By Crystale Galindo

When Heather Rodriguez ’06 BA, ’11 MA accepted the position as dean of enrollment at the University of the Incarnate Word in May, she received many congratulations and feedback that sparked an idea for her new role.

“When I announced I took the job, I had my fellow alumni reaching out to me saying, ‘this is such a great thing – UIW is giving back to their own by hiring their graduates to serve the University and mentor other students,’” Rodriguez shared.

That is when the idea hit Rodriguez and she asked herself, “why not capitalize on being an alumna of the University?” Alumni are in a unique position to share their institutional knowledge with authority and expertise and in ways future students can relate to. Who could better represent the student experience than those who lived it?

Dean of Enrollment Heather Rodriguez

“I am a two-time graduate of UIW, I have been a student and lived the UIW Mission,” she said. “What a great opportunity we have to utilize alumni to help recruit students – they can share their perspective and experiences, and how UIW has impacted their lives in different ways.”

Diego Flores ’16 BBA is one of those alumni who reached out to Rodriguez asking how he could help. Flores is looking forward to doing his part to help recruit students through attending educational fairs and events on behalf of the University. “Serving and helping is the Mission of the University of the Incarnate Word,” said Flores.

As a first-generation college student, Rodriguez shared that UIW has molded her into the leader she is today. “UIW made college a reality for me and if it was not for the University, I would not be in this leadership role,” she said. What’s more, students facing obstacles to their education can take heart in the accounts of others who were in similar positions and yet, found success. “For us to be able to share these stories with potential students who feel higher education is not an option can really change the paradigm and make them see what they can do and that it is possible.”

Rodriguez said her goal is to have graduates talking about the brand, and showing how they are living the word of UIW.

“We are building the leaders of tomorrow at UIW,” Rodriguez said. “Helping the University in student recruitment is a way for our alumni to give back, just as the Sisters of Charity gave back and started Incarnate Word.

“Part of the Mission of UIW aims to educate men and women who will become concerned and enlightened citizens within the global community,” she said. “This is a way for alumni to continue living the Mission.”

Alumni interested in learning more about taking part in the recruitment process may contact Rodriguez at

McCracken Alumni Referral Scholarship

In addition to recruiting, alumni can also give first-time first-semester students an opportunity to help fund their education. The McCracken Alumni Referral Scholarship was established to honor the legacy of UIW alumni passing the torch of knowledge to new students. It is named for Richard McCracken, former dean emeritus of alumni.

The deadline to apply for the Spring 2018 semester is Dec. 1, 2017, and the deadline for the Fall 2018 semester is Feb. 1, 2018.

For more information, contact the Department of Alumni and Parent Relations at (210) 829-6014 or visit