The year 2020 has long represented San Antonio’s aspirations as a city. Those incoming freshmen who complete their bachelor’s degree in four years will be the class of 2020, and their success could be a needed boost to SA2020’s goal to increase the number of adults in the city with college degrees.
The optimism following these seniors to college was raucously reenforced at SA2020’s College Signing Day celebration at the Alamo Convocation Center on May 6.
Emceed by SA2020’s Molly Cox and Russell Rush of Mix 96.1, the event was primarily a series of dance-offs, intercollegiate games, and other displays of school spirit celebrating the adventures ahead.
The teenagers found themselves sitting in a sea of 1,108 strangers from 38 high schools across the city, a valuable preview of the welcome weeks and orientations in their near future. They were seated with their future classmates, representing more than 30 destination schools. Cox brought her signature self-deprecating humor and charm to the event, warming up the room ahead of the more energetic elements.
“Any future theater majors?,” she asked. A couple of weak cheers answered her. “One day you, too, will be emceeing college signing day.”
A large and enthusiastic group in the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) were led by Rowdy, the UTSA mascot and a squad of cheerleaders. Other schools with less imposing numbers took some coaxing to join the cheering and dancing, but DJMen-yo proved all-powerful in that regard, and soon the tide of enthusiasm flooded the bleachers.
UTSA’s multi-talented Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, a cohort of mascots, and rapper Zeles, who graduated Warren High School and University of Texas at Austin, kept the crowd entertained and engaged between games and guests.
One guest in particular, Councilman Alan Warrick (D2), proved to be entertaining in his own right. The councilman first encouraged students to return to San Antonio after graduation.
“We need you here in San Antonio. After your four years, after your masters or after you get your PhD., come back,” Warrick said.
It was a sincere message, but Warrick’s triumphal moment was when he, suit and all, busted out his “strolling” skills, miraculously without ripping his pants or injuring himself.
After that the mascots showed off their own moves. If there was any reluctance left in the stands, the whipping, nae-naeing, moonwalking, break-dancing, and free-styling of the mascots melted it away in an explosion of cheering and laughter.
Represented schools handed out more than just t-shirts and foam fingers. They also doled out surprise scholarships.
Texas A&M- San Antonio (A&M-SA) president Cynthia Teniente-Matson announced that, in honor of its first ever freshmen class, the university would match any scholarship received through the San Antonio Education Partnership.
Alamo Colleges, Texas A&M-International, Texas A&M, and UTSA awarded $500 scholarships to signing day participants chosen at random. Sarah Salmon from Harlandale High School received a $1,000 scholarship from Firstmark Credit Union for her education at A&M-SA.
SA2020 works with several partners to organize and host Signing Day including San Antonio Education Partnership, P16Plus Council, Trinity University’s College Advising Corps, Advise Texas, UT Outreach-San Antonio, UTSA’s G-Force, and the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio.
The rally ended with a pledge written for first lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher campaign, which kicked off in San Antonio in 2014:
I believe in myself and my future.
I commit to enroll in college.
I commit to persevere when I get there.
I commit to graduate.
And no matter what, I commit to always reach higher for myself, for my family and for my community.
The Rivard Report extends its congratulations to the Class of 2016, now the Class of 2020.
Top image: A future college student waves a giant foam finger from San Antonio College in the air. Photo by Scott Ball.