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May 2023

San Antonio grad building in new career

Sara Aranda is no stranger to hard work. As the youngest child in her family growing up in Lubbock, she recalls helping in her family’s tortilla factory and restaurant when barely old enough to see over the counter. But nowadays, the Wayland alumnus in business for herself in the construction industry, primarily serving government contracts in her hometown of San Antonio and beyond.

Sara’s interaction with Wayland came at the campus in the Alamo City, squeezing her coursework inSara Aranda business around a full-time job in civil service at Kelly Air Logistics Center. She heard of the school from a fellow student who was in the Navy and encouraged her to check out the flexible campus.

“I remember Mr. Copeland taught algebra, and I would cry every time the class met. My husband Rocky is really good at math but I just didn’t get it. Mr. Copeland would sit with me and explain it all to me,” she recalls. “I already had two kids and worked shift work at nights. I had to sneak in a nap wherever I could and get ready for class at 5:30. I did that for almost 12 years, just taking a few classes per term.”

Sara earned her Wayland degree in 2005, then continued in her civil service job while advancing through the years in human resources. In 2017, she retired from civil service after almost 34 years to care for her ailing mother. After a year, she decided it was time for the second chapter of her career and followed her husband into the construction world.

Due to his own success, Rocky was certain that his wife could experience the same and encouraged her to start her own construction business when she was ready for a new adventure. She started Firstop General Contracting LLC in 2018 and decided to focus on municipal and federal projects. Sara said it’s been a different experience for sure.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way that some owners aren’t willing to do and that has helped me. I have learned to keep good records and make sure I have a business relationship with my vendors,” she said. “My projects are construction as well: renovations, tear-downs, site clean-outs, etc. We also have a signage contract for a large apartment complex here, providing evacuation signs and wayfinding signage in the hallways.”

They may share a house, several children and even grandchildren, but the Arandas run their

Sara project
One of Sara's projects

businesses separately. Different names, different offices and different work. But that doesn’t mean they don’t share wisdom and help each other from time to time.

In the last 10 years, federal contracts have opened more and more for women-owned businesses, especially those owned by minorities. Sara qualifies uniquely for those, helping her earn that important performance credits needed to earn future projects as a contractor.

Sara finds her job – and being self-employed – rewarding for different reasons. She enjoys the creativity of finding various options for clients’ projects to keep them within their budget and ensure their satisfaction. She also likes to share the wisdom she’s learned and help others who are new in the business as she was once.

Sara has come a long way from the young girl whose family packed all their belongings in a station wagon and traveled across the state to Laredo to start their lives over when their restaurant was destroyed by the Lubbock tornado. And while a construction company is not the traditional choice for a woman, Sara said it’s no real surprise.

“I was more of a tomboy growing up and was always helping my dad fix things and hold tools for him,” she laughed. “I was in an office for 33 years and I still miss it sometimes. But being outside and active is good.” 


Alumnus blesses baseball with endowment

Brandon Inman still remembers the playoff game where a Wayland coach visited and saw him play baseball. His Childress team was playing in Floydada, and Brandon figures he must have had a good enough game to pique the interest of WBU staff. They soon recruited him to join the Pioneer Squad.

“When I visited the campus and saw the Hutch, I remember seeing all of the track and Flying Queens championship banners, thinking, ‘this school is committed to excellence,’” he says. He was

Brandon Inman
Alumnus Brandon Inman

sold, and that fall became part of the athletic tradition at Wayland.

While here, he found mentors in professors like Dr. Ben Akande in the School of Business, whom he said “made the biggest impact on me scholastically, along with giving me plenty of life lessons. I am beyond grateful for his mentorship.” Brandon also loved the accessibility of faculty members when he needed that extra assistance in his academic journey.

Four years later, Brandon had a Bachelor of Business Administration degree under his belt and a rich experience as a student-athlete in a program that had only been going for a few years before he arrived. He got a job with Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Plainview as an area manager just before graduation and then transferred to Pauls Valley, Okla., to open the 10th Wal-Mart grocery distribution center.

Over the years, Brandon has used his degree for careers in investments and financial services, opening his own practice in Wichita Falls and then a second location in Lubbock. After selling the business, Brandon hired on with State Farm Insurance as a financial consultant for the West Texas territory, then got the chance to take over an agency in Monahans, Texas, in 2011. The business has grown significantly since, and the Inmans have a branch agency in Pecos, Texas, as well. His Wayland education has played a great role.

“The education I received at Wayland fully prepared me for the business world. I still use skills from Business Communications daily, as well as from economics and investments,” said Brandon. “The Christian setting for a young adult going through college was structure that I was glad to have on my side.”

As 2022 wrapped up, Brandon and wife Amy finished an endowment to benefit the Pioneer Baseball program that he so enjoyed as a student. The Baseball Excellence Fund will provide interest annually to meet whatever program needs the coaches deem valuable.

“I started this to help Coach Bass, who I have the deepest respect for, and the Wayland program to be as competitive as possible,” noted Brandon. “There have been many positive advancements over the years in both scholarships and facilities, so the needs of the program have changed. Having a designated place for others to give to meet the ongoing needs of the program was my goal for the endowment fund.”

Wayland named Brandon a Distinguished Alumni Award winner in 2019.


Devotional: Success defined in God's way

Psalm 25:1-5 says:

"In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lordteach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

How would you define success? Though much of the world considers power and prosperity to be theSuccess highest of goals, God desires a different yearning in His children.

From the Lord’s standpoint, success means walking in His way. The Bible asks, “What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?” (Deuteronomy 10:12). As the Holy Spirit reveals God’s heart to us, we have the opportunity to obey and follow our Father. Beyond pleasing Him, there are many benefits to walking in His way.

First, we develop a closer relationship with the Lord. When we seek Him, He enlarges our ability to understand His ways (Jeremiah 29:13). Second, we gain a rich prayer life. Third, we begin to see things from His perspective. Fourth, we have more patience and find it easier to wait for His timing. Fifth, when we face adversity, we are increasingly stable and steadfast. Finally, we impact others—all the benefits listed above will be evident to those around us.


In the Mix

What does “external student” mean? This is a student studying outside the university at which they have matriculated and from which they expect to receive a degree. By the 1970s, Wayland began expanding its reach, beginning by offering courses to law enforcement in Lubbock in 1972. Wayland opened its first official external campus in Wichita Falls in 1974, Amarillo in 1976 and Hawaii in 1979. Wayland also reached out to non-traditional, full-time adult learners by offering a Bachelor of

San Antonio graduates
San Antonio graduates

Science in Occupational Education (which later became the Bachelor of Applied Science) degree in 1973.

Wayland Baptist University - San Antonio has been serving the higher educational needs of San Antonio and South Texas since 1984 as part of Wayland's non-traditional degree programs. Wayland Baptist University - Anchorage was established in 1985 with 12 students and has seen consistent growth.

As a WBU External Student Alumnus, you have the opportunity to not only tell your story to others but also to develop networking opportunities to give back to your alma mater, in your area. You are very valuable to the 60,000+ alumni that are all over the nation, and we would like to hear your story on how as an external student WBU created a journey for you.

With a focus on the adult learner and a commitment to the University's mission of educating students in an academically challenging and distinctively Christian environment, Wayland is continuing to help rewrite futures. If you are an alumnus from one of our external campuses, we would like to know about your experience.  Please email our Director of Alumni Relations and Career Services, Jeffrey Vera, at veraj@wbu.edu.