Corporate Communication Studies, Government Minor
DFW Corps 2019
I interviewed Steven Santoyo while he manned the Duren Residence Hall Desk on a Saturday night. Not his shift of choice, but one he managed to do cheerfully. Usually, when you interview someone, you have to rely solely on words to learn about them. But our on-the-job interview gave me the chance to see Steven in his element — he chatted with everyone who came in, went beyond general RA duties to make sure anyone who had a problem got help, and was obviously the go-to leader when the other RA’s had questions.
After one friendly chat with a resident stopping by on her way up to the dorms, he casually mentioned, “The girl you saw just talking to me is from San Antonio. She’s in Type Texas, too.”
One of Steven’s many campus involvements, and the accomplishment that he points to as the most important part of his undergraduate legacy, is the founding of Type Texas. The UT Chapter of the College Diabetes Network (CDN), was born out of a personal tragedy. “I got a phone call over spring break of freshman year,” he said. “I was about to celebrate 5 years living with Type 1 diabetes and found out a high school friend of mine, who also had type 1, passed away.”
Steven built Type Texas in honor and memory of his friend, Kayce. "You never expect to lose someone so close to you and at such a young age, let alone because of an autoimmune disorder you both shared," Steven said. Supported by The College Diabetes Network in Boston, MA, Type Texas exists at UT-Austin to "connect, inspire and empower" individuals in Austin living with Type-1 Diabetes.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes has shaped Steven’s own life in a number of ways, after his diagnosis in 8th grade, he felt a shift in his priorities. “I kind of had to really grow up faster than most young people do,” he said. "Type-1 Diabetes (T1D) is a lot of work. Everyday children, young adults, and adults with T1D must be very careful with how they choose to take care of themselves. It's truly an invisible illness that can take a turn at any moment, with the potential of becoming fatal in some instances."
Today, Type Texas has over 50 members and actively works to recruit and support its members as well as breakdown the stereotypes that often surround Type 1 diabetes. In a lot of ways, his work with Type Texas has shaped Steven’s priorities when it comes to education about any topic. “It takes experience through representation to break down piece by piece these societal injustices or constructions that we build and think of ourselves in,” Steven said.
Representation is something Steven is excited to bring to his own classroom next year. Teaching in Dallas will be a homecoming for Steven, who is a proud product of Dallas ISD schools and first-generation college student. “When I was going to school my best teachers were all female, and they were all fantastic, but I want to be that male role model for my students.”
Going into DISD as a Middle School Generalist, Steven doesn’t know exactly what he’ll be teaching yet, but he knows what message he wants his kids to leave with. “‘I believe in you,’ those words can change a kid’s life,” he said. “I was very lucky. I got that message from my parents and from my coaches and public school teachers, and I think maybe that was the difference for me. I want to give that message to the kids I teach.”
As for why he’s doing Teach For America now, Steven has a very clear vision about the kind of impact he’ll have. “Teachers are what this country needs right now, especially given the polarization and politics currently at play in our country," he said. “Students need positive influences, and while there’s not a perfect leader or recipe for leadership, I believe TFA can give students what they need.”