College Graduates 2020: Anthony Saldivar

SAC graduate, Army veteran finds purpose by making the deceased look alive

SAN ANTONIO – A passion to create lead a Purple Heart Army veteran to Hollywood and now to San Antonio. Anthony Saldivar is a single father whose life has been driven by a passion to serve others.

Saldivar served in the Army for 20 years in which he completed three combat tours.

“I’ve been shot twice,” Saldivar said. “I’ve got 67 jumps, and each one of those events was extremely challenging to overcome and complete.”

After retiring from his life in the military, Saldivar headed to the City of Angels to explore other interests.

“I will confess, my first love are monsters,” Saldivar said. “I’m a child of the 80′s, and the horror generation is a part of my life. I had no idea that, the passion would turn into a career.”

Saldivar became a special effects makeup artist.

“This was the one career I knew that had always been in the back of my mind because it was a dream,” Saldivar said.

He mastered different mediums in the world of makeup including working with prosthetics, airbrushing and even beauty makeup.

“I’m an infantry man. I had no business knowing what taupe was, but I do now,” Saldivar said.

Years later, the San Antonio native decided it was time to come back home. Saldivar applied to San Antonio College’s Mortuary Science Department.

“I like to say I get a chance to make the the dead look alive and alive, look dead,” Salvidar said. “I knew that everything that I learned in school, I would be able to transfer over into body restoration (to make) someone that a family has lost, viewable for them.”

Salvidar said a career in mortuary science is much more than just embalmments. They must also learn about the different needs family’s may require for funeral arrangements.

“That would be simply religion, how the religions tie into the funeral industry as well as being able to provide the type of interment a family would want. Whether it’s burial or cremation,” Saldivar said.

Lessons he’s grateful to have received from his professors that, according to Saldivar, helped keep him focused and optimistic.

“I’m the first person from any of my family to graduate college so, I had nothing to compare it to. This was extremely difficult and challenging,” Saldivar said.

During his time enrolled at SAC, Saldivar earned a spot as an intern in the city’s Southside with Puente and Son Funeral Chapels. There, he was able to make his passion into a career to provide peace for families in mourning.

“One thing I’ve learned in this business is that funerals are for the living,” Saldivar said. “It’s always about, ‘What can I do for the families here in San Antonio that (are) sitting in front of me (to) give them just a few more moments of peace as they say goodbye?’”

His work at the local funeral home was recognized with a job offer.

Saldivar said mortuary science is a vocation that also allows him to channel any negative energy he may still carry from his days in the military.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever done in my life,” Saldivar said. “I hope that if there are any men or women, whether young or more advanced in their age, (they) would choose to come here (to San Antonio College), because this definitely fulfills something in me that I have no words for.”

Salvidar said he’s close to completing the state’s requirement of embalmments and funerals to become officially licensed.

Saldivar is eager for San Antonio College’s commencement ceremony that has been pushed back to the fall of this year due to COVID-19.

For more information on SAC’s Mortuary Science Department, click here.

About the Authors

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

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