By Vivian Hernandez-Serna
Pulse Staff Reporter
Angie Saenz fulfilled her long-time dream of graduating from college while raising five kids and working a full-time job.
“It wasn’t easy for her, and she had some hard times,” said Angie’s older brother, Ruben Treviño.
Saenz grew up on the South Side of San Antonio alongside her four older brothers and her mom. She grew up very poor, and she worked tirelessly to get where she is.
It was always Angie’s personal goal to be the first in her family to graduate from college and to show her kids the importance of an education. In total, it took Angie about 20 years to receive her bachelor’s degree in Communication, but in the end it was all worth it.
“Make a plan, stick to it and revisit it, if you need to, because life happens,” said Saenz.
Because her youngest daughter has special needs, Saenz decided to go to school to become a speech therapist or a special education teacher. After receiving her associate’s degree from Palo Alto College in 2008, she took a couple of years off from school. Soon after, she decided to go back to school and pursue her bachelor’s degree.
“Palo Alto College was so enlightening and very dear to my heart,” said Angie.
Initially she planned on transferring to Our Lady of the Lake University. However, she couldn’t afford to quit her job, so she decided to change her major to Communication at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
“It was really something special about doing the one thing for myself,” Angie said. “It was also nice to kind of get away for two hours and do something for myself.”
Because Angie didn’t want her education to burden her family, she only took one or two classes a semester. She did this while she worked full-time as a Community Investment Manager at the construction engineering company Zachry Group and cared for her five kids.
Her typical day consisted of going to work at 8:15 in the morning and then went straight to school. Depending on what classes were available, she usually attended evening classes or took online classes.
“I had a couple of long nights during the week, but I just had to make it work for my family,” Angie said. “I just had to manage my time wisely, which is hard because there are a lot sacrifices that I had to make, and I try not to make those sacrifices for my kids.”
Thanks to the help and support from her family, Angie was able to focus and complete her education. During the evening, Angie’s mother took care of her children while she went to school, and if it weren’t for her husband, there was no way she could have completed her education.
“He was always supportive and always encouraged me to finish school and kind of kept me going,” said Angie.
Saenz’s 21-year-old daughter, Danielle Redfield, witnessed her mother struggle in her last two years of attaining her degree, but in the end she is very proud her “Super Mom’s” success. Saenz’s other children are 10 months and 3, 20 and 23 years old.
One person who served as a mentor and pushed Angie to finish school throughout her journey was her former boss, Cathy Obriotti Green. Angie worked for Cathy’s legal department at Zachry Group for about 20 years.
“I know there were times when she didn’t know if she could keep going because it was such a grind and it took so long,” Obriotti Green said. “She basically is a pretty determined person, so that is not a challenge.”
Currently, Angie continues to work for Zachry Group in philanthropy where she raises money for campaigns, such as United Way, to help the community.
Although Angie’s path was tough, she has no regrets.
“Just look at the big picture and envision the day you’re done,” she said.