Brookhaven alumna honored with lifetime achievement award

Baylen Bonner, Associate Layout Editor

Suzette Vaquera has dedicated more than 20 years to assisting some of the best and brightest of North Texas reach their academic dreams. Vaquera, a college recruitment and outreach coordinator for Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, was honored for her work with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Dallas Independent School District’s Parent Teacher Association.

The award serves to recognize and honor Vaquera’s long-standing history in increasing educational accessibility, opportunities and resources for students. 

In addition to being a distinguished alumna, Vaquera was also among the first group of students to attend Brookhaven College when it opened its doors in 1978. 

After graduating from Brookhaven in 1980 with an associate degree in arts and sciences, business management, and marketing and related support services, she transferred to The University of Texas at Austin. Vaquera completed her education at The University of Texas at Arlington graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1983.While some attend community college to transfer and never look back, Vaquera said she believes her time at Brookhaven helped shape her. 

Vaquera, like many students, juggled a full schedule while working and participating in the tennis team at Brookhaven. “As an alum, I feel the school really provided what I needed educationally and socially to grow,” Vaquera said.

Brookhaven alumna and daughter of Vaquera, Sophia Constantine, said her mother “believed higher education would prepare me for a career, for success and for the world.”

Constantine said her mother has always been proud to have graduated from Brookhaven. 

She said she believes her mother’s firsthand experience gives her a unique connection to current students. “She has stood in their shoes,” Constantine said. 

Vaquera is not only a visible presence on the Brookhaven Campus, but also within her community. She is a motivating force to those all around her. 

“She is one of the biggest reasons I have been able to find success at Brookhaven,” Mykel Hilliard, multimedia editor for The Courier, said.

Hilliard, like many students, has known Vaquera since he was in elementary school and credits having her in his corner to his successful transition at Brookhaven.

When Hillard struggled to find his place on campus, Vaquera encouraged him to break out of his shell and become more involved in campus activities. 

“She encouraged me to join The Brookhaven Courier and that changed the trajectory of my life,” Hillard said.

Vaquera said she has found fulfillment in seeing students such as Hilliard flourish academically and grow confident in what they can achieve. 

“Now, look at him today,” Vaquera said of Hilliard’s success. “That’s what I call joy.”