This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity of attending the 12th annual President’s gala, the largest our university has ever seen.
The event took place downtown at the luxurious Grand Hyatt hotel, and had nearly 1,200 students, professors, and notable guests from our community in attendance. The experience of attending my first university gala was an unforgettable one and I’m sure many can say the same!
Not only was the dinner exceptional, but learning about the importance of furthering research to support the growing number of caregivers, hearing from the evening’s guests of honor, and watching the inspirational video tribute on Advancing Excellence in Caregiving made the event truly special.
The Student Ambassador Experience
The evening began with each of the university’s five student ambassadors welcoming guests and guiding them to the main hall where the reception would take place.
Each one of us proudly wore our medals to signify our role as student ambassadors for the university.
Did anyone ask about the medals around our neck?
Yes! One couple kindly stopped to ask me what the medal was for. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with them and be able to share more about the research our students are doing to advance the health sciences.
Many of the guests in attendance were also happy to take “selfies” with the student ambassadors and expressed their excitement over the significant role that students will play as the next generation of scientists and health care practitioners entering the field.
Soon after welcoming guests into the reception hall and guiding them to their tables the evening’s program commenced.
An Evening in Support of 50 Years of Excellence and Caring for the Caregiver
When the dinner began, Dr. Heinrich welcomed everyone and expressed his gratitude towards the community for working to support our university’s mission of “making lives better.”
As the night progressed, the honorable Nelson W. Wolff was invited to the podium to introduce the guests of honor for the evening Karen and Ronald Herrmann. Wolff painted and beautiful picture of the life of service and commitment that the Herrmanns have lived.
This year was a special one for the school of nursing as they celebrate their 50th year anniversary, and also accept the honor of receiving a $1 million endowment for research to advance excellence in caregiving.
At the gala, Dr. Heinrich introduced the newly established Karen and Ronald Herrrmann Endowment for Research to Advances Excellence in Caregiving. The endowment will serve to support the school of nursing’s quickly growing Caring for the Caregiver program.
After hearing remarks from the evening’s guests of honor, a video montage featuring stories from individuals who work with the school of nursing was shown. The first video highlighted the community’s growing need for programming in support of caregivers. As the population gets older, many spouses, children, and relatives will be tasked with caring for their loved ones suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among other diseases and ailments. Many of these individuals are unprepared for this and lack the critical social and emotional support that they may need. This is why more research in this area is crucial.
The next two videos featured inspiring stories from nurses working the frontlines with vulnerable patient populations, such as neonatal patients and disabled children, direly in need of a nurse’s or caregiver’s loving and gentle care.
All of the stories that evening left me inspired to strive for excellence, kindness and humility in all the work I do, whether that be through research, community service, or leadership opportunities now and in the future.
Music, Dancing, and Friends
At the program’s conclusion the fun continued with music from a live band called Chinatown.
The dance floor was packed with students from across the university, some who attended the reception and others who were invited to enjoy the dance party.
The evening also gave me the opportunity to catch up with old friends who I’ve known since the start of my time in the Ph.D. in translational science program, and also get to know new ones from the schools of health professions, nursing, medicine, and dentistry.
Once I transition to becoming an alumnus of this school I very much hope to give back to our university and graduate school the same way so many at the gala have.
Without their support and mentorship, I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today!
I hope to attend more of the president’s galas in the future and hope you will have the opportunity to attend too!
This article was written by Rosalie Aguilar, M.S., the national project coordinator for Salud America! a research and communications network that works to promote health equity for Latino children and their families. As the coordinator, she has led numerous efforts to engage Latino communities across the U.S. in online campaigns aimed at promoting healthy changes through policy, programs and systems level change. Aguilar is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Translational Science from UT Health San Antonio and her current research interests lies in exploring the use of technology and online communication to engage Latinos in health advocacy work. In her spare time, Aguilar enjoys music, outdoor activities, and volunteering with local non-profit organizations such as the Greater San Antonio Area Hispanic Dental Association, Dentistry from the Heart, and the American Diabetes Association.