by Kay Hazelwood –

Editor's note: In December 2016, we featured a story about a Trinity mom who donated to a school the desk left behind when her daughter arrived at Trinity. Here is another family's story about what happens to a college student's room when parents become empty nesters. 

The last Hazelwood left for college in January 2014, and Tom and I found ourselves empty nesters. The transition, as each child departed, changed and was as varied as their personalities. With Aly, Maddy, and Audrey, their rooms, though, did not undergo many significant changes when they left for school other than the usual removal of odds and ends: unmatched socks, unwanted jeans, clothes they had outgrown.

Marion, on the other hand was an entirely different story.

Marion decided to leave for college a semester early, so her departure coincided with the departure of her older sister Audrey's return to Trinity in January. Before Marion left, I had one requirement, Copper, the rabbit that had occupied her room incognito since its arrival in September, had to be spayed so it could go live with Marion’s best friend, who also had a rabbit. The spaying went off without a hitch, but when it was time to have Copper’s stitches removed, that was another story altogether.

The Hazelwood family includes mom, Kay, center, Trinity class of '82, with daughters who played volleyball at Trinity: Audrey '15, Maddie '13, and Aly '09, and daughter Marion, a volleyball player at Oklahoma.

Since Marion had to be at school a few days before the other students, she enlisted Audrey to take Copper to the vet. Simple enough, right? Copper had other plans. The pet did not want to go and ran under the bed...and we all know how fast rabbits can move. After 45 minutes of hopelessly chasing the rabbit who did not want to be caught, Audrey called me in tears. I suggested she take the mattress and box springs off the bed to make easier access and remove the hiding place. She did and propped them against the wall.

With Marion’s bed tossed, Copper now chose to hide behind the dressers. Too heavy to move, Audrey called again. This time, I suggested enlisting the pet whisperer. Enter Tom, who until I called him had no idea a rabbit had been living upstairs for four months. Here is how our conversation went:

Me: Honey, I need you to go upstairs and help Audrey get Marion’s rabbit into the crate and take it to Dr. Abshier.
Tom: Audrey is already gone. She left an hour ago. . . . . what rabbit?
Me: Marion’s rabbit. Marion got a rabbit in September. Audrey is upstairs trying to catch it because it needs its stitches out. I need you to help her catch it and take to Dr. Abshier.
Tom: D*********, Kay!
Me: It needs to go to the vet, and I need you to catch it. And that wasn’t the plumbing making those weird thumping sounds
Tom: Anything else up there?
Me: Nope, just a rabbit
Tom did catch Copper in his typical whisperer style. He called her name, and she hopped right over to him. Tom, by the way, has whispered a parakeet from our back porch and onto his shoulder, a cockatiel out of a tree, and a duck, Wilson, into its crate.

Since Copper had free rein of Marion’s room, her departure led to a complete makeover. No more nibbled baseboards and shredded carpet; and no more familiar room to return home to. Marion's room is now a beautiful nursery for daughter Aly and her husband Michael’s son, Spencer.

About Kay

Kay Hazelwood sent three daughters to Trinity, and they all played volleyball. The only daughter who didn’t come to Trinity to play volleyball grew up coming to campus to see her older sisters play.

by Leslie Wan—

As I walked into a bedroom in my home recently I stopped in the doorway and reflected on something that was nostalgic but very sweet. I reflected on the fact that my daughter's bedroom, was no longer "her" bedroom, and how that had come to pass. In any transition of parenthood, the time comes when you decide that your children are on their way, and that the room that used to be theirs can serve another purpose. It is a rite of passage and a recognition that they will spend their time now in another place, or planted on a college campus miles away from where they started. A page has turned and it is your decision to make that room, now empty, become something else more useful to YOUR life.

The transition of my daughter’s room, from her room, to "just any bedroom," was a gradual process. For me, her room was a refuge and a reality check. You see, she is our only child, and we live another country away. When she left for college, we knew she would never return permanently to live in her/our island home. We had known THAT from her earliest days. Whenever the reality overcame me that she and I would be separated by an ocean for years and years to come, I would wander into her bedroom among the treasures of her youth and read in her rocking chair. That chair had nurtured her when she was young, and as she grew, became the place where so many of her friends would laugh and chat, as she prepared to leave for college again or go out for an evening. So there it was, when the room changed, I had to acknowledge that the future we had planned for her was NOW, and home, this bedroom which was an ocean away from her, would really never be full of her spirit again. (Another waving goodbye.) That room and that rocking chair gave me peace, a place to read, and to remember that missing her was not about holding on to those youthful days, but about the affirmation that we and she had met the first goal, achieved the first hurdle. All was as it was supposed to be, despite the hole in my heart and the ocean of tears that fell.

Desk of former Trinity student before being donated
Desk once used by a Trinity student was donated to a school for special needs children.

One day a treadmill became a fixture in there, and her tired little desk that had seen many a homework session was sent to a school where we volunteered together, and I still do. Today, it serves as a desk for special needs children so they feel like they are part of a mainstream student classroom experience. It gives me great satisfaction to see those special children working with a teacher on the desk that once had my sweet little girl behind it, books splayed out, doing what she needed to do to transition to Trinity. That little desk is tired now and wheelchair scarred, but it reminds me that we did it, that life blooms again, and that where she sat, continues to nurture children. The bedroom that was, is now the bedroom that is different. It is more about the goal that was achieved and the life plan that came to pass. Oh, and that rocking chair? It still remains, and it still gives me peace.

I suppose I reflected on this as I stood in that doorway recently. As Christmas approaches, so does the season of giving and the return of my daughter home for a few days. I remembered the decision that when that room transition took place, the desk that had served on her road to Trinity, MUST be a gift given to other children so they too, could try and make their dreams happen. Even though she is gone, I still see children circling that desk and KNOW that the room transition didn't have to be about the past, but about futures in the making.

My advice is to make the changes in your home and the transitions of your children’s youth become celebrations of the future because the past may have worked just as planned.

About Leslie

Leslie's daughter graduated from Trinity in 2010, but the mom remains a true ambassador for the University.  Her daughter Christina now works as a university student administration professional, and Leslie continues to pursue special needs work and her passion for personal/professional writing and public speaking. She writes a blog (, and speaks and volunteers in support of the special needs community in Jamaica.

Trinity University students touch the tiger

by Darin Mackender –

At this time four years ago, one wall of our home office was covered with notes, graphs, and spreadsheets reflecting the college search of our daughter, current senior Allyson Mackender. She had examined every angle: majors and minors; extracurricular activities; cost of attendance; financial aid; rankings; size; average class sizes; location; and, of course, the likelihood of admission, i.e., selectivity. There were seemingly unending conversations about “reach” schools and “safety” schools, and sleepless nights trying to make sense of it all.

By the holidays, Ally had settled on a school in the Chicago area. The decision seemed final. Nonetheless, in February, she asked if we could visit Trinity. With time short, we scheduled a trip for the following week. After a full day on campus, as we took one last quick walk around campus, Ally told her mom and me that she had changed her mind and wanted to attend Trinity. She said it just felt right. Although I too had been very impressed with the visit, I told her to sleep on it. Later that evening, as we waited to board our plane, Ally continued to ask for my opinion. Finally, I said, “I am not the one going to school. It’s your opinion that matters. But, since you asked, I think Trinity would be a great choice—top-notch academics, genuine people, vibrant campus, interesting location. I don’t think you would ever regret the choice. Like I said, sleep on it.” She did and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Mackender Family -- dad Darin, Ally, and mom Jennifer
Now, as Ally registers for classes for her final semester, I can’t help but reflect on her choice. Undoubtedly, it was the right choice, but why? A few things stand out. First, and foremost, Ally has benefited greatly from the high level of engagement between faculty and students. Like most its peers, Trinity has small class sizes taught by faculty with terminal degrees in their disciplines. But the faculty also seems to be deeply invested in the success of their students. For example, in the first month of her first semester, Ally went to talk with one of her HUMA professors about a paper. She ended up having a long conversation with that professor about her interests and her goals at Trinity and beyond. That conversation had a profound impact on Ally and was the first step towards her declaring an English major. Since then, she has had many similar conversations with that professor and others. That level of engagement is not easily measurable, but is invaluable.

Second, Ally has reaped tremendous rewards from Trinity’s global perspective. Ally studied in Denmark during the fall semester of her junior year. Her semester abroad, which was arranged by Trinity, was life changing. It expanded her horizons, and she returned more confident, more mature, and more worldly. I previously wrote about it here. Finally, Ally has grown immeasurably as a result of Trinity and San Antonio’s richly diverse communities. She has been exposed to different political, social, and cultural perspectives, and has been forced to examine and re-examine her own beliefs and values.

The Mackender Family -- dad Darin, Ally, and mom Jennifer

I recently read that the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked Trinity #1 in Texas and #6 in the nation for outstanding faculty. It is an interesting ranking, focusing more on what students get out of a university than how hard it is to get in to that university. Trinity’s high rankings are well-deserved. As a parent (and a significant financial supporter of Ally’s education), I am deeply appreciative of Trinity, its faculty and administration. Ally graduates in six months. I know she will be leaving school well prepared, academically and personally, for the next stage of her life. Honestly, I have no recollection of Trinity’s so-called “selectivity.” I will never forget, however, what it has done for my daughter.

About Darin

Darin Mackender received his undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and his law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law. He is an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Denver. His daughter, Allyson, is a senior at Trinity University.

A Trinity University parent visits with professors

by Joe Knippenberg —

We parents worry about our kids in college. Are they getting enough sleep? Are they eating right? Are they engaging in risky behaviors? Are they studying hard enough to pass their difficult classes? And so on and so on and so on. We send them away, but we don’t stop being parents. My parents—now in their 80s (I’ve been out of the house for a long time)—haven’t stopped being parents.

When I was student back in the dark ages—er, I mean the ‘70s—I could pretty easily keep my parents at arm’s length. The occasional prohibitively expensive long distance phone call was about it. I always told them everything was fine and please send me some money. What happened in East Lansing (yes, I was, and am, a Spartan) stayed in East Lansing. To be sure, we had conversations about what I was going to do when I graduated, but they hadn’t gone to college themselves, they weren’t paying much for my education, and at that time college graduates were still for the most part rewarded relatively handsomely in the job market. When I told them I knew what I was doing—well, sort of—they trusted me.

My, how times have changed, as this very interesting article points out. Parents are in constant contact with their kids—texting, Facebooking, Facetiming, and, yes, making or receiving the occasional old-fashioned phone call. Many more parents are college graduates and have a much more vivid sense of what college is like. (Kids, take heed: we probably won’t believe you if you tell us you’re studying in the library on Friday night.) And, by golly, college has gotten pretty darn expensive!

One of the consequences of this is that parents are or at least can be much more intimately involved in their students’ live than was the case way back when. I see evidence of this all the time on the Trinity University Parents Facebook page, and in our own lives, with a son at Trinity and a freshman daughter at a small university in North Carolina. Our empty nest doesn’t feel quite so empty.

Trinity University classroom
Students shouldn't be pressured to make educational choices their parents want.
But pedagogically and developmentally there may be a downside. Presuming that we know a lot about what’s going on both on campus and in the real world, we may be tempted to interfere a bit more—maybe even a lot more—in the educational choices our students make. Wanting them to be happy, thinking that a good job (often defined in terms of salary and prestige) is the ticket to that happiness, and believing that we know what majors lead to those good jobs, we may be tempted to press our views very hard, not just when we’re sitting down to dinner over winter break, but all the time, in ways that are harder to ignore or deflect. Students may feel pressure to make the educational choices their parents want, not the ones they want.

What’s the problem, you might ask. We love our kids and want them to be happy, and we’re intimately acquainted with what it takes to succeed in the real world. Far be it from me to challenge the first two claims, but I would like to raise a few questions about the third, or at least about the connection between what our students are doing in college and what they’ll be doing after they graduate. Don’t you think, for example, that smart, motivated students who are asked by their professors to stretch intellectually and get out of their comfort zones will be prepared to face the learning challenges that are posed by every workplace? Do you really think that the narrow substantive skills they might learn in a class in 2016 will be the ones that they’ll be called on to use in 2026 or 2036? Are you confident that the job you want them to prepare for in their four years (well, we hope it’s only four years) at Trinity will be the job they have ten years after graduation?

I could go on at great length about this, but, for the sake of brevity, will encourage you only to read the aforementioned article.

Trinity University parents with LeeRoy tiger mascot
Trinity parents love posing with LeeRoy, the University's tiger mascot.
I’ll only add this: in my experience: students who are interested in what they’re studying work harder, do better academically, and, indeed, are happier. They’re motivated to find a way to turn what they love into their life’s work. Having learned how to learn (and loving it), they are precisely the kinds of flexible, entrepreneurial employees that many employers say that they’re looking for and having a hard time finding. So encourage your students to find a subject they love and devote themselves to it. Do ask them how they think they can continue to pursue this love after graduation. Encourage them to visit the folks in the Office of Career Services, to look for an internship or two, and maybe even to take a “practical” class or two so that at the entry level they aren’t befuddled by what they’re asked to do.

They’ll be happy. And if they’re happy, we’re happy, right?

About Joe

Joe Knippenberg is a professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, where he has taught since 1985. His son, Liam, is a junior at Trinity, majoring (shockingly) in political science, though he has absolutely no intention of following any further in his dad’s footsteps. Father and son chat frequently, mostly about politics. Recently dad has been working his personal network (friends and former students) to find people in the “real world” with whom Liam can speak about career opportunities. And Liam, with dad’s blessing, is applying for internships this summer. Joe’s wife Lee also teaches at Oglethorpe, in the Core Curriculum and the theatre program, and directs the drama ministry at Oak Grove U.M.C. Their daughter, Charlotte, is a freshman at Wingate University in North Carolina, where she is on the swim team and contemplating a psychology major. You can find some of Joe’s essays at,, and

Guerrero family at Trinity University

by Manny and Denise Guerrero —

Trinity University has empowered our two son’s with a plethora of tools – academic rigor is among them – to turn them into successful students, individuals, athletes and if the desire is there, also into entrepreneurs and innovators.

Our oldest son Austin Guerrero, is a junior at Trinity and will be in the class of 2018. While looking for colleges online, he stumbled upon the now 25-year holder of the title, from U.S. News & World Reports as “Best in the west school” called Trinity University. We visited Trinity along with others schools and I recall Austin mentioning that there was an entrepreneurship program available for those who were up for the challenge at Trinity. Austin was more than excited because he knows our family is full of “Shark Tank” junkies. I could sense the anticipation and excitement when Austin was accepted to attend Trinity and into the Entrepreneurship program, plus Trinity awarded Austin a scholarship to help with tuition. We had a very grateful and happy young man!

Austin presents his work in Trinity's Entrepreneurship Program

Austin was always a hard working kid who loved to learn, play sports, interact with family, friends, and practically anyone who was willing to listen to him talk. Austin’s strong points are leadership, commitment, and humility. Austin learned music through piano and played chess by competing at state and in national tournaments. He loved to play sports and follow college and professional sports teams of all styles, I thought for sure we had an ESPN commentator amongst us.

Austin is majoring in mathematical finance. He participated in the development and presenting of a phone app along with his partner to local business professionals while in the Entrepreneur program. The knowledge he gained by real world experience is lifelong and my personal thanks and appreciation go to Luis Martinez, director of the Entrepreneur program, who instilled priceless lessons gained from those pitches. Austin is now currently a captain on the track and field team as a javelin thrower, Resident Life mentor for first-year students, vice president of Data Analytics for The Financial Initiative, Trinity Distinguished representative for the Admissions office, and also is a member of Greek Life on campus in the social fraternity, Omega Phi, as well as a business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.

Guerrero sons at Trinity University
Trinity University students Brian and Austin Guerrero.
Our youngest son, Brian Guerrero, is a first-year at Trinity University in the class of 2020. He will be an engineering major. Brian did very well in high school, learned music at an early age with piano, played chess, loved club basketball, plays golf, and loves to play court and sand volleyball. Brian also has a great relationship with friends and family and makes conversation with almost anybody. Brian decided quickly that he was going to attend Trinity University after visiting the campus on several occasions. Brian was also awarded a scholarship for academics and a grant for his science and technology major to help with tuition. Brian is in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. As parents, we can honestly say that Brian has found his little slice of heaven on earth. Brian has found a groove on campus as well and he has already joined an engineering society. He has only been on campus since August and we know he is still finding other ways to get involved and stay busy. We know he will make an impact on campus much like his brother and oh, and his roommate has already been a hit too!

We are very pleased to be Trinity parents!

Guerrero family with LeeRoy tiger mascot
The Guerrero family enjoys a moment with LeeRoy the Trinity  mascot.

About Manny and Denise

Manny and Denise Guerrero are natives of and live in Tucson, Arizona, where they raised two inquisitive sons who now attend Trinity University. Manny served in the U.S Army and currently is a police officer. Denise is employed by the University of Arizona’s Health Science Center. Manny is into a combination of P90X plus-cross fit-cardio workouts and Denise loves her work-out DVD’s. They adore Face Time with Austin and Brian and look forward to visiting the great city of San Antonio. Manny and Denise feel like they are on a permanent vacation as they undergo the transformation to empty nesters. They love to brag about Trinity University and the substantive faculty, staff, and most important STUDENTS who have made the wise choice to attend. Woo hoo! Go Tigers!

by  Aliza Holzman-Cantu —

Behind many successful Trinity students stands a proud parent. That parent is someone who has seen his or her child grow from infancy to those teen-age years that give some of us gray hair! Although I know it's tough to let go, sometimes the best parenting advice is to give your child "roots and wings."

I am certain our Trinity parents have done an exceptional job giving their student "roots" – roots in manners, in studying, in patience, and possibly even in sports competitions or other extracurricular events. Now it's time to trust those "wings" – to let your child fly into adulthood.

Along the way, you will not stop being a parent and you will probably follow information from Trinity and learn about our community. That's why I'm inviting you to become part of the Trinity University Parent Council, a group of parents who are ambassadors and investors in the University. Our Council serves as an advisory and advocacy group, helping to foster a sense of community among parents of students and alumni while supporting the unique

Trinity experience that inspires and empowers students to become successful.

Parents meet with faculty during Fall Family Weekend.

The Parent Council board and I are excited to be actively building and forming this organization, so there's no better time than the present to join us. Member responsibilities include: serving on a committee or committees, supporting the University by participating in special projects and sharing personal expertise and skills, representing the Council by attending events and connecting with other parents in an effort to encourage camaraderie, annually supporting the Parents Fund at a level of their choosing, and attending meetings as they are able (meetings are held during Fall Family Weekend and Spring Family Weekend).

The committees on our Council are varied and we hope you find one or more that you will join. To get involved with our council please follow this link: Join Our Parent Council. Please note that our newest committee, Diversity and Inclusion, may not yet be listed on the questionnaire. We are excited about the creation of this group that will advise the Parent Council and parent programs staff on issues related to diversity and campus climate to ensure that all members of our community are included in our efforts. To join this committee, simply select the final bubble in the survey: "Contact me for other participation opportunities." Let us know about your interests and we will be in contact with you shortly.

Please join us for our first Parent Council gathering of the year at our Insider's Luncheon on Friday, Sept. 30 at noon in the Fiesta Room. We are so pleased that Dr. Deneese Jones, vice president for Academic Affairs, will be our keynote speaker addressing the experiences, outcomes, and opportunities for students during their academic matriculation. Let us know you are coming by responding to me via email:

I look forward to seeing you during Fall Family Weekend!

About Aliza

Aliza Holzman-Cantu is director of Parent Giving and Engagement and truly loves getting to know Trinity parents. She received both her bachelor's degree in communication and Master of Arts in Teaching from Trinity and is grateful for the opportunities both of those degrees have afforded her. She lives in San Antonio with her husband Willie (a Texas Ex) and her two daughters, Sophie (12th grade) and Iliana (9th grade). Aliza is thrilled to be working at Trinity – “It feels like coming home.”
Trinity University student Lauren Pettinati and her mom

by Karie Pettinati--

Editor's note: Last week, the mother of a Trinity University sophomore wrote about her daughter's experience taking over the University's Twitter account. You can read her account here. This week, we are sharing the view from the mother of that student's roommate, who says she now has two daughters, by virtue of the "binding roommate contract," and is thrilled they are at Trinity. 

Finding the right roommate is an important part of the college experience. My daughter Lauren, a sophomore at Trinity University, couldn’t be more different from her roommate, Hannah, aka my newly adopted daughter by virtue of the “binding roommate contract.” Their differences are evident in their Twitter posts. One is a vegetarian and one doesn’t like breakfast tacos.

I really think the only thing they have in common is their love of baby animals. What is great about their friendship and this school for putting kids like this together is their kindness and respect for each other. They tease each other about everything, but the ribbing is taken with a grain of salt and a good sense of humor.

I love the fact that they can talk to each other bluntly, openly and honestly about their different beliefs on politics, religion, or who the greatest golfer is, and not be offended by their disagreement. Maybe it’s from kindness and consideration or a level of intelligence that makes someone open to listen as well as be heard. Maybe it’s just something in the water? I’m not sure, but I know it’s not just something these two possess.

On the subject of kindness and consideration, I recently had the pleasure of supporting my daughter and her Tiger Golfer teammates on the greens in beautiful Seguin. Afterward, Lauren and I grabbed a bite to eat and coincidentally met a Trinity football playing grad from the class of ’77! He agreed the campus is great and told us stories of how the football field has improved immensely. Props to the greens keepers…. wait, no that’s golf….props to the guys that spray on the lines. That can’t be an easy job! Anyway, our class of ’77 friend, like most every other TU student, faculty and staff from admissions to security and janitorial impressed me, of course, with his kindness and consideration.
Trinity University golfer Lauren Pettinati
Trinity University sophomore Lauren Pettinati is a member of the Tiger Women's Golf Team.
So when Lauren told me the University asked her and Hannah to take over the Trinity Twitter account, I asked, “Why you two?” My initial reaction was: “Why would they do that?” and “What are you doing?” I didn’t understand. It was confusing, and I thought I should say, “Congratulations…..right?”

After a little enlightening, I learned a little more about Twitter and stopped questioning the decision makers who chose Lauren and Hannah for the Twitter Takeover. There are so many kids on this campus that represent skill in bringing people together instead of pulling them apart and in listening and learning instead of judging and condemning. I guess I’m just proud that they live this way, proud that they go to a school that encourages this behavior. The world could use a little more of that.

Actually, I’m really proud – proud of the girls and proud of this school.

In closing:

1. No, those are not puppy noises coming from the dorm room.

2. I can’t wait to see who you talk into doing this next.

3. Go Tigers!