Posted on May 19, 2023 by Brooke Crum

Eunice De la Cruz

Eunice De la Cruz

Eunice De la Cruz knows her way around pretty much every building on the Main Campus. The UTSA Facilities quality assurance housekeeping coordinator doesn’t get lost anymore.

And on May 20, De la Cruz will find her way to the Commencement stage at the Alamodome, where she will receive her B.S. in Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology from the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP). The Nuevo Laredo native earned her degree while working full-time for UTSA Facilities.

Every weekday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., De la Cruz works as a housekeeping coordinator for the university, ensuring every facility is inviting and prepared for students, faculty and staff. She has worked for UTSA Facilities since 2008, first as a housekeeper and then as a coordinator, but De la Cruz realized she wanted to do more with her life. She wanted to pursue a career.

The 55-year-old knows how to work hard and juggle a full-time job with going to school. She won’t tell you it’s easy, but she will tell you it’s worth it.

“There’s no other way,” she said. “Just keep going.”

In 2001, De la Cruz earned her GED in Spanish from San Antonio College. She started taking classes at St. Phillip’s College in 2015, eventually earning an associate of science degree in 2020. But De la Cruz said she grew bored without the challenge and interaction of going to school, so she transferred to UTSA in 2021, at first taking all her classes online.

Sometimes, the burden of homework after eight hours of physical work overwhelmed De la Cruz. There were days she didn’t want to do her coursework at home in the evenings, but she found support and encouragement in the faculty and staff at UTSA, especially her professor and mentor Erica Wallace, a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Health. De la Cruz said Wallace is “one of those teachers you remember.”

“There’s lots of opportunities here for careers and to be successful,” De la Cruz said. “Set your mind and you can do it.”

That’s how she always encouraged her three children to succeed. When her children were in college, De la Cruz would tell them to study hard so they could be successful, and she took that same advice when she enrolled at UTSA after they had graduated college. She said it was her turn now.

After all this time and hard work, De la Cruz said it will be surreal to walk across the stage on Saturday and have her children watch her graduate. Her impending graduation didn’t sink in until she went to get her ring.

“When I walk the stage, I’m going to cry,” she said. “It gives me goosebumps. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would do it.”

But De la Cruz isn’t done dreaming. After graduation, she plans to complete her internship with UTSA Facilities over the summer and then possibly start working toward her master’s degree at UTSA.

— Brooke Crum