Alumni Spotlight

Azizi Van Delden Wesmiller ‘01
Aziz dress uniform.jpg
Army Maj. Azizi Wesmiller ‘01 will serve
as reviewing officer at TMI’s Final Pass
in Review on April 30.

What brought you to TMI?
My father (Frank J. Van Delden) went to Peacock Military Academy and saw the value in an institution like TMI. It was about the structure, values and leadership offered in a school like this. (As a contractor with Van Delden Construction), he helped build TMI (at the present campus), working on the library. I was the third of four siblings who went to TMI and the only girl in the family. All of us (
Jeffrey
'93,
Darren
'95,
Azizi
‘01 and
Robert
‘03) were in JROTC from grade six to 12

Azizi flight suit.jpg
Azizi served in Iraq from 2007-2008 as a Blackhawk
helicopter pilot in a General Support Aviation Battalion.

What are some highlights of what you've done since graduation from TMI?
I went to college at St. Edward’s in Austin, majoring in criminal justice with a minor in business, Col. Coulter (then commandant of the TMI Corps of Cadets) said that since I’d enjoyed JROTC, I should try ROTC in college. I’d decided I wouldn’t pursue a career in the military, but I loved sports and being outdoors, so I signed up for ROTC and it quickly transitioned to a career. ROTC paid for my college; I was commissioned out of UT-Austin,and went to flight school at Fort Rucker and became a Blackhawk pilot. I did three years in Hawaii (Wheeler Army Airfield) in aviation and was XO (executive officer) for a flight batallion.

Azizi with Gen. Milley.JPG
As a legislative aide, Azizi worked with Gen. Mark Milley, worked in
the Pentagon from 2016-2017 with Gen. Mark Milley, then Chief of
Staff of the Army.

In what’s called a “broadening assignment,” I was a Department of Defense Congressional Fellow in Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office while she was chair of the Appropriations Committee. The Army sent me to George Washington University the year before for a master’s degree in Legislative Affairs the year before I worked on Capitol Hill ー all as an active-dury officer. After that I was an Army Congressional Budget Liaison and then worked as Legislative Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army (Gen. Mark Milley, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). I didn’t know a lot about Congress before that; it was another great switch! One of the highlights for me was briefing Sen. (John) McCain.

I’m now a Career Manager in the Human Resources Command, working with personnel issues, retirements and assignments, at Fort Knox, Ky.

Azizi and family.JPG

Please tell us about your family.
My husband Matthew and I were married in 2009. He went to West Point, and we met in flight school. Eighteen months later, we were married. We have three children, two girls and a boy ー Chase, who’s 7, Riley, 5, and James, 2.

What are your interests outside of work and family?
My passion is my profession and my family. I love travel, and I Iove sports ー TMI had a lot to do with that; I played volleyball, softball and basketball at TMI, and I’ve played in softball leagues and Ultimate Frisbee since then.

Do you have time to do any community service?
We have helped in our own way, mostly through church and through work...(the opportunity) changes quite often as we move through our assignments.

What were some of your favorite activities at TMI?
Hands down, the volleyball and softball teams were my favorite. I was in “Midsummer’s Night‘s Dream,” playing what I think was the Queen of the Fairies...and I learned I was not meant to be an actor. The unique advantage of TMI is that it offers an opportunity to try a bit of everything, I didn’t think I wanted to be in the military, but I joined JROTC and stayed in...ending up as Bravo Company commander in my senior year.

What are your strongest memories of your TMI years?
My father passed away (in 1997) while I was in high school, and my little brother was in middle school. TMI told students they could go to the funeral ー and 100 students were bused (to attend). (Members of) the Corps lined the walls of the church. It meant so much to me and my family.
Who were the teachers who most impressed you?
My top five were Mr. Jeanes, the only professor who could make me care about chemistry; Mr. Spencer, my basketball coach and mentor; English teacher Bob Bell, whose son
Daniel
was in our class, Coach Goertz; and Lt. Col. Coulter and Sgt. Maj. McGarity. Col. Coulter was the reason I tried ROTC in college ー I don’t think I would have, if he hadn’t cared so much for me as a person. That advice had a great impact on me my senior year; I most likely wouldn’t be in the Army without it.

Do you have a most memorable TMI moment?
Cleaning up after our senior prank: We glued all the locks shut in Coates Hall. Mrs. (Alex) Hernandez and Mrs. (Barbara) Zenner were somewhat understanding, but they made us clean it up. I thank God I got my rebellion out of the way early!

What is the most important lesson you learned at TMI?
Due to having to show up at formation, I learned at TMI that you don’t get be late. Once after I started driving, I (inadvertently) left my younger brother
Robert
(’03) at home. When I called my mother, she said I had to come home and get him. I never did that again!

What advice would you give current TMI students?
Try everything ー you have a unique opportunity to find out what you’re good at. I went to a leadership conference for high-school students from all over the United States to debate on policy issues. I didn’t know any of that and didn’t really understand politics but I looked it up and found out that it was interesting. When I think about TMI, I remember the values they instilled in us and how (the teachers and administrators) always heard us out. They encouraged 16- and 17-year-olds to make their own decisions, and it really mattered to us.

Army Maj. Azizi Wesmiller will serve as reviewing officer for Final Pass in Review as part of
Alumni Day, April 30.
To
RSVP
for this and other events of the day, click


Cori Kennedy Kurth ‘93

Kurth Cori and Olivia.jpg
Cori Kennedy Kurth and daughter Olivia ‘25
enjoy outdoor time together.
What brought you to TMI?
We toured TMI during the summer just before the beginning of my ninth-grade year. Cheryl Sanders, who was the Fine Arts director at the time, gave us the tour. I remember being very hesitant about it at first but quickly felt excited as she told me about all the opportunities for extracurricular activities, like theater and choir. I also have a distinct memory of walking into the Natatorium (swimming pool) and being amazed and again excited that I could do swim team.
What was it like being a faculty child?
My mother (longtime TMI science teacher Mary Kennedy) joined the faculty during my junior year. As far as what it was like being a faculty child, I don’t really remember. So it must have been OK. I do remember I was in her Environmental Science class one day when a boy in the class was such a troublemaker, and I felt embarrassed...so I decided to ask to be an office aide instead of taking that elective. Over the years, I have loved hearing from her students on whom she made a big impact and who loved her class so much.

Kurth Magdalena House.jpg

What are some highlights of what you've done since graduation from TMI?
I graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling from UTSA and went on to become a licensed professional counselor and supervisor. My career has primarily focused on the emotional and mental health of children and families, as well as working with grieving children after the death of a loved one. Since 2017, I have been the program director of Magdalena House in San Antonio. Magdalena House provides a safe, nurturing transitional home for mothers and children fleeing abusive situations while the mothers work to further their education and break cycles of violence and poverty. This work has been extremely rewarding to me, and I see it as more of a calling or vocation than a job. I also supervise associate counselors who are in clinical training to pursue full licensure.

Please tell us about your family.
My husband Brian and I have been married for 20 years. We have one child, Olivia, who is 13 years old and is an eighth grader at TMI, and two rescue dogs, Scout and Brady.

Kurth family outdoors.jpg
Cori, her husband Brian and daughter Olivia enjoy a vacation at Yellowstone
National Park.

What are your interests outside of work and family?
My family is my favorite interest so I’m including them in this! We love to travel, fly fish, hunt, swim, hang out with our neighbors, and go camping in our travel trailer. We love nature and have both a large vegetable garden that my mother manages and a butterfly garden. We are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio and enjoy being a part of that community. I joined the St. Mark’s Education for Ministry (EFM) class this year and have really enjoyed that.

Kurth fishing.jpg
Cori shows off a big brown trout caught on a fly-fishing trip
on a creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.

What were some of your favorite activities at TMI?
There were so many! Choir, drama, musical theater, swimming, cheerleading, softball. I loved that I got to participate in any activity I wanted, even if I was only mediocre at best! I also really loved the community service group I was in, Computer Chips. This was a group that went to Oak Meadow Elementary School and mentored kids in the Special Education classes. That was the best!

What are your strongest memories of your TMI years?
Some of my favorite memories were going to the FIne Arts festivals and our junior and senior retreats. I especially remember the ropes courses and the bridge at Mo Ranch! The plays and musicals are strong memories too ー we had such fun with the “Greater Tuna” production, and I loved “The Sound of Music,” which included students from all grades, including Middle School. I have such fond memories of my friends, other students, and teachers. I remember feeling like we were supported and encouraged to be ourselves.

Who are the TMI teachers who most impressed you?
Mr. Jeanes, Mrs. Koon, Mrs. Sanders, Mr. Moore, Mrs. Moore (not married to each other, but both great English teachers!), Mrs. Gray...the list goes on. I have always thought the faculty were outstanding. They challenged us but were so supportive and wanted to make sure we were prepared for college. They also were more than just teachers, they cared about who were as individuals and let us know they cared. I also loved Mrs. Hernandez and Mrs. Zenner; they were so wonderful!

What is the most important lesson you learned at TMI?
TMI taught me life lessons about the importance of values, integrity and character. Two big lessons learned were sportsmanship and servant leadership. We were taught to be gracious losers and gracious winners. Coach Laura Rodriguez as well as other coaches expected us to be courteous to our competitors and to each other. As far as servant leadership ー I don’t know that it was labeled as such when I was at TMI but it was definitely fostered and encouraged. I learned the importance of serving others, especially those in need and how rewarding it can be. I think that had a lot to do with the direction I went in my career.

What advice would you give current TMI students?
Seize opportunities! Get involved in things that you are interested in even if you think you might not be good at it, you never know what might be your thing.
Try not to be too hard on yourself, show grace to yourself and others. Most importantly, I encourage you to pay attention to the
and the yearly themes (
Love your neighbor,
2020-2021) that are highlighted at TMI. These things will truly take you far and pay off in both your personal and professional life.

Alumni behind Frost.jpg
Andy Reineck, from left, Cori Kennedy Kurth, Lara
Turner, Yolanda Moreno Hernandez and Greg Stryker
gather behind Frost Athletic Center at Homecoming
2018, 25 years after graduating.
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