What began as a small lecture series with the UTSA president has become UTSA’s signature “Great Conversation!” event—hosting 38 stimulating conversations between professors, community leaders and students.
Harriett Romo, who founded the event, saw that there was a need to alter the event to include a conversation with multiple topics. “I’m a professor and I really love it in my classes when students get engaged and we have a wonderful discussion,” she said. “I wanted the community involved.”
In its first year, the event raised $10,000 but with the event getting more attention from the community, professors and sponsors, $161,765 was raised this year. Over the past 12 years the event has raised over $1 million for students.
Funds raised from the event go to Honors College students for scholarships, research and other learning opportunities at UTSA. “I’m looking into study abroad because I really want to venture out and experience a different culture,” said Therese Quinto, an undeclared freshman Honors College student.
Community members and Honors College students come to the event for an opportunity to learn about topics with professors who are educated in the field. “When I came here I hoped to meet other people from different backgrounds and get their opinion,” said Quinto.
Topics are planned within the ‘Great Conversation!’ committee. “We think of the ideas and think ‘Who would be a good person to talk about this?’ or sometimes we identify a person that we know has done something interesting and ask them ‘What would you like to talk about?’’ said Romo.
Although the event is meant to raise funds for students, it also serves to connect UTSA to community members and to have them participate in thought-provoking topics. “We wish to connect to the San Antonio community,” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. “We wish to have a discussion where people learn something.”
UTSA’s ‘Great Conversation!’ dinner did more than raise funds for students. It brought people together for good conversation. “We learn from two sources,” said President Romo. “We learn from books and we learn from each other.”