Skip to Content

Pathway to Graduate School

Students in a lab
Student smiling at another student
Students standing outside


Pathway to Graduate School is a virtual panel discussion aimed at supporting students who have an interest in pursuing graduate school. This panel discussion will cover the benefits of attending graduate school and how the experience can help students achieve their goals.

Outstanding mentors will address key topics related to graduate school, provide advice, and answer questions from audience members. These inspirational speakers will also share their success stories and discuss the influence of intersectional identities and how they overcame challenges in their journey through graduate school.

This event is organized by The Graduate College and co-sponsored by Institutional Inclusive Excellence - Student Initiatives and the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

Spring Event: February 16, from 1 - 2:30 p.m.

Spring 2022 Panelists

Panelist Liz Castaneda

Liz Castañeda

Liz Castañeda serves as Director for the Talent Search-Austin Program (TRIO) at Texas State University. Since joining the Texas State University staff in 2010, Ms. Castañeda has served in multiple capacities within Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and University Administration. Liz is an active community leader and has a love for people and culture, and is dedicated to dismantling structures of oppression that prevent human potential from thriving. She is an alum of Texas State University and holds a BSW and MSW with a concentration in Administrative Leadership from Texas State University. She is currently working on obtaining her PhD in Adult, Professional, and Community Education at Texas State University, and her (research) interests include higher ed access and success, advancing social justice issues, Latina/Chicana identity formation, and community development and engagement as a public pedagogy. A proud product of the labor camps of South Florida and the colonias of South Texas, Liz’s experiences remain at the forefront of her work and guide her passion of being of service to others.

Panelist Alyssa Garza

Alyssa Garza

Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, Alyssa Garza earned an M.A in Sociology and a B.S in Applied Sociology from Texas State University. Her most cherished memories at TXST are of her time spent as staff member at the Center for Diversity and Gender Studies (2013-2018). Although she is no longer staff at TXST, she mentors several students every semester. She now serves as the community outreach director at Mano Amiga, a local non-profit focused on immigration and criminal justice reform. She organizes educational programming and manages direct-aid outreach for those impacted by immigration and incarceration. Alyssa is an expert at developing community partnerships. She is well-known and praised among the Hays County community for her unique approach to outreach and engagement and “boots on the ground” approach. A testament to the trust she has established within the community, she won a landslide victory (71.43% of the vote) against an incumbent candidate in the race for San Marcos City Council Place 3 in November of 2020. She has developed working relationships with many community leaders, elected and otherwise, and has worked diligently to engage them in the movement for justice and liberation.

Panelist Marcus Mercer

Marcus Mercer

Marcus Mercer is a 2008 graduate of Texas State University where he received a B.S. in Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. While operating as a Director within Sodalis Senior Living, he also received a M.S. in Dementia and Aging Studies at Texas State. He’s a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Honor Society and has served various roles within Texas Recreation and Parks Society (Board member, legislative task force, DEI task force, & Academy of Leadership). Currently, Marcus is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and Director at the Marbridge Foundation. In keeping a foot in the door at his alma mater, Marcus is a lecturer and serves on the Texas State Recreation Administration Program Advisory Council. His wife, Janette, is an Associate Director of Human Resources within Housing and Dining at The University of Texas at Austin. Together, they have three children Mariah, Macie, & Jaxon.

Panelist Dr. Nico SchulerDr. Nico Schüler

Nico Schüler, Ph.D., is University Distinguished Professor of Music Theory and Musicology at Texas State University and the immediate past-president of the American Musicological Society Southwest Chapter. His main research interests are interdisciplinary aspects of 19th/20th/21st century (world) musics, methodology of music research, computer applications in music research, music theory pedagogy, and music historiography. He is the editor of the international research book series Methodology of Music Research, the author and / or editor of 21 books, and the author of more than 120 articles. Dr. Schüler enjoys mentoring students, who over the years have, under his direct supervision, received prestigious scholarships and fellowships, published more than 100 articles and book chapters, and gave more than 150 presentations at regional, national, and international conferences. E-Mail:

Panelist Dr. Jasmine Austin

Moderator: Dr. Jasmine Austin

Dr. Jasmine Austin describes herself as a scholar-activist who uses research and teaching to discuss topics of social (in)justice, advocacy, decentering colonialism, and (re)centering blackness and marginalized identities. Dr. Austin's Ph.D. is in Organizational and Race Communication Studies, and she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas State University.

The youngest of three, Dr. Austin was raised by her parents in Carencro, Louisiana. She played college volleyball and soccer at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, then earned a master's degree at the University of Wyoming. Before earning a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, she played for the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team. Dr. Austin has a passion for self-care, hiking, paddle boarding, roller skating, and spoken word poetry! Her favorite quote is by Amanda Gorman, "There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it." This quote is particularly meaningful to her because her mom always encouraged her to "Let it shine."

This event is a new initiative organized by The Graduate College and co-sponsored by Institutional Inclusive Excellence, in collaboration with the Dean of Students Office - Fraternity and Sorority Life and the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

  If you require accommodations due to a disability in order to participate, please contact 512.245.2281 at least 72 hours in advance of the event.

  Texas State is a tobacco-free campus.