

" UIW is not just the University you are attending - it is the family you are a part of," she added. "At UIW, professors, faculty, staff, fellow students and Sisters are always willing to be there for you, myself included!"

Marisa Castro

A photo of Marisa Castro in academic regaliaMarisa Castro was nominated by her loving parents, two people who have had a front-row seat to watching her growth and success her whole life. Her list of accomplishments is extensive, but perhaps more impressive is how she plans to use her skills - in the service of others. Marisa is graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy. She has already used her love of music to help others, working with Hearts Need Art, a non-profit dedicated to providing uplifiting music and art to adults with cancer. 

Marisa is currently preparing to pass the Certification Board for Music Therapists exam (CBMT), after which she hopes to continue her training to become a neurologic music therapist. She just completed an internship at The Ecumenical Center and looks forward to continuing her work there once she earns her MT-BC certificate so that she may continue to utilize music therapy in clinical settings. 

During her time at UIW, Marisa was an active member and officer for the Music Therapy Student Association. She played a pivotal role in organizing events like Music Therapy Awareness Night and the first-ever UIW Music Therapy Conference. 

Her busy student life taught her a thing or two about the importance of finding time to unwind. Her advice for younger Cardinals is, "in order to do your best you NEED your rest! It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re booked and busy, but you must remember that your mental and physical well-being matters." 

" Just be kind to yourself," she added. "Trust me, what is meant for you, will not miss you."

Alejandra Escobar

A photo of Alejandra Escobar in academic regaliaIf one word were to describe Alejandra's journey as a UIW Cardinal, it would be "service." Alejandra Escobar was nominated by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, CCIV, professor emerita of Religious Studies. Sr. Martha Ann detailed Alejandra's impact on the UIW community with a long list of the many service projects she has been part of organizing. 

Alejandra first earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is now completing her master's degree. During her time as a student, she did such outstanding work in class, that she was personally asked to assist with earning grants for the University's service learning initiatives. Alejandra has also taken part in service trips to the Rio Grande Valley and Oaxaca, Mexico, where she served as a translator to assist medical volunteers in communicating with local residents. 

It's no surprise that when asked what her favorite part of being a UIW Cardinal was, she said it was the University's heart and Mission. 

"I plan to continue writing grants to help bring awareness to important topics such as interfaith," she said of her plans after graduation. "I love bringing people of different backgrounds together to share the richness of their traditions with one another. I am also interested in creating initiatives that promote intercultural awareness. The world is full of beautiful diversity, and there is more than enough appreciation to go around."

Did you nominate an Outstanding Graduating Cardinal who you don't see here? Nominees will continue to be featured in next week's newsletter. 

Alumni and Parent Relations

Alumni Spotlight: Javier Garcia, MBA '06

A headshot of Javier Garcia

Commitment, persistence and dedication are just a few of the virtues leading Javier Garcia to success in the financial technology industry, an industry with tremendous growth in the past decades led by new technology and innovation.

Garcia, a 2006 graduate, is currently working for the biggest multinational financial services corporation in the world, Visa, where he was recently promoted to vice president of third-party tech management. 

Javier shared with us how his MBA education and experience at the University of the Incarnate Word prepared him for professional challenges he would later encounter in his career.

How did your education at UIW prepare you for what you’re doing today?

“There are courses I took where I was able to apply concepts immediately, and others that I wasn’t able to pull from until a job transition into a new role—of course, this is from a skillset perspective. Fast forward a few years to my current role, I reference from each of the courses during the program in creative ways to solve business challenges and to lead my team through the problem solving process. Although, I would say the diversity of thought and my peer group throughout my MBA program are what I leverage most—the ability to have candid conversations with colleagues in all levels of an organization from a diverse perspective and understanding how people approach problems differently is by far my most utilized experience from UIW.”

What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UIW?

“Throughout the program, there were course objectives I utilized in my job; however, I was able to expand my coursework from the entire program into practical application during the capstone course to provide a solution to a stakeholder. I was also able to more confidently take on real world problems that have few parameters and pull from my “UIW toolkit” to truly create something that would benefit those seeking a solution. Ultimately, the coursework helped me expand my horizons and helped me realize that I was interested in the managerial economics/business strategy space.” 

Who influenced you most during your time at UIW?

“Dr. David Vequist had the greatest influence—his passion for his craft was and still is contagious. Through his guidance and mentorship, I learned how to approach problems from an end-to-end view and look for solutions with long-term impact. In my opinion, he is simply phenomenal at helping students mature their thought process and set high standards for themselves. He brings out the best out of people.”

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? 

Business, specifically in the FinTech space, is truly global—it requires you to be agile and deal with ambiguity. Don’t be afraid to take on risks, new challenges and make mistakes. Surround yourself with high performing individuals and leaders that you can learn from. Give yourself the “right to wake up smarter every day” and approach work with great humility.

Learn more about the MBA program

Parent Advisory Board Info Session

At a recent UIW Parent Advisory Board information session, viewers had the opportunity to learn about the board members' experience and involvement with the Parent Association. For more information on how to join, contact us at or (210) 805-5899. 


Cardinals come out on top, 69-63, against Alamo City rival UTSA 

Women's basketball players play a game

Junior Starr Omozee was at the wheel in Thursday night’s 69-63 win over UTSA, driving 16 points to the basket to lead the University of the Incarnate Word women's basketball team to victory.  

“I am extremely proud of how far this team has come in a very short period of time,” said UIW Head Coach Jeff Dow. “I thought we showed a lot of resilience really in both halves. We were scuffling a bit in the first half, but the biggest lead they ever got was four points. In the fourth quarter, we got it up to a 12-point lead and it seemed to disappear in a hurry, but we made some big shots and free throws down the stretch to get some separation at the end. We literally spent time on late game situations for the first time in practice yesterday, but I thought we executed well down the stretch, especially on the defensive end.” 


  • Three Cardinals scored in double-figures: Omozee (16), Brittney Stafford (11) and Myra Bell (11).  
  • UIW outscored UTSA in the paint, 36-30; the Cardinals also shot better from the field (44.1 percent) and from 3-point range (26.3 percent).  
  • Brenna Perez (5 pts), Omozee (16 pts), Stafford (11 pts) and Bell (11 pts) all recorded season highs in points scored.  

The Cardinals picked up their first win of the season in their home opener against the Roadrunners, gaining momentum each quarter that would eventually lead to victory.  

UIW scored on its first possession off a jump shot by Omozee. Despite the Cardinal’s early momentum, the teams went shot-for-shot with four ties in the quarter. The Roadrunners went on a 4-0 run late, putting them ahead, 18-17, going into the second quarter.  

Brittney Stafford’s driving layup at the start of the second quarter got the ball rolling for UIW. UTSA responded by taking back the lead and keeping UIW at arm's length as the clock wound down in the first half, but the Cardinal's 5-2 run, capped by Omozee’s buzzer-beating pull-up jump shot, put UIW ahead at the break.  

UIW’s stout third-quarter defense held UTSA to just 31 percent from the field and zero percent from beyond the arc. Myra Bell came off the bench to put up six points in the quarter to help the red and black outscore the Roadrunners, 22-17.  

UIW’s fourth quarter push, that put them ahead by as much as 10 points three times in the period, only let UTSA within three at any one time as the Cardinals clinched the 69-63 victory.  


“First off, I want to thank our athletic administration and our sports medicine team for their efforts in making this game possible. Everything went very smooth from start to finish, and we are very appreciative for them pulling this off.”  

“This might seem odd to say this early in the season, but this was a big win for our program. To have four freshmen play such a significant role, two from the San Antonio area (Brenna Perez and Myra Bell), and knock off your local rival and a Conference USA opponent at that, is huge for our confidence going forward.”   

“Starr Omozee was tough again tonight in coming away with 16 points and seven rebounds. Kara Speer was solid in pulling down seven rebounds. Brenna Perez was very efficient with her three assists, zero turnovers and making two of the three from the field.  Jaaucklyn Moore gave us a lift with six defensive rebounds from her guard position and two clutch free throws late in the game. And Myra Bell was very productive with her 11 points on just six shots in only 13 minutes of playing time. In reality, everyone contributed to this win and gave us something positive.”  


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.

Cardinal Daily Health Check

COVID-19 Information Site

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)