My Home Away from Home
My Experience at the University of St. Thomas
By Vivian Ivette Cabrera
To supplement our fall College Guide, we're featuring some stories from college kids about their experiences. --CD
My whole life, I’ve dreamed of attending a private Catholic school. My Abuelita, or grandmother, instilled in me a desire to practice my faith at a young age. I come from a Mexican-American family where faith is practiced not because you want to, but because it’s a tradition you cannot live without.
My Abuelita with her nightly family rosaries, however, had a different plan for me. After graduating from high school, I searched for Catholic universities all over America and found University of St. Thomas in Houston to be the best fit for me. I knew from the moment I stepped foot on campus that I was meant to be here. It just felt right. It felt like home.
I jump-started my college career with the UST Mendenhall Summer Institute. It is a college transition program that allows freshmen to acclimate themselves to the campus and college course-work before they begin their freshman year. After successfully completing it, I earned a scholarship through the program and even returned the following year as a student mentor.
It was during my sophomore summer as a mentor for Mendenhall that I met and mentored two girls, Elena and Amber. As I began my first year with Residence Life as a resident assistant, both were placed in my hall where I continued to mentor them. Our friendship grew and we even became co-workers on staff the following year. We come from completely different backgrounds, from Mexican-American to Venezuelan with Romanian roots and even Pakistani, but our friendship is effortless.
Apart from Res Life, I am actively involved in Campus Ministry. I lead a Bible study and occasionally minister the Eucharist during Mass. I also intern for the University’s Marketing Communications Department. It can be difficult to balance school work with Res Life and extracurricular activities, but keeping a balanced schedule and staying busy is what I like.
In May, through my involvement in Campus Ministry, I had opportunity to go on a mission trip to Ukraine. My experience with the orphans and college students in Ukraine transformed my life. They taught me to love my neighbor the way Christ loves us all and to trust in the Lord when times get tough.
Attending St. Thomas was honestly the best decision of my life. I can truly say that the friendships I have made here will last a lifetime. I have friends who encourage me, support me and even hold me accountable for my mistakes. I have grown tremendously as a person, both spiritually and intellectually, and I’ve discovered my passion for writing! I understand so much more now about life than ever before. I don’t believe I could have gained this kind of dynamic education and experience from any other school.
University of St. Thomas is my home away from home. It is a place where I can truly be myself, the way Christ intended me to be. When I walk across the stage at commencement in a year, I know my Abuelita will be proud.