Inspired by his grandfather to chase his dreams and finish what he started, Angel Morales will receive his bachelor’s degree in management from the Carlos Alvarez College of Business at UTSA 15 years after he first started his educational journey.
“I’m more grateful this time around,” said Morales, who left UTSA to care for his grandfather then later his mother. “Coming back has given me a sense of gratitude to the institution. I wonder what my 18-year-old self would say.”
But the path wasn’t easy for Morales, a San Antonio native from Edison High School. Playing out like a tragedy at times, Morales overcame numerous obstacles to achieve his dream.
“My family inspired me to work hard at whatever I do,” he said. “My grandmother would tell me how she worked seven days a week for seven straight years. And my mom raised my twin brother, sister and I as a single parent. They worked so hard for me, and I can’t do less.”
Over five years ago Morales began working as a bus driver for VIA. “I love my job,” he said. “It has offered me a great opportunity to see the city in a unique way. I’ve been to places that most San Antonians have never seen.”
But a workplace accident in 2019 that resulted in his bus flipping, the start of the pandemic and the death of his grandfather had him reevaluating his life. “I realized that I wanted something more,” said Morales, who was the only sibling who hadn’t earned a college degree yet.
Morales reenrolled at UTSA in 2020 during the height of the pandemic and chose to pivot and study business to follow in his brother’s footsteps. At first he was taking online courses since they were more convenient. Because of staffing shortages at VIA, he was working 55-60 hours a week.
“On the bus you are always on the go,” he said. “It is a fast-paced environment. You get used to it.”
He slowly transitioned to in-person classes, but continued to maintain his full-time job with VIA. A typical day for Morales would have him up early in the morning to work out, taking classes from 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m., then working from 5 p.m. to 1:40 a.m. The last two semesters he has taken 10 courses.
“I tried to be as active as I could. But my work schedule didn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. Finding a balance helped me,” said Morales, who also works as a background actor.
In addition to maintaining his academic studies and being named to the President’s List, Morales wanted to embrace campus life. He joined Phi Sigma Pi, a co-ed national honor fraternity and became active with the Society for Human Resources Management Student Chapter. He served as vice president of the organization this year.
“I was drawn to human resources because of Dr. Heather Staples,” said Morales, who is specializing in human resources. “Her excitement and enthusiasm captivated me. I wanted to make an impact, and I learned a lot about the field during my time with VIA.”
He also credits his mom for his interest in human resources. “My mom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and she has a big heart. I try to be compassionate like her, and HR lets me connect with people. Through my job I’ve also gained the ability to know how to deal with people, since we meet all types of personalities on our routes.”
Wrapping up his undergraduate career, Morales recently competed in the Texas SHRM Case Study Competition. He and his teammates finished second in the competition.
“I am extremely blessed to have such a great support system around me with my family and mentors,” he said. “It has been a real journey. I am trying to soak it all in. This is even more special since it took me so long.”
Excited for the future, Morales is currently pursuing job opportunities in the field of human resources. He has also contemplated staying at VIA and working in their HR department.
“UTSA has always been a beacon for me,” he said. “It was the only school I ever wanted to attend, and I’ve loved being a part of the community. UTSA is special to me. I feel like I can conquer anything now.”