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As a first generation college student, Courtney Hunter did not know what to expect of her college experience. “The only idea I had of college was from watching the TV show ‘A Different World,’” she says.

Like any incoming college freshman, Hunter was excited for her newfound independence. One of the first thoughts she had when she arrived at UTSA was that she needed to get involved on campus. “The campus was so diverse and there were so many things that sparked my interest. I definitely wanted to jump in and find out more about the campus,” Hunter says. She found ways to be involved throughout her college career, leading her to becoming the president of Volunteer Organization Involving Community Education & Service — more commonly known as VOICES — as well as the vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU).

One of the first organizations Hunter saw when she first arrived on campus was VOICES an organization with twenty one years under its belt that called her. It seemed like the perfect fit; Hunter could get involved without making a big commitment while she got acclimated and she would also be able to try out something that she’d never seen before. The first project Hunter helped with was Kaboom Playground and that was enough to ignite a passion in her.

I can’t exactly describe the feeling I get when I volunteer,” she says. “But I know it’s special.”

Her start with BSU, an organization that acts as a network for students of African American descent and helps them to come up with solutions for the problems they face, was somewhat different. It was during her sophomore year that Hunter attended one of the meetings with a friend, after said friend recommended Hunter got involved with the organization. Hunter attended the many events that BSU hosted and the following semester stepped up onto the executive board; she has been pushing for the organization’s cause ever since.

“I truly believe what BSU stands for,” Hunter says. “And feel that this organization has helped shape some of the best student leaders that have walked on UTSA’s campus.”

During her four years at UTSA, Hunter looked up to many student leaders, wanting to follow in their footsteps. However, her success truly came when she began taking steps of her own. It’s because of this decision that her advice to younger students is to “leave your legacy behind on campus and to always pay it forward.”

One of the most surprising things Hunter found during her college experience is how drastically she changed. College allowed her to learn about herself and to “stretch her comfort zone” as she puts it. Like any other experience, it had its pros and cons. But for Hunter, the good always outweighed the bad. She was able to make long lasting friendships and meet outstanding people during her four years as a student, surrounding herself with many student leaders who helped her grow both academically and personally.

“I am more outspoken and confident about expressing myself,” Hunter says. “Here I truly learned that iron sharpens iron.”

Hunter does admit that she is sad about leaving UTSA behind. It’s not that she missed out on experiencing certain things but the fact that maybe she did not get a chance to take advantage of some opportunities. “So much is changing on campus and I feel that right now is the perfect time to be a freshman,” she says.

She is thankful to everyone (students, faculty and staff) that worked with her and contributed to the person she is today. “I can never fully pay them back,” she says. “The best way for me to come close to paying them back is guiding and helping other people along their journey in life too.”

Her personal experience at UTSA is the drive behind her long-term goal of creating a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging urban youth to pursue college degrees. She is looking forward to graduating and pursuing her goals on a larger scale as well as making a positive impact on a larger community. “I personally don’t feel that I would be in college if it wasn’t for the organizations that helped me,” Hunter says.

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