Volunteerism is no stranger to the James Avery family, and Tracy Avery is no exception. As a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word, Avery earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion management and design in 1996. She credits UIW with preparing her for a lifetime of service to her community.
“Community service hours and classes with diverse groups of people, prepared me for all facets of life outside of UIW,” explained Avery. “Learning how to interact with others outside my peer group and volunteering for organizations and people in need helped to prepare me to take on different challenges and work with diverse groups in the business world.”
While at Incarnate Word, Avery was an active member of Fashion Advisory Board. It was exciting to participate and learn how a board works and guides an organization and also inspiring to see how active the alumni in the group were and how the community supported, cared and were concerned about what UIW taught the students in order to prepare them for the real world.
As a fashion major, Avery enjoyed her design lab classes the most. They were comprised of small groups that knew each other well. While each person was working on their own creation you could still get the help or input from others, laugh, joke, play pranks, and provide support for each other while working in the labs. Avery remembers that there was also a lot of freedom to work at your own pace, but still be part of a group.
Avery has two professors that she still keeps in touch with after all these years, Dr. Annemarie Walsh and Mrs. Esther Gabrysh. They are both retired now but are still passionate about what they did as educators. They taught from their real life experiences. They were realistic about what students could expect in the professional world, while still encouraging their dreams.
Avery’s fondest memories are with the friends that she made in college. The friendships would not have happened if they had not been in small classes, where they could really interact and get to know each other.
“We may not talk every day or even every month and have lived in different cities, states and countries from each other, but when we do get together we are able to pick up just where we left off,” Avery said. “They have supported me throughout my career and life outside of UIW over the years.”
Avery’s advice to current students and recent graduates is “to be sure that all the work you put into getting your degree continues to increase in value over the years and promote what you have to offer, plan to come back to UIW to give of your time and funds, so that future students can benefit from your experiences at UIW, the way you benefited from others when you were a student.”
Avery cherishes the partnerships she has made as a student and realizes they don't end when you graduate. She has made lasting relationships and has chosen to give back to UIW. She currently serves on the UIW Alumni Association Board of Directors and chairs the Phonathon Committee. Avery continues to live the mission of service to UIW and to her community.