FirstGen Grad to Teach for America in Detroit
Forging one's own path in life is no walk in the park. It requires commitment, perseverance and self-awareness. Jenny Treviño was the first in her family to go to college, will be the first to graduate with a degree in international studies and was selected for the Teach for America program. Soon to be placed in Detroit, Mich., Treviño accepted the job offer with a definitive “bring it on.”
Treviño will graduate with 350 undergraduates and 793 graduate students on May 18 at Reliant Arena. President of the French Club, vice president of the International Studies Society and a member of several honor societies, Treviño didn't think she was even going to college.
“My college counselor in high school and my geography teacher, who is a UST alumna, suggested St. Thomas, but I didn't even decide to go until November of my senior year,” Treviño said. “They were both really encouraging, and they were right.”
From Spring Branch High School in Northwest Houston, Treviño had a rough start to her college career. Her family was supportive, but had trouble understanding her lack of time to spend with them.
“My mom didn't finish high school, so she recognizes the importance of an education,” Treviño said. “At first, I had no idea what I was doing. I made some really good friends who helped me, and I then realized I could go to the business office and they sorted everything out for me.”
Treviño found her safe haven at the Center for International Studies , where she is currently working as staff support – just one of her two jobs. Originally wanting to be in the CIA, she is still shocked at the transformation she has undergone.
“International studies has absolutely changed my outlook on the world,” Treviño said. “It's been so eye-opening. Before I got here, I lived in my own little bubble, and my life and family issues were the most important thing. There are so many other people in the world that have it worse, and it's made me grateful. Also, by learning about other countries, I've learned a lot about America.”
Studying about the world has also made Treviño environmentally conscious, a side effect she was not expecting. She presented her research on waste pickers in developing countries at the 2013 Research Symposium.
Upon graduation, Treviño is looking forward to her next adventure: teaching with Teach for America in Detroit. According to the Teach for America website, Detroit records “staggeringly low” high school graduation rates and the poorest National Assessment of Educational Progress in the United States. Treviño, like the website speaks highly of Detroit's opportunity, and even though her peers are apprehensive, she is optimistic.
“I grew up kind of the same way as some of those kids,” Treviño said. “I really feel passionate about this. If I hadn't had educators who took an interest in me, I wouldn't be in college. I want to do that for students – even if I help just one, it will be worth it.”
Treviño moves on June 15, and will train in Chicago, Ill., for a month and a half before heading to Michigan to teach Spanish. Her biggest fear ¯ the cold weather.
Treviño will strive to emulate the adults at UST who have impacted her so deeply and invested in her future, such as Dr. Livia Bornigia, assistant professor of communication, Dr. Linda Pett-Conklin, associate professor on international studies, Dr. Felisa Reynolds, assistant professor of French and Spanish, and Diana Garcia, office manager for CIS.
“I don't know if they know how much they affected me,” Treviño said. “They have really high expectations of me and kept me motivated. I learned a lot about myself and being a well-rounded individual at St. Thomas, and I think that's really valuable.”
Watch Commencement Live
Those not able to attend can watch a live stream of the graduation ceremony.