(Evan Landez's interview is right after this introduction. Please read on, his interview was quite candid and raw. Well worth your time.)
A personal project.
Yeah, I know, I know, "Another one?! You never finished the last one." I am pretty bad about keeping up with personal projects, and this one might be the same. Who knows? I hope not though.
This one I am calling "UTSA at Face Value" and the goal is to show the people who make up UTSA and their stories. This is what I consider to be the face of UTSA.
As you may know, I am a student at UTSA, and for all the years I have been attending, I have felt like UTSA has not gotten the recognition it has deserved. It is not an Ivy league school, but it is a very important school here in San Antonio. Unfortunately there are bigger and more popular schools very nearby and so UTSA often gets the middle child treatment.
I think that is a little unfair and so I want to showcase the people who make up UTSA and make it special. I am always curious as to why people are attending UTSA and not some other popular schools, what their story is, where they came from, and just who they are as an individual. I have had this idea for a long time and I have thought about it a lot. Eventually I realized that this project that I had in my head was quickly becoming not so dissimilar from Humans of New York. That is not at all what I intended, it just happened that way. So to Brandon Stanton, as if you will ever see this, sorry!
In any case, this is the first of the series and I introduce to you my friend Evan Landez. (Huge thank you!) These interviews will be slightly edited down, but I will try to keep the integrity of the interview itself. Enjoy, and look for more of these in the upcoming months here and on instagram. Also, I will inevitably make a lot of mistakes along the way. Please comment here or on instagram about how I can improve this project as I am kind of flying blind here.
"I'll be honest, it probably wasn't my first choice coming to this college. You know, I applied to different schools like Tech, some schools in Minnesota, Kansas, but you know, when money is kind of tight all around it was kind of a last ditch effort.
The one thing I saw and has kept me coming here is the triathlon team. They've helped me fill that gap I had of trying to find a reason to stay here.
Stuff has happened, family stuff, and it has made me appreciate family more because it has made me appreciate life more. My junior year of high school, my grandmother died. That was an incredibly rough time, especially for my grandpa. The first time I ever saw my grandpa cry is when my grandmother died.
My cousin was a couple of years older than me but we were very tight knit. When this happened he made the decision to leave Connecticut and live with my grandpa for a few years. Last November he suddenly up and left San Antonio and went back to Connecticut. When I tried to contact him to see what had happened, he wouldn't respond. I was a little pissed to say the least. We were more than cousins, we were like brothers. We did everything together, watched scary movies, stuff that you would do with your best friend.
Easter rolls around and I was told he was put into a rehab facility. We found out he had schizophrenia. I had no idea, this was a guy that I thought I knew everything about. I was told that he had tried to commit suicide. It left a kind of pit in my stomach because for all these past months I was angry at him and I had no idea what was going on with him.
For the next 5 months, still no contact with him, but I knew he was getting the help he needed. And then he calls me one night randomly and we talked for like 2 hours. He talked about what had happened, how he was feeling, what movies we would see when he came back, we would probably go see Black Panther.
But then one day while I was here at UTSA, about to leave here to go to work, my Dad texts me, 'Hey, can you come here before you go to work.' It was like 15 minutes before work so I told him I couldn't. As I am walking through the parking lot I'm scrolling through Facebook and my uncle posted a very vague status like, 'No. God no. Why?' I'm a little curious about what happened so I called my Dad. He told me my cousin had committed suicide.
That's probably the hardest thing I have ever had to go through.
My grandma, she was sick for years and years, I always knew that eventually it was going to happen. When it happened, it didn't make it any better, but she had lived a long life. But my cousin, he was 22 years old, and it just happened out of the blue. It happened like two weeks after he had called me telling me he was all fine. His birthday was on the 3rd of March, he would have been 23.
My biggest thing, when it comes to death, especially of a family member, is that last second you see them. That last glimpse you or anyone else will get to see of them, when they finally have the last viewing, and they finally close the coffin, that is when it gets real.
This is life. Life is always going to be unfair to you, the best you can do is embrace whatever life you have. Do whatever makes you happy. Right now triathlon- I could be doing something more productive, I could be going to interviews, or going out into the work field (I want to be a teacher), or I could be doing something else productive. But triathlon makes me enjoy life and it is what I like to do.
It's still rough. It comes in waves, how much you can miss a person. One day you will be normal, go and see a movie, do some homework, and then suddenly, while you're driving, you will just get a flood of memories."