Trinity University families gather for summer sendoff

By Tim Moore—

As soon as students enter Trinity University, they need to begin building their business network. From scratch. From Day One. As I have shared with other Trinity parents, we should take a moment to reflect on what it took to build our own networks, namely perseverance and patience.

As parents, our desires for our children are that they become productive and happy citizens. At times, happy is good enough, but guidance is still necessary. The college years may become a time when they will realize we actually know something after years of not knowing anything at all. Our other desire as parents is that our children stay in our lives.

What advice can we give our students for building a network? More important, who are they listening to?

1. Are they listening to us, their parents? I say this with some skepticism because we want them to make their own decisions, don’t we? We should give them room to explore, but we should be really good listeners. And we should provide access to our networks to support their actions, if possible.

2. Are they listening to their peers? Who has their attention – their friends, their roommate, or their suite mates?

3. Are they listening to their professors? Trinity does this so well in teaching students how to interact with adults.

4. Are they listening to the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success? This is the hidden gem of Trinity. Tell your student to focus their efforts with this office to learn what is available.

5. Your network – your friends, colleagues, business associates, and others. Can they help? Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. And my advice is to provide pathways for them to listen to others.

Tim Moore is dad of this Trinity University family
The Moore Family, from left, Andrew, Sandra, Christina, and Tim 
Parents can emphasize internships that are focused, including those that are part of the curriculum. Encourage your student to look as soon as possible for internships for the summer. If you can, lean in on your networks. Ask other Trinity parents who might have some ideas and connections.

To underscore something important, have your student go to Career Services as soon as possible in their Trinity career, preferably as a first-year student. Make it a must. Find a way to get your child into their office, including “positive” peer pressure, encouragement, or use your parent powers and just add it to the “must do” list. If all fails, cut off the laundry services at home!

Consider getting involved in the Trinity Parent Council, which will be your connection to expanding the network and giving you access to career fairs and related events. Be a good listener and stay focused on your goals, as a role model to them, since they need to be focused on theirs.

About Tim

Tim Moore lives in Houston with his wife and has one child at Trinity University. He delivered this talk at a recent “Making Connections” event in Houston.

Trinity graduate Olivia Ochoa with Jeopardy host Alex Trebek
By Heidi and Jorge Ochoa—

“Alex, I’ll take ‘Trinity University Young Alumni’ for $1,000.”

Answer: Olivia Ochoa ’16

Question: Who is a whip-smart, funny, and super-poised “Jeopardy!” contestant?

You are right!

As the proud parents of Olivia Ochoa ’16, we are happy to share her 22 minutes of celebrity as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in mid-February.

Olivia, the Young Playwrights Program administrator at a renowned Seattle theatre - ACT - took the online “Jeopardy!” test in May 2017 along with 70,000 other hopefuls. Her score brought Olivia and another 3,000 candidates to an audition in July. Only 400 folks actually move to “the contestant pool” where they tread water for 18 months. If not chosen, prospective contestants can try again at the next semi-annual “Jeopardy!” online test offering.

Olivia was “ambushed” with the announcement that she had been selected as an actual “Jeopardy!” contestant in September by a KOMO film crew. KOMO is the ABC affiliate that broadcasts “Jeopardy!” in the Seattle market. Working with the ACT Director of Sales & Marketing Amy Gentry, under the pretense of an interview regarding arts and education in Seattle, the KOMO interviewer tried to coerce Olivia into saying that “Jeopardy!” was her favorite TV program. When her focus on the perceived question prevented her from biting on the suggested answer, eventually the television interviewer, Brian Calvert, had to reveal his true mission. Watch that segment here.
Trinity University Ochoa family - Olivia '16 with mom and dad
Olivia Ochoa '16 with dad Jorge and mom Heidi '77
Olivia acknowledges that the Oct. 31 taping of “Jeopardy!” was simultaneously the most fun and the most terrifying day of her young life. Filming at Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif., lawyers, make-up, buzzer practice and heart-pounding waits made up Olivia’s morning. Then came Olivia’s game against four-time champion Gilbert and another player, David, both of whom were twice her age. She settled in between them wearing a dashing red leather jacket and trademark glasses, grabbed her buzzer device, and jumped headfirst into the “Jeopardy!” round. In the midst of baby boomer-weighted categories, Olivia correctly answered a Daily Double (What is “Hadrian’s Wall?”) and handily answered all religion-related and TV questions. She remained the crowd favorite throughout with a composure that far outweighed her years.

An avid reader since always - “Olivia!!! You cannot read in the shower!!!” - Olivia credits her Trinity experience with assisting her in “Jeopardy!” prep by encouraging her natural curiosity in a variety of subjects. A theatre major with a history minor, Olivia points to her theater mentor Stacey Connelly, as well as to Trinity professors Kimberlyn Montford (music) and Ruben Dupertuis (religion) as catalysts for her love for the research, dissection, and interpretation of a subject. Olivia also lauds the work of Trinity (and national) service organization Alpha Phi Omega for pushing her to look outside herself and beyond her comfort zone. Olivia underscores the notion that absolutely no Trinity course or experience was as stressful as taping “Jeopardy!”

Olivia was a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Trinity. She is smart. Really smart. But we point to her perseverance (this was her 4th “Jeopardy!” online test in 10 years), her courage (she orchestrated this entire process on her own during a highly transitional period both personally and professionally), and her rock solid poise in the most surreal of settings as the character attributes we most admire.

About Olivia and Jorge

Olivia is a second generation Trinitonian following her mom (Heidi Ferguson Ochoa ’77) through the hallowed halls of Northrup and the Ruth Taylor Theatre. The only “Jeopardy!” success her mother has experienced is in length of time watching the program. Before Alex Trebek’s 35-year tenure, the host was a guy named Art Fleming and Heidi was watching back then!

Unlike Olivia who actually had the gumption to compete on “Jeopardy!” live, her father, a biomedical engineer (Jorge A. Ochoa tuition payer ’12-’16) is an avid “Jeopardy!” participant from the safety of his couch. He continues to run categories and nail “Final Jeopardy!” questions at home while holding a beer in one hand and a meat sandwich in the other. He lives vicariously through his daughter.

(Editor's note: Senior Katie Middleton just shared her suggestions for nine things for Trinity University students to do now that finals are over and students are heading home for the winter break.  For any TU parents who missed her tips, we thought you might want to catch up! Let us know you you plan to celebrate having your Trinity student home.)

By Katie Middleton–

It's been a long semester of homework and projects and we've finally made it through finals week - congratulations! Here are 9 things you can do to help kick-start your break now that finals are over and really get into some relaxation and holiday spirit.

1. Grab your favorite hot beverage and snuggle up with a good (non-class related!) book.

Whether it's coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, there's very few things that are better than a hot drink on a cold day and a good book to snuggle up with. Read a favorite book or one you've been wanting to read but haven't had the time to get to yet.

2. See some neighborhood Christmas lights.

They're everywhere this time of year and it's amazing to see what people and even whole neighborhoods come up with. Load up into your car with some friends and some good tunes and go check 'em out.

3. Get in some quality time with family, friends, and pets.

The holidays are a time to be with friends and family and whether you're from out of state or from San Antonio it's always a struggle to find time to spend with family and friends during the semester. Enjoy your time with them over the break and get in some good pets and pats to your doggo or other furry friends.

4. Veg out on the couch just a bit. 

Load up the latest episodes of your favorite shows on Hulu or some of your latest binging show on Netflix and settle in. You've made it through another semester and through four or more classes of finals - you've earned it.

5. Cook up some delicious latkes.

Hanukkah is here and so are these beautiful, golden brown potato beauties. Who can say no to potatoes. My new motto is "Potatoes make the world go round." Who am I kidding - that's always been my motto.

6. Light a fire in the fireplace and watch a kitschy holiday classic.

Who can resist a good fire in December? Get one going and turn on a good holiday classic movie on the t.v. - you won't have to flip through many channels to find one this time of year I'm sure.

7. Learn to cook something new.

Now that you've got free time on your hands take a moment to learn a new skill in the kitchen. Learn how to make a new side dish or desert that you can whip out for holiday parties. If you're at home for the break test out your new skills on your family - everyone loves to have someone cook for them - just make sure to clean any mess in the kitchen when you're done!

8. Take some time to organize your living space.

I'll be the first to admit that during the semester I can get a little lax on putting things in their proper place and letting piles of papers and such pile up - we all know the chair - you know, the one that has clothes piled up almost as tall as your little brother? Take the time to clean up your room or apartment and bask in that glow of accomplishment and adultness.

9. Finally, get cozy with some blankets and take that nap you've been thinking about since November.

You been dreaming about this nap for weeks now. It is time.

About Katie

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Katie Middleton is a senior at Trinity University majoring in Ancient Mediterranean Studies. She is also pursuing minors in History and Medieval & Renaissance Studies. She studied abroad in Athens, Greece and hopes to do more world traveling before pursuing a graduate degree. She writes and edits for the Trinity Experiential Learning and Trinity Perspective blogs and is a member of Trinity’s Sigma Theta Tau social sorority.
Trinity University students at study session

(Editor's note: Associate Vice President Michael Soto shared this letter with first year students. For parents with students in the Class of 2021, or in any other class, these tips can be of value if and when students encounter difficulties on campus. He encourages students, and all of us, to be mindful of grit, the willingness to learn from and work hard to overcome setbacks.)

by Michael Soto-

I truly hope that your first semester at Trinity University is off to an amazing start. I also get that not all of you will consider the beginning of your college career amazing. When I was in your shoes—overwhelmed with newness and thrilled about the possibilities—I wasn’t really sure how things were going with my classes until I received back from my professors a paper (A-minus: “Yay!”) and a midterm exam (D: “Uh oh.”)

There’s a lot of talk on college campuses these days about “grit,” which the psychologist Angela Duckworth defines as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Grit is the willingness to learn from and work hard to overcome setbacks. Grit is something I want you to be mindful about. But how?

Take time to reflect. Turn off the computer and silence the phone before asking, "How am I doing here academically, emotionally, and physically?" Be honest, and realize that it’s OK not to be completely happy or satisfied all of the time. It’s OK to fail—just be ready to learn from it.
Trinity University professor Michael Soto
Trinity University professor Michael Soto
There’s only one you. You’ve seen the catchy Trinity slogan, “Discover. Grow. Become.” One of the ironies of the slogan is that while we’re all committed to a similar experience, none of us will live out the slogan in quite the same way. Don’t measure success by any one result, good or bad; follow your own intellectual and spiritual compass to find your way.

You will get better at this. My sons enjoy video games, so when they’re frustrated by a new challenge, I often ask, “How good were you at FIFA when you first started playing, and how much better are you now?” If writing is your Achilles heel, I can assure you that you will be a better writer for being here. If you’re worried about physics, you will get better with time and effort.

We’re here to help. You’ll get better because you’re surrounded by world-class faculty who want you to succeed. You also have the support of our Student Success Center if you should need counseling, accessibility, health, or academic services. In fact, you can find many of these resources under one roof at the new Tiger Learning Commons. Our Student Life team is second to none. And if I can ever help you navigate your way through Trinity, don’t hesitate to be in touch.

I hope you won’t experience an academic setback in the comings days and weeks, but if you do, know that you’re here because you possess remarkable gifts. With a little grit, those gifts will take you very, very far.

About Michael
Michael Soto is associate vice president for Academic Affairs for Student Academic Issues and Retention. He also is a professor of English.

Trinity University students at concert

by David Tuttle –

Most residential universities face challenges in managing campus cultures involving alcohol use and abuse. Trinity University has adopted a very intentional harm-reduction model. We are guided by these three tenets: we acknowledge students will drink; care deeply about student health and safety; and we enforce policies as required by law.

Our efforts around policy development, enforcement, and education are all guided by those principles.

  • We acknowledge use when we permit beer and wine at tailgate parties, as we serve students alcohol at several senior functions, and through our national award-winning Optimal Buzz program that teaches responsible drinking over binge drinking.
  • We demonstrate our commitment to student safety through the "responsible friend" component of our alcohol policy and though the SPIn policy (Safer Party Initiative) and guidelines. The latter assign accountability to off-campus hosts when they put students at risk when hosting parties.
  • And we enforce violations in the residence halls an off campus. A review of our conduct summaries show that staff members are not turning away when they face infractions.

This can all be difficult to balance. For example, while we would fully acknowledge student drinking by permitting hard alcohol, we also know that consuming shots leads more quickly to alcohol poisoning. So hard alcohol is prohibited because we have put health and safety first.

The B'Low Optimal program includes policy enforcement, but offers reduced sanctions for those in violation, but who are drinking at safe levels.

And last year, more than 100 students were trained through the TiPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) social host program to identify and intervene in situations related to problematic alcohol use. More training sessions are planned for the future.

Parents and family members are asked to support us as partners as we manage this difficult issue. We have chosen our harm-reduction approach because there is no evidence that rigid enforcement and denying the realities of student drinking are effective. Students, faculty, staff, and parents all want the same thing: an academic and social environment that puts safety and educational pursuits at its core.

Please visit our Alcohol Webpage to see a slide show explaining our approach to alcohol and videos on the Optimal Buzz and B'Low Optimal programs.

Trinity University students at concert
Trinity's dean of students recommends cultivating friends who aren't obsessed with drinking alcohol.
In a newsletter to new students this summer, we sent the following tips. Please consider reinforcing this information with your students:

Freedom can be intoxicating

For students who go away to college, perceptions of college drinking may lead to lots of alcohol consumption early. Approaching college like it is one big party can lead to a very short collegiate experience.

Tip to students: Remember why you are at school (and how much it costs). Prioritize!

Alcohol is not a finite resource

Often, new students feel that they can't get enough alcohol quick enough.

Tip to students: Pace yourself! Alcohol will still be there for the rest of your life. The first six weeks of school are known as the red zone. That's when bad things often happen: injury, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, hazing, and sexual assault, for example.

Everyone is partying (except for the other two-thirds of students.)

Generally, about one-third of the students on a campus do the heavy lifting with drinking. It SEEMS like everyone else is because drinkers draw attention to themselves, in not so flattering ways.

Tip to students: Cultivate friends that aren't obsessed with drinking. You can find many of them in clubs and organizations and at the recreation center.

Safety is the MOST important thing

You might think you are invincible. Parents and staff members know better.

Tip to students: Try to drink reasonable amounts. Alternate water and beer. Try to consume less than a drink an hour. Drink on a somewhat of a full stomach. Avoid drinking games and shots. Go out with others and come back with them. Look out for others and ask them to do the same for you.

Know the landscape related to alcohol policies

By law, schools are supposed to enforce their alcohol policies. Some are more rigid than others. But all schools have policies, especially for on campus students.

Tips to students: If you are going to drink on campus, usually noise and brewery-like smells get the attention of the staff. If you do get written up, be cooperative and move on. You aren't going to win, and boorish behavior will increase sanctions and just really, just be a decent person to the staff.

The Dean of Students Office will conduct a thorough review of programs this semester. Please also see the 2016 Trinity Drug Free Schools & Communities Act report.

About David

David M. Tuttle is an associate vice president and Dean of Students at Trinity University. You can read his blog, The Dean's List, here.

by Barrie Page Hill --

I feel The Tug before it happens.

Like a boat, bobbing on the water, the vessel straining to break free of its moorings.

I feel The Tug before it happens.

A bouquet of bright balloons fighting for freedom; A gust of wind sending them skyward, dancing, just out of reach.

Yes, I feel The Tug before it happens.

A magnet pulled toward another; A force too strong to fight.

I’m sitting behind the steering wheel, and feel my daughter slip just a little farther away with each mile marker. We are on a road trip across this big, beautiful state of ours. The car trunk is crammed; the backseat, a mishmashed mound of clothes, tangled hangars and a wrought iron chandelier adorned with multi-colored prisms that flash colored rainbows across the car. When we saw it on our back-to-school shopping foray, my daughter declared it “perfection,” and we carted it home, adding it to the growing pile of Dorm Room Essentials. Now, it’s stowed alongside the monogrammed laundry bag, spiral notebooks, new comforter and framed pictures of friends, waiting to be hung in some place of honor, befitting this marvel of dorm room chic. I fear I have exposed my daughter to too many episodes of HGTV.

We’ve had a marvelous summer, me and this kid of mine. I am grateful to share a special relationship with her that only moms with daughters will completely understand. She is my only daughter — My only child. She has been both blessed – and cursed – to be doted on by parents who marvel at her compassion, intelligence and Old Soul maturity. Like all parents, we are proud of our child’s accomplishments, her responsible nature and her choice of colleges. Like all parents, it’s still hard to let go.

I’ve seen – and felt – this inevitable Tug gradually over the last few days. My daughter had the car gassed up, packed up and ready to roll by the time I got off work. She was ready to put miles – and home – in the rear view window. Yes, this road trip has been full of laughs and travel tales, pit stops and rest stops, and I’m glad I’m the one taking my kid to college instead of her Dad. I’m glad I’m the one getting to share these special memories before she slams the car door shut on summer.

I feel the shift though — this Tug that takes her, claiming her like the tide. The closer we get to her college, the stronger this invisible pull becomes. My daughter becomes less enamored of our road trip shenanigans, more impatient. She wants to stop less, get there quicker. Conversations are less animated, more stilted. She is distracted, distant. Mile by mile, The Tug is taking her.

She is texting more — her college chums already letting her know what she is missing, who is going to dinner with whom, what parties are planned for the short hours before classes begin. I feel The Tug before it happens.

I know, too, that this is how it should be. This is natural, normal, and — rationally — I know we will both survive this rite of passage that takes my daughter far from home. She is growing up; becoming her own self, apart from being our daughter, my baby. This is as it should be, and I am proud of the person my daughter is becoming; I know I have to let go and let her live the life she is meant to have.

As her mom, I worry, and my heart aches at the dangers yet to come. She will make mistakes. She will stumble and fall. She will meet kind people and mean people and — though we warn her — we cannot protect her from all that life will fling at her. I feel like I did when my daughter learned to ride her bike. Reluctantly, I let go of the bike seat and watch her wobble away. But I let her ride, knowing too well of the inevitable spills and scrapes that will follow.

Though I am afraid, I have to trust that my daughter will remember our words, consider our advice and realize that we were young once too; that we once walked the same path, and that, we, too, have faltered. As our child, we want to spare her some of our mistakes, some of our pain. As parents, we want to protect our children and tell cautionary tales, offer advice when none is sought. As parents, we arm our children as best we can and end them out into the world. We let go of the bicycle seat and pray.

My hope is that my daughter will find her way, guided by a light that always shines and a heart that instinctively knows the path. I hope her life is full of love and beauty, kindness and miracles. I hope she knows little of life’s dangers, hurts and dark places. The palatable and powerful Tug reminds me that I must let her go. I let go of my grasp, let the balloonsfloat into the vast, blue sky. I untie the ropes, and the boat drifts from the safety of the harbor to chart a new course. The magnetic pull of adulthood is claiming my child, and I let her go. Once again, I let go of the bicycle seat and pray.

Barrie Page Hill with daughter Brenna when she was a Trinity student.
I settled my daughter into her dorm. I helped her hang her clothes and put away books. I watched as she positioned her bed under the window so she could look out into the treetops. But this year, I did not stay to hang pictures or rearrange furniture. I did not stay to make mad-dash Target runs for Command hooks and laundry pods. I didn’t offer to take my daughter and her friends out for dinner. My daughter is a capable young adult. She and her friends are reunited, and she is settling back into college life. Instead, I kissed my daughter goodnight, went to my hotel and left her to catch up with her friends. They made their own dinner plans. I clicked the lock, put up the Do Not Disturb sign and settled for a long bath and a longer cry.

On the ride back home, the seat next to me was empty and gaping. I missed my daughter’s chatter, the silly jokes, our conversations. Instead, I watched the trees and cars blur past and thought of my daughter, settled into her dorm as a new semesters’ classes start tomorrow. She will have a wonderful fall full of football games, pizza parties, study sessions and class assignments. I will greedily gobble up her calls, texts and letters home as she shares her news, her life.

The Tug has happened. And it’s going to be okay. It is as it should be.

If you're a Trinity parent, make sure to check out the parent webpage for resources and ways to engage.

About Barrie

A former print and broadcast reporter, Barrie blogs to document her experience as primary caregiver to her mom, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. I find writing cathartic and find it helps me order some of the chaos of my cluttered life, as she navigates the New Normal of living with a family member tormented by this devastating disease. Her daughter, Brenna Hill '17, graduated from Trinity in May. This post originally appeared on her blog in 2014. View all posts by barriepagehill →
Mom with hat on move in day at Trinity University
by Susie P. Gonzalez

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year at Trinity University. As curator of the Parent Perspective, I invited parents of returning Tigers to share some tips for new parents.

Here are some ideas:
- Bring a toolbox. It doesn't have to be big but should have basic screw drivers, wrenches, etc. for assembling items you don't realize you have until you are moving in.
- Invest in a mattress topper. A memory foam version is worth the money to make sure your student gets a good night's sleep. One mom went a step farther and said to add a bed bug protector as well.
- Assemble a First Aid kit of over-the-counter medications. This will help when the first wave of colds sweeps through residence halls. Include Tylenol, Advil, Zicam, Pepto-Bismol, cough syrup, allergy medications, and other items you know that your student will need. (Editor's note: While you are at it, toss in some Band-Aids, topical anti-bacterial cream, and possibly mosquito repellent.) And of course, don't forget any prescription medications!
- Think about liquid hand soap and a pump dispenser for the bathroom. Also, Clorox wipes and facial tissues are good things for the room.
- A small bucket with other cleaning supplies for those times when housekeeping isn't scheduled but the room needs a touch up.
- Consider a locking box or lockable file cabinet to store items of value that your student absolutely wants to bring to campus but would be heartbroken if they went missing.

Trinity mom on move in day
Trinity University mom on move-in day.
Speaking of items of value, mom Cindy Cooke of Sacramento, California, recommends keeping a balance of about $100 on your student's TigerBucks account. She says her student uses debit cards and Venmo to share off-campus expenses. And in the event of an emergency, Cooke suggests trusting your student with a credit card.

Jean Whewell of Georgetown, Texas, says the upside of taking her third child to college was to purchase in advance a small, free-standing wire shelving rack for the bathroom. It was the perfect place near the sink for toothpaste, combs, soap, etc. that might not fit on the counter top when multiplied by four student occupants.

Although move-in day is a breeze because of the help of Team Trinity, moving out at the end of the year requires some assistance, says mom Loretta Pizzini Mendoza of Houston. She recommends purchasing a dolly that coverts from a two-wheel vertical truck to a four-wheel platform card. "Sure comes in handy when you are moving them home at year end," she writes.

Thanks to Cindy, Jean, and Loretta for sending such great advice.

Best of all, make a checklist and use it when packing from home. Speaking from experience, I purchased some items but forgot to put them in my husband's truck so they didn't make it to campus on the first run. Fortunately, I live close to campus and could circle back to collect the forgotten items. If you don't live nearby, make that checklist! Need more tips? Check out the Parent Guide. 

About Susie
Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity, can be reached at or @susiegonz.