by Jon-Al and Devra Duplantier—
Over the past four years, Trinity University provided our daughter with an outstanding academic education. No surprise there. What did surprise us was how proactive the school was about helping students grow personally. Trinity encouraged personal growth and created so many opportunities for Haile to reflect and refine her individual beliefs and values.

On Saturday, May 12, Trinity held commencement for 502 students marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another in each of their lives. We were there sitting in the upper deck with so many other proud parents – zoom lenses ready to go!

However, unlike our excited seated neighbors, we were less anxious about potentially missing the perfect shot of our daughter as she entered or exited the building or walked across the stage. The previous night, Trinity’s Black Student Union hosted its Class of 2018 Kente ceremony for 14 black graduating seniors, including our daughter, Haile. The ceremony took place on campus in the Parker Chapel, followed by a reception in the Murchison Tower courtyard. Notable faculty attendees included President Danny Anderson; David Tuttle, associate vice president for Student Life & Dean of Students; and Stacy Davidson, director for Academic Support. Family members and friends witnessed this intimate event and visited with faculty and one another afterward.

During the Kente ceremony, each graduating senior introduced another to the audience, highlighting the other’s accomplishments, activities, and favorite quote. The breadth of accomplishments, activities, and backgrounds was astonishing!
Duplantier family at Trinity University Kente ceremony
At the end of the introduction, the graduating senior invited one (or several) family members to don him or her with a “Class of 2018” Kente cloth stole to wear proudly at commencement the next day. This nice touch gave recognition to those who provided support along the way. Haile had 19 family members and friends in attendance, including five younger cousins who now think Trinity is cool!

If you have a high school junior or senior looking for a small liberal arts school with high academic standards, a beautiful campus and faculty members that genuinely encourage diversity and personal growth, then we recommend adding Trinity University to your shortlist.

About Jon-Al and Devra

Jon-Al and Devra Duplantier have been married 26 years and live in Houston, where he has been employed for 25 years in the oil industry. The career has given the Duplantier family opportunities to live abroad, including in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Haile '18 has been accepted into the University of Texas at Austin, where she will pursue a master's degree in education for college and university student personnel administration. Her older brother attended Rice and is a professional baseball player. Her younger brother is a senior at Texas State University in San Marcos.

By Yesenia Vargas—

The White House Chief of Staff recently made waves with his remark that undocumented immigrants were “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society.” He also said they were too rural, too uneducated, and too lazy to make it.

On Saturday, May 12, my brother walked across the stage at Trinity University to receive his degree in biology and proved him wrong.

Our parents came here from Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico. Yes, they came from a rural area, where most schooling ended at elementary school levels. Yes, they were undocumented. But they made it in this country and gave my siblings and me the chance to make it as well. Our mother has U.S. citizenship now, and our father has legal residency. All three of their children went to college. They have a home in a Louisiana suburb with room for my mother to grow her prize roses. They are living the American dream or something like it.

Cristian Vargas '18 with parents Simon and Hermila Vargas
I can’t describe what it meant for my family to see Trinity University acknowledge that with the school’s first-ever Latinx graduation ceremony, known as the De Colores ceremony. It put my parents in the spotlight and allowed them to realize that what our generation has achieved is only thanks to their generation’s sacrifices.

The ceremony reminded my siblings and me of our responsibility to hold the same door open for others. And it allowed us to be us, to show pride in our culture regardless of pressure to assimilate. Trinity is nearing its 150th year. It could be doubling down on tradition for the sake of tradition. But instead, the university is looking to the future and to opportunities for growth; first with the Kente Ceremony, and now with De Colores.

Cristian Vargas '18 celebrates with professor Juan Sepulveda
We can assimilate just fine, but that has never been the goal. This should not be a country that expects its people to fit a mold, but rather a country that accepts its people as they are and grows with them. Cristian is an American. He is a Latinx American. Neither detracts from the other. And Trinity has found a way to honor that.

About Yesenia

Yesenia Vargas, older sister of Cristian Vargas ’18, is a graduate of USC's master’s program in Public Diplomacy. She currently works at JCI Worldwide in Santa Monica, California, and Phoneme Media in Los Angeles. They have another sibling, Rubi Vargas, who attends Centenary College of Louisiana to major in art.

By Melissa McCracken '87—

When our two boys were babies, my husband and I found a security blanket in the wisdom of baby specialist T. Barry Brazelton and his Touchpoints books. He reminded us that each difficult and disruptive stage of childhood development was accompanied by a spurt of growth and independence in our young children. Anticipating these “Touchpoints” would make us more thoughtful parents and our children, more ready for the next episode in their young lives.

Hang on, new TU parents! A zinger of a Touchpoint is on your horizon!

So here are my memories of that great big Touchpoint during the last summer before our Tiger (Finlay, class of 2018!) went off to TU – and a bit of coping advice for you.

We live in Virginia, so we planned to fly Southwest to San Antonio (free baggage!) for move-in day, but when I was poised to purchase the tickets online, I realized that Finlay only needed a one-way ticket – while his dad and I would fly round trip. So as I clicked “Complete Your Purchase,” it really hit me that he was leaving, and it felt exceedingly final. He was literally flying the nest.

That summer, I took on the quartermaster role—assembling all the many items Finlay would require in his new life. If only the Apollo 13 astronauts had been so well-equipped, they wouldn’t have needed all that duct tape! Looking back, I was clearly “baby nesting” in reverse—instead of fresh-smelling onesies and bibs, it was matchy-matchy sheets and towels, TUMs, tennis balls, bookends, sunscreen, Clorox wipes, Allen wrenches, Post-its, two sizes of Command strips, Tupperware... it got pretty ridiculous.

So take it from me – your college student can figure out how to stick up posters. Resist the urge to load them up with stuff! The basics are all they really need, and fewer items in their dorm means less to keep clean, less to maintain, and less to store over the summer. Plus, there are stores in San Antonio, and asking for a ride is a great way to make a friend.

Trinity president Danny Anderson, Finlay McCracken '18, and Melissa McCracken '87
So instead of “reverse-nesting” a great pile a dorm furnishings they don’t need, take this time to pass on some key skills for their adult toolbox. Start with the laundry – turn over the job to them right now. After my husband taught Finlay to iron, he suddenly became very fond of no-iron shirts (wink); and once he got to TU, Finlay taught his roommate to do laundry.

There are many great “adulting” topics to stretch over the summer. Have some finance conversations—online shopping and banking, credit and debit cards, Tiger Bucks—all very useful. Don’t forget personal health. Do they know the difference between Tylenol and Advil? Self-care for a stomach bug? And try to have a couple of good conversations about the elements of healthy relationships—this might be your last chance to share this kind of wisdom.

Looking back four years, I know Finlay was ready for college, and Trinity had many good resources in place to help all students start strong. But just like when Finlay was little, his dad and I needed to do a bit of our own prep to get ready for this new stage. You can, too. Congratulations, new parents!

About Melissa

Melissa (Benjamin) McCracken ‘87 lives in Arlington, Va., with husband Todd ’88. Their son Finlay (class of ‘18) played sax in the Stand Band and studied history, economics, and French, and will be moving to France to teach English this fall. Meanwhile, younger brother Ben heads to Rhodes College in August. Melissa foresees more big Touchpoints on the horizon.

by Susie P. Gonzalez —

Nico Champion ’19 is an RA with a mom who loves to decorate his Trinity University residence hall. Last Halloween, she sent a package stuffed with spooky-themed wall adornments, and of course candy and popcorn for him, along with plenty of smaller items he could give to his hall mates.

Same thing at Christmas. Another time, with no holiday on the calendar, Champion’s mom mailed his favorite treats and included an entire box of peanut M&Ms and small bags of popcorn to share. “Obviously, the theme here is largely food – perfect for a college student at any stage,” says Champion, a human communication and theater major from the Austin area.

Champion says he doesn’t get what many consider to be a traditional “care package” but says his mom periodically mails postcards and other “thoughtful gifts.” He adds, “It is great because I know my parents are thinking about me.”

Other Trinity students say they appreciate food and money from home, and Jocelyn Suarez adds, “My prized possession is a sweatshirt from my hometown.”

When asked what their Trinity students want in a care package, parents said:

  • Gift cards to Chipotle, Whataburger, HEB, Sonic, Uber, Uber Eats, Jimmy John’s, Torchy’s Tacos, Target, Amazon, Walgreens, Starbucks, gas stations, or just about anywhere! 
  • Snack foods, healthy or allergy-free snacks, almonds, fresh fruit, beef jerky, Cheez-Its, or anything chocolate. One mom really goes all out by sending brie and French bread. (I want to be her kid.) 
  • Seasonal decorations (Nico’s mom was on it!) 
  • Fun games 
  • Facial masks and nail polish  
  • Art supplies 
  • Slipper socks or underwear (Who doesn’t appreciate a new, clean set of undies?) 
  • Clothes 
  • Book or magazine of interest to the student 
Could this dad be delivering a care package in person?
One mom invested in Universal Yums! and said it was well received. This service delivers snacks from a different country each month and seems to be perfect for any globally-focused Trinity student.

Homemade goodies seem to be low on the care package wish list. One mom confessed to being a “crummy” baker but said her student might welcome her aunt’s homemade cookies. Another mom said she lives too far away to risk scratch-baked sweets arriving intact. But Cathy Kanaday stepped in and suggested homemade brownies are the way to go.

Leslie Miles Wan reminded parents that it isn’t always about “the stuff.” She recalls writing poems to her daughter explaining what motherhood meant to her. “My daughter says she really cherished the poems,” Wan says. “When homesickness set in, it was such a special treat for her to know we were still connected in the same way and not just in a commercial way with things.”

Agreeing was Molly Collie, who said family photos and cards and notes were loved, and Linda Marks Jozefiak, who said her student hangs “missing you” and inspirational cards on her wall.

Parents can always order from alumni who have started San Antonio businesses and deliver to campus, including Annie’s Petite Treats and Cookie Cab.

Thanks to Kanady, Wan, Collie, and Jozefiak, along with Cynthia Cooke, Debbie Gatchel, Laura McGee, Drew Rak, Patty Bachman Nebhut, Danielle Hilliard Henkes, Savita Raj, Sharon Marchant, Lori Simpson Humphreys, Velma Garza Anderson, Sharon Buell, Jill Laskowski, Melissa Fouse Kummerer, David Oliver, and Amanda Needham Lutz for the uplifting and thoughtful suggestions to remind college students that someone cares enough to put their “love” in a package. Thanks also to my colleague Molly Mohr Bruni for reaching out to Trinity students for what they’d like to receive.

About Susie

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity, can be reached at or on Twitter @susiegonz. She welcomes blog post ideas from parents.

Trinity University women's basketball player Kate Irvin

by Molly Collie—

The last 17 years as an athlete’s parent have been spent on the sidelines of sporting events, basketball, softball, tennis, track and field, and golf. I bet many parents can relate, nodding and smiling at the memories they have from over the years too. The road of practices, camps, tournaments, and games ultimately led my daughter Kate Irvin to playing basketball at Trinity University. I met her late father when we were freshmen in college and he was starting his own NCAA basketball journey. I had no idea then how it would prepare me for being a Trinity Tiger mom.

Having played basketball consistently since she was 5 years old, my daughter was well aware of the time commitment involved. One of the reasons she chose Trinity was the commitment to the academic part of being a student-athlete, especially with basketball spanning fall and spring semesters. As a first-year, the support from coaches and professors went a long way in preparing her to meet the challenge of academics and play the sport she loves.

To get to play any sport in college is an honor, privilege, and a goal achievement. As a parent, I have seen her grow in many ways through balancing grades and athletics. There have been the highs of winning seasons with Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championships, the bonds of teammates and the lows of losing and injuries disrupting a promising season effort.

Family of Trinity University women's basketball player Kate Irvin
Trinity women's basketball player Kate Irvin with stepdad Joe Postnikoff, mom Molly Collie, and twin brother Garrett. 
Through it all my challenge has been that of parents everywhere supporting our athletes, to be their encouragers and cheerleaders even when our hearts are hurting for them. And of course to be there with the hugs and high fives for the big moments. I will never forget my daughter’s career-high scoring game of 24 points this February in her senior season at Trinity. I have to admit when she came on her recruiting visit and we were told the conference season games were played usually on Friday and Saturday nights, either a weekend at home or away, I was pro Trinity! In the past four years, it has been wonderful to make almost all home games and attend many away due to a schedule that played in the favor of working parents. Thanks, SCAC!

I have met many Tiger athletes in the past four years. There has been a common thread of Tiger pride, exceptional young adults who represent their school and sports well. I continue to be impressed with the high level of success Trinity student athletes and teams achieve and so proud my daughter was able to be a part of winning traditions.

My time as a Tiger athlete mom officially ends with graduation next month, as well as all these years of supporting Kate playing sports. When basketball season rolls around this Fall I am not sure what I will do with that free time! I will miss the basketball game experience but I will always be a proud Trinity athlete parent.

About Molly

Molly Collie’s daughter Kate Irvin is expected to graduate from Trinity University in May with a degree in communication and a minor in sports management. Kate’s twin brother Garrett will also graduate in May from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow Molly on TxTravelGirl, a blog she writes from her Airstream in the middle of Austin.

Trinity University freshman Landry Rohde

By Rodney E. Rohde—

What is a mentor? Are there ways to establish a true mentor-mentee relationship? One can go to the research literature on this topic to define and answer these questions, and that was exactly my plan for writing an article three years ago about mentoring for my professional organization, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory.

As I started, I realized, “Why don’t I just tell my story instead?” Mentoring has always been about the relationships I build with people – my students, my family, colleagues, and friends. I think becoming a father AND a professor has allowed mentoring to become more purposeful and directed in my life.

When I ask current students, alumni, or colleagues and friends what makes me an effective mentor, the usual dominant themes are 1) a natural ability at building relationships, 2) an ability to listen and remember important things about an individual and, 3) modeling the behavior I am working to achieve in the mentee. Each of these traits, I believe, are what make any one of us an effective mentor and in many ways, a true friend, an effective leader, or a loyal team member.

The first trait – building a relationship – is one of those things that seem simple to me. To me, in a true mentoring relationship the mentor should work to understand a person beyond just a superficial interaction. For instance, I have learned during my academic life that so many of my students come from a rich and diverse cultural background. I think I gain as much from them in building a relationship because each time I learn something about a culture it makes me an even more effective mentor for subsequent relationships. Likewise, I hope the mentee takes a true interest in learning about me – my professional goals, my family, my educational path and my hobbies. Like a friendship or parenting, this trait must be nurtured consistently and over time. At Trinity, mentoring often takes shape through academic advising, including the new program, Starting Strong.

Rohde Family, including Trinity University first year Landry
The Rohde family, from left, Haley, Rodney, Bonnie, and Landry.
The second trait – listening and remembering – was not one of my strengths upon entering academia or fatherhood. My wife and her family who are early childhood educators with over 40 years of experience helped me to see the powerful value in this characteristic. The coursework during my PhD., which I did during my time as an assistant and associate professor, added to this understanding. Now, I work on this trait (and still struggle) in every relationship I build, including with my children. I don’t always agree but I try to “listen” and understand their point of view. In doing this, I also work at remembering important and passionate points with my students and others. For instance, when I notice a particular student in a class that shows up at a student event, or one who steps up to be a leader when others do not, or one who takes the time to help a struggling underclassmen feel welcome in our program, I commit that to memory or keep it in a journal. Then, when it’s time for that letter of recommendation for a scholarship, graduate school application, or job reference I am able to write powerful letters that often surprise those very students that I noticed and remembered these things. It’s the most wonderful gift TO ME when I see them realize that I made that effort to listen, observe, and remember.

The third trait – modeling behavior – is a combination of things I try to do with direction and purpose. I grew up in a household in which my parents never allowed us as children to quit. Hard work (physical and mental) was the house rule! My dad used to tell me “Rodney, trust in God, always finish what you started, pay your bills, honor your family/friends, and help those who need it. “ And, “work never killed anyone so outwork everyone.” It’s from those roots that I have evolved over my career. I’ve never considered myself super smart, but I will outwork you. It’s in that vein that I try to emulate goal setting and achievement for my students, children, and others.

I set the bar high and I’ve yet to see where outworking others has failed. I work hard, and with a passion and purpose, to show my students (and others) opportunities that they can achieve with hard work. And, usually, with hard work, once a student sees how to go about doing it, their goals and achievements soar. I want our students to set the example of “doing it the right way” through hard work. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing someone who thought they couldn’t get there or achieve a goal, then to get there and succeed. I am also a huge believer in using encouragement to build a positive environment, including the use of quotes/mottos to build a mentality and brand in our program. My students get used to hearing and seeing these things daily.

In closing, we all need to consistently work to surround ourselves with mentors – those who challenge us (even when we may not believe in ourselves), those who will be our cheerleaders, and those who will listen and encourage us on our journey. It may not be just one person; mentors can change during your life. But, the important thing is to seek out those who will assist you in your life. Be alert for leaders, teachers, parents, clergy, colleagues, and friends that can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for mentoring help either – it’s never too late.

About Rodney

Rodney E. Rohde, Ph.D., is chair and professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at Texas State University and associate dean for research in the College of Health Professions. He is also a TEDx Speaker and Global Fellow of the Global Citizenship Alliance. His son Landry is a first-year student at Trinity.
Trinity U dad Paul Kinscherff with student Grant
Trinity University student Grant Kinscherff with his dad, Paul Kinscherff
By Paul Kinscherff—

When high school students conduct their college search, they (should!) do lots of research. Similarly, when they are looking for a summer or post-graduation job, they need to do lots of research for a different purpose. Let’s call it homework for a job.

There are a quite a few of areas to research when job-hunting, but the most important is networking. People, not apps, still make hiring decisions. So, as parents of students at Trinity University, let’s help them with their homework by offering some advice to master the art of networking.

The best time to network is BEFORE you start looking for a job. Most people are willing to have a mentoring conversation or “informational interview” with students about where they work and what they do. It’s much easier to get in the door outside of the formal job posting and interview process. This helps the pre-screening process on both sides…everyone benefits without the backdrop and stress of an actual hiring process.

Whether pursuing an informational interview or entering a hiring process, if students don’t already know the person or work setting, the first homework task is to learn about the person they will meet with, the business and their role in it. Doing advance research will help with the interview, once landed, because it shows the student is proactive, interested and respectful of the interview or learning opportunity. The student/job applicant should demonstrate knowledge about the company beyond “just getting a job” and come prepared with thoughtful questions. This evidence of maturity is important.

Here’s a side note: most big companies usually have well-established procedures for hiring. For an entry-level position, most jobs are usually out of a senior executive’s control as they are too far removed from the hiring decision. Students should know this and be ready to look online or work through Trinity’s Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success.

So where should students start? After visiting the Career Success office, consult parents of friends, Trinity professors, and alumni for job leads.

Do your homework:
  • Have a contact list. What are you trying to achieve and what people (not just one person) are you planning to contact?
  • For each contact, have a plan.
  • Have a clear, prioritized agenda.
  • Have your key questions prepared, in order.
  • Make sure your questions reflect preparation.
  • Know how much time you need and graciously accept what you get.
Also, do your homework on the company’s hiring processes and cycle. Some firms hire early in the fall for the following summer. Internships are often the best path into a company. If you want to be in a specific place, whether in the U.S. or overseas, be focused on that place and its opportunities.

Trinity University Career Fair
Trinity University holds a Career Fair every spring semester.
If the student initiates the interview, make it easy on the job contact – propose several days or times to speak. Offer to meet in person or to call by phone. If the student is reaching out to a busy executive, remember to be patient. These are busy people.

Part of the homework involves asking that mutual contact (parent, professor, etc.) to call or email the interviewer in advance so that the meeting is not what most people consider a 100% cold call. During the interview, students must be clear how they know the mutual contact. Some interviews are more like backgrounders, but a resume always helps to describe the student and the student’s strengths.

Now we come to the all-important interview. If in person, overdress. Show respect for the interviewer but know the company culture. If by phone, be ready. Lead the conversation until the interviewer takes over. Be sure to listen. If at a company orientation, get the executive’s business card, but it’s way better to get the human resource rep’s card.

Always follow up with a well-written thank you note. Parents, here is where you can help with structuring and editing that note if your student is not an experienced note-writer.

About Paul

Paul Kinscherff shared these words earlier this year with parents of Austin students. His son, Grant, is a first-year student at Trinity and hopes to pursue a career in education.