Graduation can breed mixed feelings. While obtaining a degree provides a sense of pride and accomplishment, it can also conjure up some stress. This marks the time when the real world becomes just that, but fear not — Roadrunner success stories are plentiful.

A prime example of this is UTSA alumna Christina Cuyler. Since graduating in 2011, she has gained experience in a few different industries. From modeling to zoo keeping, Christina has landed careers that accentuate many skill sets.

Besides her career skills, Cuyler exudes happiness and can always keep everyone laughing. Her easy-going personality helps her take on anything, and she genuinely cares about others. She loves music, sushi, the color pink, the movie “Grease” and describes herself as an avid reader.

When asked about her time at UTSA, Cuyler says, “ I will always cherish the time I had there. My classes were very interesting. My professors were very knowledgeable and that made learning challenging yet fun.”

After gaining interest from her introduction to Anthropology class, Cuyler decided this would be her major. At a deeper level she focused on Primatology, which reflects her love for animals. As her education progressed she “fell in love with learning about non-human primates,” Cuyler says. In fact, her dream job was to become a non-human primates researcher.

After graduating, Cuyler worked for the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium as a zoo keeper. There she tended to and worked with the animals.

“I was able to do animal training and teach the animals new behaviors such as standing on their hind legs,” Cuyler says. Although she loved her job at the zoo, the maintenance became too intense. “I could not see myself doing that type of work long term.” Aside from school and work, Cuyler developed her talent as a model. From taking this leap she gained great insight. She described her experience as fun and challengin. “If I were to explore that world again, I would know what my strengths and weaknesses are,” Cuyler remarks. Currently, Cuyler enjoys her job as a retail manager for Hollister and plans to grow with the company. In addition to this career she is working to develop a non-profit organization called Gifts Too. “I had the idea one night to create a group that will allow my friends and myself to get together once a month and volunteer somewhere,” says Cuyler. The interest in starting the Gifts Too organization was sparked from feeling like she didn’t “get out enough to make a difference to better the world.”

Gifts Too had its first event in January 2013 — an event devoted to helping the homeless of San Antonio in various ways. Participants handed out blankets, scarves, gloves, hats and Bibles and “talked about Christianity to anyone who was willing to learn about (Gifts Too) and what inspired us to help reach out,” Cuyler says.

“My most memorable event since then was the outreach of handing out hygiene kits and Bibles to homeless people downtown,” Cuyler recalls.

Gifts Too strives to be a fun and welcoming place for anyone to volunteer to help people in need. It’s also meant to be a great way to make new friends. There are even a few prizes awarded for volunteering.

In five years, Cuyler plans to have greatly furthered her status with Hollister and hopes to have developed Gifts Too even more. In 10 years, she hopes the non-profit will be well known in and around the country.

To achieve goals, determination and motivation are two key factors. Feeling encouraged and supported by others has a huge impact, too. Cuyler adds, “I have an amazing family that I have and still can rely on for anything I need. As a Christian, I completely rely on God for true fulfillment.”

While attending UTSA, Cuyler was an active member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where she gained some life-long friends, grew as a leader and even got to go to Mexico for a week-long mission trip.

“For freshmen, I would say to take school seriously, but go with the flow as well. You won’t have all the answers, and you might see people who think they do, but they don’t,” Cuyler offers as advice. “For seniors, never forget what you truly love doing. (College) is a time to find your path career-wise, but it might take you a while to find a place that you want to stay long term.”

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