Gabriella Villegas, recently named this semester’s Distinguished Senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio will take center stage as the Fall 2023 commencement speaker for the College of Business and College of Education and Human Development on Dec. 19.
Villegas is a first-generation transfer student, set to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Villegas made her mark as a student worker, earning accolades such as the Jag Women Rock Award and the prestigious Jaguar Award for Undergraduate Student Worker of the Year. With over 100 volunteer hours and two impactful Kinesiology internships under her belt, Gabriella embodies the spirit of dedication and service.
In a Q&A session, Villegas candidly shared her reflections on her college journey.
Q: How does it feel to be on the verge of graduating college?
A: It feels very scary but also very exciting.
Q: Looking back, what’s the most unexpected lesson you’ve learned in college?
A: I think knowing you have to fail to get back up.
Q: What advice would you give to your freshman self?
A: My freshman self, I would definitely tell her to study harder because everything will come at you before you know it.
Q: What’s the most memorable moment from your college journey?
A: I think getting my college ring and standing on the seal. It was like, wow, I’ve made it this far.
Q: Were there any professors or classes that left a lasting impact?
A: I can name so many names; I would definitely shout out my office, Student Life, everyone who worked here, the Cisneros Institute and I would definitely say Dr. Smith.
Q: What’s next for you after graduation?
A: A little bit of everything; I’ve been going to school for the past five years through the pandemic. I want to enjoy life because we never know when it will erupt again. I plan to work at Texas Physical Therapy Specialist and finish my prerequisites to apply to physical therapy.
Q: If you could sum up your college experience in one word, what would it be?
A: The word would be resilient. You will go down, but you get back up and fight for what you want.
Q: How did you feel when you learned you would speak at commencement, representing your graduating class?
A: I would say why me, why me, um, no, not really. I am very personable. My name is Gabby, and I love to gab. Having the opportunity to speak in front of everyone who has helped me along the way, there will never be enough words to express how thankful I am.
Q: What message do you hope to convey to your fellow graduates during your commencement speech?
A: I’d want them to know we’ve gotten this far and it’s only the beginning.
Q: What advice would you offer future graduates as they transition from college to the next chapter of their lives?
A: I would say it’s going to be scary, but the cool thing is you’re own now, and it’s up to you to figure out our path and create what it will look like.
Q: How do you plan to commemorate this momentous occasion after delivering your commencement speech?
A: I hope it will be recorded so I can look back and be like, oh my gosh! Who let me talk? I think I am definitely going to be in awe of the moment. In high school, I didn’t graduate with honors or anything, and now here I am, graduating college and giving the commencement speech. It’s very 180 for me.
Q: Any last words?
A: It’s been a long journey, but I’m thankful for all the bumps and bridges I had to jump over and find my way through to get to the end.
For more information about the Spring 2023 Commencement at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, please visit Graduate Services. The University invites families, friends and our fellow Jaguars to commemorate the graduates’ educational journey.
FALL 2023 COMMENCEMENT
When: December 19, 2023
10 a.m.- College of Arts and Sciences
3 p.m.- College of Business and College of Education and Human Development
Where: Freeman Coliseum, 3201 E. Houston St, San Antonio, TX 78219