Parents at Trinity University

by David Tuttle—

Every summer the Trinity University residential life staff fields questions from parents before their sons or daughters move to campus, receiving many queries about room dimensions and configurations, the length of the clothes bars in the closet, and more. Planning and setting up a room is fun. Helping one’s offspring prepare is an important ritual in sending a child off to college. Nevertheless, there is some other preparation that is even more pressing.

I remember asking one mom why she insisted in setting up her son's room. She told me it was because if she didn't, nothing would happen beyond move-in day. Indeed, it doesn’t take long before most students’ rooms are in disarray. (At check-out in May, parents often ask, “What is all of this stuff?”) Plans for clean rooms and organizational systems are quickly forgotten amid papers, pizza boxes, and piles of laundry.

In the meantime, students will struggle with homesickness, poor time management, freedom and the consequences that come with it, opportunities for alcohol consumption and other substance use, and poor grades. While many of you have addressed things as life lessons for the past 18 years, you may want to reinforce some of these messages or address new ones specific to the college years prior to August.

So send your child to Trinity, not only with stackable bins from the Container Store and little sewing and tool kits (that they will probably never use) but also with anticipation of how they will manage real and important issues and experiences.

The answers to many of these questions are obvious as to what they should or should not do:

Safety

Will they lock their room doors when they aren’t there? Will they sleep with their doors locked? Will they drink and drive? Will they get in a car with a drunk driver? Will they leave parties alone or with friends? Do they know they can call the Trinity University Police Department for on-campus escorts?

Health issues

Can they survive on pizza and soda alone? Will they be able to develop a regular sleep pattern? Will they budget their meal points? Will they take advantage of excellent recreational facilities and the intramural program on campus? Will they take their medications?

Alcohol

Will they drink alcohol? What will they do to take care of themselves or a friend? Will they ride with a designated sober driver or just the person who is least drunk? Do they know the consequences of alcohol violations on campus? Do they know the alcohol policy?

Sex
Do they know that Trinity has a sexual misconduct policy? Do they know how to protect themselves? What do they think about “hooking up”?

Roommate issues

Will they be assertive? Will they be respectful of a roommate’s reasonable habits and requests? How will they ask for that respect in return? Will they stand up to a roommate who brings in a guest and tries to kick them out of the room? Will they ever treat their roommate this way?

Parent-child relationship
How often will you communicate and by what means? How often will you visit one another? For the first visit home: What will the house rules be applied on visits and holiday breaks?

Finances

Which bills will they be responsible for paying? How often will you send money or add funds to their Tiger Bucks account? What is your philosophy on credit cards? Should they look for a part-time job to offset costs?

Trinity University students at the Writing Center
Students can get help with essays at the Writing Center. 
Academics

What are their academic strengths? How will they get to know professors? What questions will they ask the faculty adviser? In terms of study habits, what will they do differently than in high school? What are the important dates on the academic calendar? What kind of support do they like to receive from you?

Campus involvement


What clubs or organizations are they interested in joining? How will they make new friends?

Game systems, video games, instant messaging

Will they take their game systems with them? How much will they play each day in relation to doing homework? Will they use the systems to break the ice and have fun with others? Will they play so much that they don’t get involved on campus? Will they text during class? Will they live on social media and neglect studies?

Responsible citizenship


Will they work to make the campus a better place? Will they take time to understand campus rules? Will they treat campus neighbors respectfully? Will they pre-judge people because they are different? Will they embrace diversity and learn from others? Will they care for the University facilities they are using?

Career exploration

Will they meet with staff from Career Services and their professors to relate their interests to different majors and careers? Will they investigate job shadowing, internships, volunteering, research, or other career-building endeavors, beginning as early as their first year?

That is a lot to cover. Maybe there are some topics that are more pressing than others. Even our New Student Orientation uses a triage approach to the most critical messages being shared first, usually issues related to safety. You have lots to talk about this summer. Help them get ready for college, not just ready for setting up their first room.

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.

Trinity University Chamber choir

(Editor's note: Although the 2016-17 academic year has ended, we want to share one more story from a proud parent of a student who sang at the Tobin Center during the spring semester.)

by Lee Carter —

On Feb. 22, 2017 our son, Zachary “Zack” Carter, sang in the Mozart “Great” Mass in C minor at the Tobin Center. Zachary is a bass in the Trinity University Choir. His father and I traveled from Atlanta, Georgia and invited another couple who reside in San Antonio to join us. We all thoroughly enjoyed the concert. The quality of the performance was outstanding. It was amazing to witness the collaboration between the San Antonio Choral Society, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Choir, and Trinity University Choir, along with the four soloists and orchestra. It was also very nice to see our son dressed in his tux.

Zachary is a physics major at Trinity University. However, music has always played a huge part in his life. He has been in chorus since the 4th grade, and was in the Chamber Choir and two musicals during high school. At Trinity, all students are eligible to participate in the choir. That allows for a diverse and substantial volume of talent

The Mozart Mass was like hearing the angels singing; prayer put to music. It makes one feel closer to God. It was wonderful seeing Zack singing again. We look forward to future concerts with the Trinity University Choir. In addition, we love San Antonio!

I totally agree that “At Trinity, each and every person matters—every student, every alumnus, every member of the staff and faculty…Trinity respects and nurtures each person’s unique talents, spiritual growth, skills, passions, leadership, and potential...(While) preparing our students to make a tangible, positive difference wherever they go.”

Trinity student Zack Carter
First-year student Zack Carter at a HUMA presentation.


College is a time for challenging oneself and discovering God’s plan. During Zack’s college search we discovered Trinity University offered excellent academics, a broad range of opportunities, small class sizes, and close connections with faculty and fellow students. During his first semester at Trinity, one of Zack’s professors hosted a dinner at her home for her entire class. Wow!!

I have been a nurse for 34 years. I can attest to the health benefits of music: It eases pain, relieves depression, improves sleep, enhances recovery after surgery or illness, strengthens learning and memory in both the young and old, boosts immunity, and decreases stress. This is significant since “Seventy-five percent to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are for stress-related illnesses and complaints.”

How many times have you been in your car, when a song comes on the radio and it can change your whole mood. It can make you relaxed, sentimental, joyous, energized, and even inspired. Besides the shower, and church, my the car is the only other place where I sing! Zack got that talent.

In closing, I want to quote from the late musician John Denver: “ Music does bring people together. It allow us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics, or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”

About Lee


Lee Carter is a registered nurse who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is grateful to be able to express appreciation for such a great concert.


by Aliza Holzman-Cantu—

Today it finally hit me. Like a ton of bricks - that too-often used phrase that describes perfectly the weight of emotions that pummeled me on my drive to work.

It began with innocently looking at my Timehop app while drinking my coffee. This morning my memory of six years ago was, “With as many graduation special events Sophie has this month, one would think she was graduating from high school, not elementary school!” But now that memory is really about today. High school graduation is less than one month away. I am not ready.

As I smiled about the memory, I looked up to see Sophie (my high school senior) sitting in the living room playing with the puppy. She was dressed in her typical “uniform” (oversized T-shirt and Nike shorts) with no makeup on. She looked just like she did seven years ago as a fifth grader ready to take on middle school. How can college be just a few short months away?

It is not that I don’t think she is ready. She is. She had the benefit of wonderful educators to prepare her for university life. It is that I am still in disbelief that my first baby is truly a young adult, not a child.

All those vacations spent visiting campuses and U.S. regions to see where she would like to go to college have culminated in her finding the school that felt just right to her. The truth is, it is not a university that I would have chosen for myself, but it is a terrific place with so much to offer a young scholar and of course, I am not the one going. She has chosen to attend an SEC (Southeastern Conference) school, known for its school spirit, gorgeous campus, and friendly atmosphere. It is a school where she has found the majors and minors that she dreams of pursuing. AND, above all, it is a university that understands what the ton of bricks feels like to parents and makes my husband and me feel secure that my daughter’s best interests are theirs.

You, as Trinity parents, have probably felt these same emotions. And you, with college graduates, have certainly felt them more than once. Being a parent is certainly an emotional roller coaster, with hopefully more highs than lows. Trusting others to educate your “child” is not an easy decision. Working at Trinity has helped me to understand what I did not comprehend as an undergraduate here. It takes a community to provide an education. I am privileged to work with dedicated professionals throughout campus who ensure the full Trinity experience is accessible to all our students. It is this team of people, and the parents that I get to meet through my job, that are getting me ready for this next phase of life. Thank you. I am almost ready.

About Aliza

Aliza Holzman-Cantu ’92 ’94 is director of Parent Giving and Engagement and truly loves getting to know Trinity parents. She received both her BA in Communication and MA 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 TexasEx) and her two daughters, Sophie (12th grade) and Iliana (9th grade).


(Editor’s note: This Trinity mom reflects on her new grad’s college years.)

by Jennifer Mackender—

It seems like yesterday, my daughter, Ally, and her dad were sitting on the floor in our Colorado home looking up at the office walls admiring the bubble letter, colored marker, college hunt spreadsheets she had made. Each piece of typing paper, taped side by side in a perfect horizontal line, listed the name of the college and had bullet points showing the well-researched strengths and weaknesses of each school.

I remember on the weekends, as these lists would be created, edited, and sometimes torn from the wall and tossed in the trash, I would listen from another room as Ally and her dad would chat, laugh, and argue while discussing her college search. I was not necessarily drawn into their conversations, sometimes feeling left out and jealous of their commitment to the process. It wasn’t that they weren’t willing to include me – believe me they were! However, instead of joining the conversation, I tried to quietly walk past or find an errand to run so that I could remove myself from the activity.

I was at peace and I didn’t know why.

Why, at a time when I should have been hovering, talking more than listening, and giving my advice, had I become absent? After all, I am a stay-at-home mom. And like all stay-at-home moms, I was committed, I was sometimes annoying, and I was certainly the stereotypical helicopter parent. So why wasn’t I doing my job?

I had always been there to help Ally make those important life decisions. Which Build-a-Bear should I buy? Should I spend all my money on a Justin Bieber concert T-shirt? Am I a vegetarian or should I eat the burger? So why wasn’t I there now? How had I become quiet, peaceful, and confident at a time like this? Why was I confident in her ability to make this HUGE decision without me bothering her every step of the way?

As my daughter graduates from Trinity University, I now realize that the years of hovering, teaching, guiding, inspiring, modeling, and loving paid off. It led Ally to make the huge decision to attend Trinity, a school that has the same values that we instilled in her and our son, Ethan. It just felt right; she had found a university that mirrored everything we had been working so hard to impart on our children.

Trinity, like our home, provides love and support, but encourages her to take risks and face challenges.

Trinity, like our home, provides friends and professors that become family and provides her with connections to never feel alone.

Trinity, like our home, provides her with enrichment and the opportunity to nourish her talents.

Trinity University mom Jennifer Mackender and Allyson
Trinity mom Jennifer Mackender with daughter Allyson '17
Trinity, like our home, emphasizes the importance of embracing and accepting diversity and helping others.

So, prospective parents, as you watch your son or daughter make their huge college decision, be quiet as they process, be thoughtful as they share, and be confident as they waver. Most importantly, though, know that if they choose Trinity University, the students, faculty, and community will be there to pick up from where you left off. You’ve done well, mom and dad.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Mackender resides in Denver, Colorado. Her daughter, Allyson, graduated Saturday, May 13 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Her son, Ethan, is finishing his first year as a business student at Carthage College in Wisconsin. She is most proud of raising her two college-aged kids to be happy, healthy, and independent. She is a public health educator and enjoys spending time with her family, watching ’Husker football and breathing in the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains.
Trinity University student Brenna Hill, right, and her mom

(Editor’s note: In advance of Trinity’s Commencement on Saturday, May 13, this mom reflects on The Hunt for the right college and just how right Trinity was for her daughter.)

by Barrie Page Hill—

I knew we were in trouble when the plane made yet another merry-go-round swoop, circling the sprawling Atlanta area, waiting for clearance to land. Flight attendants buckled into jump seats; the red warning light kept crew and passengers tethered. The kind man in the aisle seat directed the overheat vents toward my daughter, who sat, motionless, ashen, gripping the armrests. The plane dipped and banked as the tiny houses below whirled in a colorful, patchwork kaleidoscope.

I rummaged in the seat pocket and ferreted out the crumpled white bag and thrust it into action just as my daughter lurched and wretched. The plane made a final swoop, straightened, and frazzled passengers exhaled a collective sigh when the wheels finally bumped the pavement.

After the plane rolled to the gate and passengers crowded the aisles, tugging open overhead bins, a flight attendant offered up a bottle of water and dampened paper towels. My flummoxed and abashed daughter sheepishly apologized for the disruption. The kind man in the aisle seat patted her arm, told her he had daughters of his own at home, hoped that she felt better and that her college visits would go well.

This was one of the first of many adventures my daughter and I shared when we started the exciting -- yet daunting -- challenge of narrowing down her long list of potential colleges. Our trip to Atlanta was flanked by visits to LA and Little Rock, Oklahoma and New Orleans.

For this mom, packing a suitcase and heading out to visit a campus was a perfect excuse for packing in another memorable trip with my soon-to-grad-high-school daughter. I was racking up mileage and memories while she earnestly tried to picture herself in the campuses’ hallowed halls.

We dusted ourselves with white powdered beignets and bustled through the bawdy crowds on Bourbon Street. We posed under the Hollywood sign and marveled at the hilltop view from a posh college in Malibu. We sampled street food and hailed yellow cabs in New York. We yelled “Boomer Sooner” and warbled “Oklahoma” as we crossed the Red River to visit my mom’s alma mater. At the campus bookstore, my daughter bought a coffee mug to cart home for her grandmother.

Together, my daughter and I trampled across the Lone Star State on long, lovely, weekend road trips. We’d pin on name badges and meet up with bouncy tour guides who rattled off college facts and pointed out campus amenities.

During The College Hunt, my daughter kept a huge whiteboard, using it to chart applications, essay deadlines, acceptance letters, and scheduled visits. She tallied tuition costs, national rankings and potential scholarship opportunities.

I was giddy to be part of The Hunt, thrilled that my serious, studious and pragmatic daughter was weighing the pros and cons of each school and not swayed by whether the football team made it to the Final 10 or if the party scene was adequate for a sheltered kid from the suburbs with strict parents who would soon dismiss curfews and make her own decisions.

I was honored to be part of The Hunt, humbled that my daughter wanted me to ride shotgun on visits as she narrowed the field. We visited small towns and big cities; Campuses touting co-ed dorms and religious classes. We visited party towns and sleepy hamlets. As the months went by and airline miles grew, more red Xs colored the board when potential destinations didn’t make the cut.

Trinity University student government presidents Nick Santulli and Brenna Hill
Brenna Hill, right, is a former SGA president who helped bring B-cycle service to Trinity. 
It was really no surprise when one university rose to the top of the list -- and after an impressive and impressionable campus visit -- my daughter was officially smitten with her No. 1 choice. I was secretly relieved that my daughter’s ultimate selection was not taking her out of state or across the country.

I had felt the same when we visited the campus -- some intrinsic feeling that this was my daughter’s place, that she belonged here, that this is the school I’d secretly hoped she would select. I kept my opinions to myself and carefully gauged my daughter’s reactions when we visited classrooms, dorms, Mabee Cafeteria. I was pleased when she met two other girls on the visit, the trio chatting like longtime chums.

Likewise, I met up with a wonderful and charming group of parents. Under colorful umbrellas on the meandering River Walk, we spent a pleasant evening dining and sipping margaritas while our kids were off learning more about their potential college. After our amazing weekend visit, my daughter was giddy and excited on the drive back.

I came home from work one day to find my daughter dragging the whiteboard down the hall to stow in the garage. She filled out her acceptance form and started calling herself a Trinity University Tiger. Soon high school T shirts were replaced by a TU jersey. When she posted about her decision on social media, it started to sink in; I started to believe it. The Hunt was over. My daughter had made one of the most important decisions of her life and a whole new adventure was about to begin.

I have not once regretted my daughter’s choice of schools. Trinity has been my student’s ideal match. As a mom, I am amazed and awed to have had the privilege of watching my daughter’s transformation from shy First Year to confident and capable Senior in the four years she has called Trinity and San Antonio home.

I think about to those early college visits when my smart, but very shy, daughter wouldn’t even consider a dorm stay to learn more about the school. I think about the lunches in crowded cafeterias, when my shy kiddo was hesitant to join a table of other parent-student teams. I think about that Atlanta flight, thinking then, that there was no way my daughter could leave home and travel across the country. She was too young. She’d never find her luggage at baggage claim. She’d lose her airline ticket. She’d get snatched while hailing a cab. She was my baby.

I think about that Atlanta flight and remember how worried I was -- not that my 17-year-old was sick from turbulence -- but that stern and severe gut punch every parent gets when they finally realize they’re about to have to let go and let their child figure out how to find the air sick sack on their own.

Unbelievably, I soon found us packing up the family sedan, buying dorm room essentials, and she was off. My little girl was about to grow up.

My daughter’s four years at Trinity have been, quite simply, amazing. Once she made up her mind, she set forth on her educational journey, seizing every opportunity, embracing her quest for knowledge in the classroom and through her associations with an amazing group of professors, administrators, friends and colleagues. She has experienced dorm life, sorority sisterhood, frat parties, afternoon teas, fine dining, nights of take-out pizza, her first crush, first apartment, grocery shopping, budgeting, and balancing the transition from student to soon-be-grad. She has learned the yin and yang of work and play, juggling and prioritizing and keeping it all in perspective; (something her driven, OCD-prone mom has yet to master.) I am in awe of my daughter’s drive, determination, and dedication.

Through Trinity, my daughter claims a close posse of smart and amazing friends who have become her second family. They are ambitious and humble, loyal and funny. After graduation, they will scatter like dandelion seeds on the wind, to do great and wonderful things. They will, no doubt, keep in touch. These friends will remain, lifelong and true. Likewise, my daughter has assembled an impressive team of mentors -- professors and staff and colleagues and associates from whom she has learned so much. It is to these amazing minds she will, no doubt, continue to turn for professional and personal advice in the years to come. She is a part of something special: A legacy of learning. A community of caring. Alumna of an amazing university that fosters the very best in its students.

Trinity student Brenna Hill with her mom in New York
Barrie and Brenna Hill in New York City.
My daughter is loyal, trustworthy and does what she says she will do. She thinks critically, analyzes aptly and has a world perspective that many my age will never possess. Through Trinity, my daughter has become an intrepid traveler, studying abroad in Germany and Spain. She wasn’t snatched while hailing a cab. She did, however, get stung by some strange insect while sunning in a Madrid park and her ankle swelled up like a tree stump. (No, this neurotic mom did not board a hastily booked flight, though it was tempting when I first saw the texted pictures of the swollen and misshapen ankle.) My daughter and her host family managed just fine without me, and she recovered to enjoy an incredible summer. She has hundreds of photos documenting her adventures. At the end of the trip, my traveler’s flight back was uneventful and non-turbulent. She never even needed the white bag.

For my daughter, Trinity has provided an incredible education; a place where she was encouraged to explore, experiment, learn, listen, engage, evolve -- and become herself.

In a few days, my husband and I will pack a suitcase. We’ll be making another road trip. This time, we’ll gather with other proud parents, watch through misty eyes as our little girl, our daughter, accepts her diploma. Four years of tests and teamwork, research papers and projects, exploration and adventure will be acknowledged. We are proud of our daughter’s scholarship. We are proud of her perseverance. Mostly, we are proud that she has become the person we always hoped she would be. She is capable and confident, able to take on life’s blessings and bounty and bumps in the road. She is Herself.

And this mom has absolutely no doubt my daughter will be able to find that little white bag should she ever need it.

Fly, my little bird, fly. You have wings and places to go.

About Barrie

Barrie Page Hill, proud mom of Brenna Hill (TU class of 2017), is a former broadcast and print reporter currently serving as an academic advisor at a large public university to students entering the field of communication. Barrie still accepts occasional freelance writing assignments and contributes randomly to her blog at https://barriepagehill.wordpress.com/author/barriepagehill/ where she chronicles experiences as primary caregiver for her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Barrie and her family live in Arlington, Texas, with a menagerie of rescue pets.

Brenna will graduate with majors in urban studies and sociology and minors in political science and Spanish. At her next stop, she will be a development coordinator with the Make-A-Wish office for central and south Texas.


(Editor's note: In honor of Earth Week, we are sharing an essay by a family that chose Trinity University because of its commitment to sustainability.)

by Jill and Mary Cooper --

In 2013, we were on the circuit tour of university campuses in search for the best match for our daughter. Lindsey always had a passion for the environment and the protection of natural resources, and as her parents, we wanted to foster that appreciation. It quickly became apparent that the campus she chose would not only have to be of high academic quality, but to also be the greenest campus possible.

Our first steps on Trinity University's grounds led us to the stream of recycled water that flowed throughout the middle of campus. As we toured various buildings, Lindsey pointed out the plaques stating LEED certifications. She immediately explained to us that LEED certifications required stringent criteria given to projects that exhibited “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

Additionally, at every turn we were happy to discover recycling bins next to trash cans for sorting and collecting not only garbage but recyclables. Although not every prospective student and parent probably notices these things, we were immediately drawn to them! Knowing that Trinity supports sustainability issues and is on the forefront of research to advance that study was, and continues to be, most impressive.

Mary Cooper, Lindsey Yazbek, and Jill Cooper celebrate Lindsey's "Unsung Hero" Award.

In Lindsey’s first year she joined SOS (Students for Sustainability) and jumped right into furthering her interests. Promoting the sustainable garden, enhancing recycling issues, and studying geosciences and environmental studies was the perfect trifecta for our “green inclined” daughter. The following year she became co-president of the student organization. We were proud of the direction she took in leading the renamed organization, Eco Allies, with sponsored displays, demonstrations, and work on campus promoting sustainability.

The faculty and staff at Trinity were and continue to be supportive of those efforts as she was given the “green” light on all proposed ideas and requests. Lindsey was even able to work with professors on research with reclaimed and recycled water and its value. The epitome of all that hard work combined with her passion culminated this month when she was named the recipient of the “Unsung Hero Award” in honor of her work in sustainability at Trinity. This most green campus was certainly the best fit for our greenest daughter.

About Jill and Mary Cooper

Jill and Mary reside in Buda, Texas, outside Austin. They have had similar career paths. Both are retired kindergarten teachers from the Austin Independent School District, each with 30 years’ experience in the classroom. Mary is currently employed as an administrative assistant for an aerospace engineering firm in Kyle, Texas, and is also a professional scorer for nationwide student standardized testing. Jill is a part-time tutor in reading and math for fourth and fifth grade students in Austin, and also drives for a local ridesharing company (Ride/Austin) in her spare time.


by Jana Reddoch and Steve Spindel

Earlier this semester, our son, David Spindel ‘20, performed the Great Mozart Mass in C minor with the Trinity University Chamber Singers, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Choir, and the San Antonio Choral Society at the Tobin Center in San Antonio. He had been anticipating and practicing for this opportunity for months. Of course, we also had great excitement and planned a special trip from our home in Portland, Oregon, to San Antonio to hear him sing.

David played violin through the 7th grade, then joined the school choir in 8th grade. The Upper School choir at Oregon Episcopal School, under the direction of Adam Steele, is small, about 25 students, and locally very successful. The choir advanced to the Oregon School Activities Association state championship each year. David found immense joy and fulfillment singing during the chapel at school, carols and hymns at nursing homes, and challenging technical pieces for local competitions.

David chose to attend Trinity University to pursue sports management, international business, and Spanish studies. After meeting with Jacob Tingle, he felt Trinity has the best to offer. He was thrilled to accept admission.

Additionally, he met with Gary Seighman, conductor of the Trinity University Choir and Chamber Singers. His kind manner and reassurance encouraged David to audition for the choir. Dr. Seighman made it clear that even if David was not planning to major or minor in music, the choir at Trinity wanted him to continue to learn and perform.

Mom Jana Reddoch, David Spindel '20, and dad Steve Spindel
David has had a wonderful time in his first year. Of note, he was very proud of the Christmas Concert and Vespers performances. We were able to live stream the concert on the Trinity Tiger Network. Our family plans to visit one year during the December weekend of these performances. “Oh mom, you would love it, it is so beautiful.”

We have to choose our visits to Trinity carefully, as there are no direct flights from Portland, Oregon, to San Antonio. We knew we would come for Parent’s Weekend, after “the first 100 days” of college, the longest we have gone without seeing him. It was completely reassuring to find him so happy at Trinity. The flight home was not as sad as anticipated.

Trinity student David Spindel at the Tobin Center
David Spindel '20 prepares to perform at the Tobin Center. 


When the date of the Mozart Mass concert was known, we simply had to see such a special performance. Never mind that four tornadoes touched down in San Antonio 15 minutes after our plane landed!

We arrived at the Tobin Center with the sun setting behind the silhouette of palm trees and lights shining on the great pillars of the entrance. It is beautiful! Inside the clean, modern, and elegantly designed interior is a world-class concert hall. The stage filled with members of the three choirs, the orchestra, the soloists, and the conductors. As parents, our hearts swelled and our eyes filled with tears while witnessing our son sing so joyously.

About Steve and Jana

Steve Spindel and Jana Reddoch are physicians living in Portland, Oregon with their daughter Cara, a junior at Oregon Episcopal School. Steve attended New York University. Jana attended the University of Washington. They met at George Washington University Medical School 32 years ago.

Audience at Trinity University

by Joseph M. Knippenberg

I have followed with interest, but thankfully from a distance, the back and forth regarding speakers recently invited to the Trinity campus.  Beginning with last year’s Milo Yiannapoulos extravaganza (not sure what to call it), and extending to this year’s lectures by Ryan Anderson and Dinesh D’Souza, the campus has been roiled by controversy. Should the speakers have been invited in the first place?  Do students have a right to protest them? Does that right extend to shouting them down, as happened to Charles Murray recently at Middlebury College? Or is the appropriate response to listen respectfully to what they have to say, and then challenging them vigorously and rigorously in the question period?

I think you can tell where I’m going by the way I posed my questions, but let me begin by laying my own cards on the table. I’ve been a Trinity parent since 2014, a college professor since 1985, and a campus denizen of one sort or another since 1974. Though I have on a few occasions demonstrated for or against particular points of view, I have never protested a speaker. I have, to be sure, hosted a speaker students regarded as controversial, so I know something of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of student hostility. (To be clear, you couldn’t pay me enough to be in that position day in and day out.  My skin is thick, but not that thick.)

I am committed to a vision of a college as a place of learning that requires the free and full exchange of ideas and opinions. Some—but most emphatically not all—of that goes on in the classroom, which requires that I both encourage students to tell us what’s on their minds and articulate points of view that they may find challenging and sometimes even repugnant. Students in my classes will read and talk about Aristotle’s defense of natural slavery and Thomas Hobbes’s snarky critique of the Greek philosopher’s inegalitarianism, Alexander Stephens’ critique and Abraham Lincoln’s defense of the egalitarian reading of the Declaration of Independence, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s argument that a right to same-sex marriage is found in the Constitution and the dissenters’ searching criticisms of that position. My approach to teaching requires me to make it difficult for students to take the easy way out. It’s not good for them not to have to wrestle with and respond to serious challenges to the truths they happen to believe are self-evident. Not to confront those challenges as serious alternatives is to hold their views as mere opinions and to be incapable of thoughtfully and articulately defending them. Stated another way, a genuinely liberal education requires that students come to understand, so far as possible, the reasons for the opinions they have. And that requires, as I have said, that they consider the arguments for their opinions as live arguments with serious opponents, not as unchallenged and hence effectively dead dogmas.

But I’m really here to talk about what goes on outside the classroom, which constitutes a very important part of every student’s education. I have some preferences there too, but much less—indeed almost no—control. Leaving aside the dorm room conversations that go on way past my middle-aged bedtime, let’s focus on those pesky invited speakers. Sometimes faculty like me do the inviting, but often it’s the students. I know what I want—smart, articulate, thoughtful speakers who will do from a different point of view and perhaps better what I’m trying to do in the classroom. I’ve been there and done that a lot—both as the organizer of lecture series and conferences that have as their principal audience the college’s undergraduates and as an invited lecturer (offer me a little money and a nice meal, and I’ll think of something more or less edifying and educational to say to your students.)

Students are not educators, so that when they invite someone to campus, it may not be to promote the respectable pedagogical aims of the faculty. They may merely want to be entertained, or they may want to be fed some ideological red meat by someone who vividly and effectively articulates what’s on their minds. The talks may not be intentionally educational, and sometimes they’re not even all that informative, but I’m here to tell you that that’s OK. Your hard-earned tuition dollars are not being wasted.  (Let me hasten to clarify something, lest I be misunderstood: in many cases—indeed, in all the controversial recent Trinity cases, if I’m not mistaken—the funds that pay for the speakers are provided by external organizations.  All that the University is doing is permitting the event to occur on its campus. Your tuition dollars are literally not paying for Milo, or Ryan Anderson, or Dinesh D’Souza.)

So why are these sorts of talks a good thing? First of all, they provide a kind of practical learning experience for our students. They learn how to deal with all the complicated logistical arrangements of hosting an event; they learn how to organize support and/or opposition for the speaker’s point of view; and they may even learn how to manage conflict with friends on the other side of the fence. These are important civic skills that can’t as readily be cultivated in the classroom. Yet if we don’t somehow cultivate them, we risk losing some of what it takes to be a self-governing people.
Second, we faculty aren’t just bystanders here. Because speakers invited and hosted by student groups are (by definition, I suppose) interesting to students, these sorts of events actually engage the students.  They care about them, sometimes quite passionately. And that’s a passion that we teachers can use in the classroom. These are the proverbial teachable moments, when something outside the classroom gets brought inside and becomes the basis for a discussion in which the walls separating the realm of books and ideas from the “real world” are breached. Wow, is that fun!  And, wow, is that important because we don’t have to work all that hard to get our students to care about it! And we can take the material they’ve provided, which they didn’t think of as part of their education, and make it, yes, “educational.”

Let me say one last word about the faculty role. My preference is for hospitable treatment of and respectful engagement with outside speakers. Whatever may happen “on the street” or at a Congressional town hall, the college setting is supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be collegial, cooperating with one another in the search for the truth. This requires civility, which of course requires a kind of self-restraint. We faculty members certainly should require that civility of ourselves and also of our students, who won’t always get it exactly right. (And that’s OK. I prefer a few unintentional missteps to the resentful self-censorship which doesn’t let anyone actually engage with the question and—perish the thought!—actually learn something.)  So we should attend those controversial lectures and provide a kind of model of civil and critical engagement with those with whom we disagree.  That too is a civic skill, one that we need to cultivate if we are to continue to be able to govern ourselves.

If you want more food for thought, let me recommend the following things:
·         Dean Tuttle’s very useful and timely blog post.
·         Pomona Professor John Seery’s wonderful book, America Goes to College
·         My reflections on Seery’s argument in Democracy Reconsidered

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 www.libertylawsite.orgwww.thefederalist.com, and www.thepublicdiscourse.com.


Trinity University Student Service Project

by Richard and Terri Reusch

An old saying goes, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Knowing why should be based on a relationship with the environment and its inhabitants. Finding meaning in life is quite simple when a strong relationship awareness is established. Motivation to improve our world is strong when we connect to people and places other than our own.

From a sense of concern grows empathy, compassion, and altruism. Only when we truly appreciate our world and its life can we apply our energies and resources to improving life’s experience. A sense of gratitude for not only the gift of life as an individual, but also for the good fortune through time, should be enough to spur one to “giving back” so that others find a higher meaning and purpose to account.

Our son Ryan grew up as what is affectionately known as a “military brat” since both of us had combined military careers of more than 40 years. Military families understand service to others. They give generously of their time daily. Commitment, sacrifice, and a sense of duty are an important part of their lives in their communities and any part of the world they serve. Providing positive support and making connections can help strengthen your relationship with your family as well as bolster your own self-worth.

Reusch family at Trinity University
Rick, Ryan, and Terri Reusch.


As a parent, developing a child’s character in three essential realms is key. The first realm is self. Praise and reward for positive virtues lays the foundation for confidence; confidence leads to effort; effort moves toward accomplishments; accomplishments produce success; and sustained success brings a level of excellence. This path should not be tied to ego or self-promotion, but to purpose. The second realm is the environment. Awareness of the micro and macro surroundings are gained through experimentation, formal, and informal education. Experience and research builds the required knowledge for responsible actions and decisions. The final realm is found in the value of networking and connecting with others to accomplish significance. The legacy of an individual is often in the hearts and minds of others as well as the deeds.

We are extremely pleased to hear that Ryan is investing his time and energy as a member of the Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC). His active participation in a program such as TUVAC demonstrates his character. I look forward to the impact that his service has on his peers, his campus, and how his work with TUVAC changes him. I know he is grateful for the opportunity to serve as the executive coordinator.

About Richard and Terri


Richard “Rick” Reusch is a retired registered nurse from the U.S. Air Force, having served 23 years. He holds an MBA and is employed as a nurse administrator with the Veterans Administration overseeing poly-trauma and spinal cord rehabilitation. He enjoys bike riding and reading. Terri Reusch retired after serving 25 years as a Air Force registered nurse with a master’s degree. She is currently back in school earning an associate degree in culinary arts. She is active in her church and as school board president at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School. She enjoys gardening and traveling.


by Wynona Mobley --

(Editor's note: We shared another family's story about the Kente ceremony in last week's Parent Perspective. Learn more about this mom's "extensive research.")

Trinity always had my vote during the college process. Like most mothers, I did my research – extensive research – and was pleased with what I found. A university that would challenge, encourage, and prepare my daughter for her greatest successes. But what about diversity? While the statistics I found may not have been exactly what I hoped, I understood the reality. I trusted that the low representation of diversity would be relative in relation to the overall population. I hoped.

This hope quickly turned into a confident reality. From the strength of the Black Student Union to the frequency of Diversity Dialogues, Taylor’s comfort in regard to diversity on campus eased my mind and reiterated my initial belief that Trinity was the right decision for her college experience. Each story, each experience, each moment Taylor shared with me touched my heart, but there was one moment that meant the most to me. It was the first annual Kente ceremony that took place the week of her graduation.

When Taylor initially told me that some of her fellow seniors were planning Trinity’s first Kente ceremony, I was skeptical. The Kente ceremony is a rich tradition on most campuses that recognizes African-American seniors for the successes and achievements that led them to graduation. The term Kente comes from the cloth design on the stole that is worn by graduates to act as a visual representation for reaching this milestone. The ceremony is intimate and a family member “dons” the graduate with a beautiful stole. My skepticism did not come from doubts that the students could plan an appropriate ceremony, but rather from a fear of how the university would receive it. To hold dialogues and meetings is one thing, but to support the first Kente ceremony, clearly specific to one racial group, is not only a risk but could be taken the wrong way. I am pleased to say, however, that my doubts went away the minute I arrived.

James, Taylor, and Wynona Mobley at the 2016 Kente ceremony. 
The ceremony exceeded my expectations. As I watched the event unfold, I did not feel as if I was witnessing the first Kente ceremony at Trinity, but rather one that carried on a preceding tradition. It was a proud moment to see a group of young men and women, many of whom I have witnessed grow over their college career, start a legacy that will carry on long after they are gone. Each student introduced the next recipient and invited their family member to don them with the Kente cloth. To see young students of color sing each other’s praises was a moment I won’t soon forget. The bond between them was unbreakable which suggests the environment that fostered their relationships over the past four years was a healthy one.

As an illustration of the University’s inclusiveness, the audience at the ceremony said it all. Attending were the president, the dean of students, and even coordinators of Residential Life. For them to support this ceremony put on by the Black Student Union, Black Male Leadership Initiative, and African Student Association speaks volumes of Trinity and its core values. It was in this moment that I felt my research four years ago was not only true, but it was exemplified right before my eyes. Trinity is forever growing, innovating and trying to be better. Not just academically but socially and, in the midst of it all, I believe diversity is at the forefront of the change. Trinity could have rejected this idea when it was brought to the table, but instead, it was welcomed, supported and well attended.

I am proud of my daughter for being part of this inaugural ceremony at Trinity, but I know this group of students won’t be the last group to take risks and test the limits. Whatever the situation may be, I believe Trinity will be there to offer the same support I witnessed throughout Taylor’s college career. Therefore, if you’re doing extensive research, like I was, and you’re hesitant when it comes to the diversity category, trust that Trinity will make your child feel included and valued, no matter what the statistic says.

About Wynona

Wynona and James Mobley are the parents of Taylor Mobley ’16, who was active in the Admissions Office as a Distinguished Representative, tour guide, and Admissions intern while working with Tiger TV and as a resident assistant.


(Editor's note: In observance of Black History Month, we are sharing a story about Trinity's first Kente ceremony sponsored by the Black Student Union. We will share another family's story next week.)

by Frederick M. Woods --

Kente cloth, known as Nwentoma (woven cloth) in the Ashanti language of Ghana, is a sacred colorful silk cloth worn only in times of extreme importance. The Trinity University Black Student Union (BSU) deemed, as did their parents, that graduation from college is a time of extreme importance. Therefore, to memorialize it in an African tradition warranted the wearing of Kente cloth.

So on May 13, 2016, in a separate pre-graduation ceremony attended by the graduating black students, their family, friends and Trinity University President Danny Anderson, the BSU held its "First Annual Donning of the Kente Ceremony" in Parker Chapel on the Trinity campus. My daughter, Bria M. Woods, a 2016 Trinity graduate, made sure that she and her parents attended.

Celebrating with Bria Woods '16 after the Kente ceremony is her brother Mike and parents Rhonda and Fred Woods.
As her father, it was a high honor to place the beautifully designed Kente cloth around my daughter’s neck following a reading of her bio by one of her graduating peers. It was equally an honor to listen to the bios read about of all the other graduates.

After donning their Kente cloth, there was endless picture taking and heart warming fellowship and bonding with all of the graduates and their families in the picturesque Chapel Meditation Garden. There, the graduates and their families shared stories of times past along with plans and dreams for their future.

It was an outstanding ceremony and should remain a Trinity pre-graduation ceremonial tradition. To BSU members, asante sana, which in Swahili means thank you very much.


About Frederick

Frederick E. Woods is the father of Bria M. Woods '16, who graduated with majors in communication and film studies.


by Robert and Lisa Gain—

“I want to go to Trinity University in San Antonio.” That is what we heard from our graduating senior, Joshua. We had not heard of Trinity before but my first thought was “San Antonio is not too far from Waco; maybe three hours, but not too bad.”

We visited, he loved what he saw, he was accepted, and he chose his classes as a first-year student. I was surprised when he chose the country western dance class as his P.E. credit. In junior high and high school in Waco, he only danced when there was a school or church program that was choreographed. He always did well on those, but the only other times I can remember Joshua dancing is with the Just Dance on the Wii and then at prom. I could tell he had rhythm but was still surprised and happy that he was taking a social dance class.

When Joshua came home at Thanksgiving, I was shocked when he invited us to his Country Western Dance final. He said it was going to be open to the public and he would like to show us his newly learned dance skills. I was very happy because this is the only thing he has invited us to. He had been talking about how well he and his partner have been doing. They were practicing some afternoons and some weekends.

Joshua talked throughout the semester about how much fun and what a good instructor he had. He mentioned the instructor was willing to put in extra time with any of the classes during non-class hours. He told me of stories of some of them meeting at different places to practice dance skills. I could hear the pride and confidence in his voice when he talked about the dances he was learning.



No way were we going to miss this dance final since it was open to the public. He even said other parents might be there too. I asked him, “What if we are the only parents who show up?” He assured me he didn’t care. We had a great time meeting his friends and watching him and his partner dance; they placed first in one of the dances. We took the friends to eat afterward and had a great time getting to know them.

Life is different without Joshua at home. His younger brother often turns to him on the couch and starts a sentence only to realize that Joshua’s spot is empty. I text him often and call him too. He is enjoying his newfound freedom and admits to sleeping too late much to my dismay but that is part of growing up. Joshua is a first generation college student and Trinity seems to be a great fit for him.

About Robert and Lisa

Robert Gain has been in the copier repair business for 21 years with 15 of them being with Parsons Office Systems in Waco. Lisa Gain has been with Central National Bank in Waco for seven years and currently works as a lending assistant after being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years.
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.