Alumni and staff member Anthony Vazquez is what you might call a UNT super fan.
Visitors to his office in Student Support Services will find it covered in UNT memorabilia that he has spent the past five years collecting.
On top of that, Vazquez has missed only one home football game in the past 10 years and, according to him, it was a bad one to miss.
“It was Lance Dunbar's (UNT's all-time leading rusher, who went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys) last game, and he had a monster game,” Vazquez says. “After that I vowed not to miss another one.”
Vazquez, who was a first-generation college student, is a program project specialist for UNT's TRIO Programs. He earned a bachelor's degree in social work in 2012 and a master's degree in higher education in 2016.
But the Denton native essentially grew up on campus since his mother worked for UNT, first in West Hall and then in the University Union for Dining Services.
“I would come up here and end up playing arcade games with the college kids and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world,” Vazquez says. “There was never any question in my mind that I would attend UNT. I grew up here.”
As a student, Vazquez spent two years in the UNT Green Brigade playing clarinet.
“I really learned the traditions and grew my school spirit through my participation in band,” he says.
Vazquez says he loves being here to watch how much the campus has changed through the years.
“The school spirit has definitely grown with students, faculty and staff and it is cool to be a part of that,” he says.
After graduating in 2012, Vazquez became a full-time staff member in Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. After that he worked as an academic advisor in the College of Health and Public Service before transferring to his current position in May.
“This job is perfect for me because I was a TRIO student, and now I get to support other first-generation students like myself,” he says. Vazquez started his impressive UNT memorabilia collection in 2013 with the purchase of some mini football helmets.
Vazquez says he was inspired to start collecting by his friend, mentor and role model, the late Rodney Mitchell, who served as UNT associate dean of students and had a vintage Mean Green football helmet in his office.
After the mini helmets, Vazquez found a helmet on eBay worn during the 2013 game at which UNT beat Rice to become bowl eligible. Through the years he has expanded his collection with pennants, a Lucky the squirrel plush, a life-size Scrappy cutout, dining hall trays, an old UNT clock and more.
“It's a great way to show school spirit, and it makes for a welcoming and fun environment for students who come to my office,” Vazquez adds.
And his collection is far from complete.
“I am always looking to find unique, vintage and rare UNT memorabilia to add more to my spirit collection,” he says.
When asked to name his favorite piece, Vazquez doesn't hesitate, “My diplomas!”
Vazquez says the items in his collection, particularly his diplomas and class ring, represent everything that he has worked hard for in his life.
“I will always cherish them for the memories and experiences they provided throughout the journey,” he says.
Asked to describe UNT in one-word Vazquez simply says, “Home.”
Do you have a UNT memorabilia collection of your own? Send a pic to InHouse by Nov. 9 and you could win a UNT prize pack full of items to add to your collection!