Walker and Cortez lead students into future

By Juan Villanueva | Big Stick Editor |

Without help from his advisors, senior Andrew Vasquez would be very behind on his college matters. But Vasquez, who often spends his time in the Career Center, has been shaped by his advisors who have seeded him help in applying for college, scholarships, and lead him on track to chose his dream school. 

“If I didn’t have someone to talk to, I probably wouldn’t be this far,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez is one of an average of 50 students who come in daily to the Counseling Center for help with anything college and career related.

Although this number may sound intimidating, offering help to students is simple for college advisors Mason Walker, 24 and Sabrina Cortez, 23, who were students themselves not so long ago.

Cortez and Walker stand next to their bulletin board in the Career Center. (Photo by Juan Villanueva)

The roots to college advising began growth with College Advising Corps, which dates back to 2005 to the University of Virginia. The program was first founded by Dr. Nicole Hurd, with the support of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to advise students in high school and help prepare them for their future.

Over a decade later, the program continues to expand to more colleges and universities, with Trinity joining in 2011. Trinity since then has supported the program here on campus and continues to send advisors when needed.

For Cortez, it was her student experience spent in Kyle that drove her to accepting her current job as an advisor. During her sophomore year of high school, Cortez joined College Forward by AmeriCorps, a civil program that helped her get into college and mentored her until the end of her studies.

Being a first-generation college student, Cortez understood the struggles of worrying about college, both applying and paying for it. Being so, Cortez wanted to help young adults, just as she had received help from her program.

“I wanted to be able to help students in my situation,” Cortez said. “Especially students who don’t know their potential.”

Walker always knew he wanted to spend his time helping students. His desire to help others developed from knowledge that he received from his high school teachers while growing up in Dallas.

When Walker received back one of the papers he had written for his English class his junior year, the paper was full of annotations, corrections and ways he could improve it. In the end, his English teacher made Walker feel welcomed and taken seriously.

“The best thing is that he was always encouraging, but honest,” Walker said.

Walker wanted to do the same for other students. Editing both his own writing and the writing of others, such as student college essays, continues to be one of his favorite things to do.

“I always knew that I wanted to work with high schoolers,” he said. “I wanted to impact the lives of students.”

While Cortez and Walker enjoy watching students press the “submit” button on college applications, and opening acceptance letters, they also enjoy interacting with students and learning about them. 

“I enjoy learning about what they want to do with their future and where they want to go,” Cortez said.

Cortez also enjoys absorbing different cultures and learning how they are spread to help create impact. Unfortunately, it is this same reason that will lead Cortez to leave after this year. Cortez plans to return home to Vietnam where she will take advantage of her degree in international studies and teach English. 

“Teaching English is a growing field and I have family there,” Cortez said. “Personally, I love to experience cultural immersions. I live for those.”

After Vietnam, Cortez will keep wandering and traveling. She aspires to be part of the Peace Corps to assist as a two-year volunteer to help individuals outside of the states and eventually become a college professor for Caribbean Studies. 

“I definitely want to stay with education,” she said. “But, my interests definitely change.”

Similarly, Walker will say goodbye to being an advisor as this is his second year. Next, Walker hopes to teach English if not on campus, somewhere within the district. There, Walker will focus on continuing to influence students and help them prepare for their future after high school just as he did helping Vasquez and so many others their dream school.

Now, thanks to his advisors and continuing to work on scholarships, Vasquez is set to attend Sam Houston later this fall. There, he plans on studying animation and hopes to one day have a cartoon show of his own.

“I’d be late for everything if it weren’t for them,” Vasquez said. “I probably wouldn’t even have known of Sam Houston.”

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