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Just two years before moving to San Antonio, my family moved from Savannah, Georgia, to North Hollywood, California. I was 11 years old and angry about having to uproot the life we had built, but I made the conscious decision to be optimistic and enjoy the ride. It was a major culture shock at first, but experiencing new foods, new people and new cultures sparked in me a desire to keep exploring and learning.

Though I knew nothing about San Antonio when we made the move — and had admittedly low expectations — I was open to new experiences. I was only 13 when we moved and graduated high school at the height of the pandemic, so it wasn’t until recently that I really had a chance to explore the city on my own. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the city’s population and all its hidden gems.

In 2020, I enrolled at Texas A&M University-San Antonio to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology, with the goal of later attending medical school to obtain a psychiatric doctoral degree. My favorite class is Health Psychology, taught by Professor Ho Huyhn. He is passionate about the topic, so he teaches in a way that is compatible with all learning types — and he’s absolutely hilarious.

The campus is still in the developing stages, so it isn’t as big as other college campuses, but we are expected to expand to the size of the College Station campus or larger. There are seven major buildings, all within a five-minute walk of each other, so it’s easy to navigate. My favorite place to study is the student success center in my dorm. I sit in a specific booth with all my friends and we all just work together for hours at a time. We tend to talk more than study, but we still manage to get all our work done.

Patrice Campbell is the vice president of the Black Student Union at Texas A&M San Antonio. She and BSU President D.’Markus Floyd belfries after a recent BSU event in the student involvement office Tuesday.
Patrice Campbell is the vice president of the Black Student Union at Texas A&M-San Antonio. She and BSU President D’Markus Floyd debrief after a recent BSU event in the student involvement office Tuesday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Campus amenities include a game room, pavilion, sand pit, gym, softball field, soccer field and several event spaces. While the campus expands, the Palo Alto campus across the highway grants TAMU-SA students access to its amenities. There are also lots of resources that students have access to including several clubs and organizations, advisors, and offices on campus.

I currently serve as vice president of the Black Student Union, a group that organizes programming, support and community among Black students at TAMU-SA. We are still a fairly new organization, so we are still in the building stages, but we have collaborated with several other BSUs at UTSA and St. Mary’s University. We also host events frequently. My favorite has been the Field Day event, where everyone on campus could come and play games and participate in competitions. There were different stations, and the competition was definitely on. My highlight from that event was the water balloon fight at the end.

In addition to those duties, I am a resident assistant at the only dorm on campus, Esperanza Hall. In the dorms, there is a gym, a game room, a student success center and a study lounge. Along with the other RAs, I coordinate several events and programs covering topics like health and wellness, employability and community engagement.

Our campus hosts separate events as well. We’ve had midnight breakfast events for finals time, bouncy houses and food trucks giving out free food to students. There is just always something going on. We also have a few citywide events, such as Lights of Esperanza, in which several clothing, food, and jewelry vendors attend to sell their products. My favorite event is Festival de Cascarones during Fiesta, which is free and open to the public and features live music, food and games.

While education is my priority, I still make time for my mission to explore San Antonio beyond campus. TAMU-SA’s location can be a bit inconvenient, but my school offers transportation through a collaboration with VIA. This has made it easier to get around without a car.

Patrice Campbell studies in one of the common areas inside of Esperanza Hall, where she is also a Resident Assistant Tuesday.
Patrice Campbell studies in one of the common areas inside Esperanza Hall, where she is also a resident assistant. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

As I have come along through my college journey, I have many memories at some of my favorite spots like The Pearl, Bayseas Catfish House, the Alamo Quarry Market, Suck It the Restaurant, Birria Barrio and Viet Nam Restaurant. Closer to campus, I’ve enjoyed Pica Pica Plaza and Trader’s Village. Trying different cultural foods has definitely been a highlight of the past few years and something I would recommend to everyone.

Depending on what angle you look at it from, San Antonio can be seen as a military town, home of the Alamo, capital of Tex-Mex or just another city in Texas. But I can confidently say that living in San Antonio is going to be what you make of it. Changing my perspective changed my experience, and it can change yours, too.

Patrice Campbell

Patrice Campbell is a psychology student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, where she helps lead the Black Student Union.