Uvalde school shooting victim honored during Texas State University graduation

Faith Mata graduated with a degree in psychology on May 12, 2023.

San Marcos – There’s a palpable excitement in the air at Texas State University as hundreds of almost graduates eagerly await for their names to be called to get the diplomas they’ve worked so hard for.

“I told her ‘baby, if you can get through this year, there’s nothing stopping you. Nothing at all,’” Veronica Mata, mother to Faith and Tess, said.

The entire Mata family has just been getting through the year since they lost Tess last May.

“I know she had a really hard morning this morning, getting out of bed. So it was really hard not having her sister here,” Veronica said.

Tess’ picture filled her chair. The 10-year-old was killed nearly one year ago at Robb Elementary School.

Veronica and her husband Jerry held onto one another as they watched Faith be recognized for graduating college and making it through the unimaginable.

“Just a long time…I’m glad that it’s finally happening. She’s… I’m proud of her. You know, it took a lot of her, so I’m very proud of her,” Veronica said.

From Faith’s cap to her tassel and stole, you can see pieces of little Tess everywhere and feel her in the excitement of the moment Faith’s name is called to accept her diploma.

Her extended family, the loved ones of some of the other 21 victims, were there to cheer Faith on as she jumped into the river holding Tess’ photo.

“It feels bittersweet. I’m glad that I could be here with all of the people who were a part of my journey, though I’m missing Tess…it sucks, but I’m ready to jump into the future now,” Faith said.

On the day of her graduation, Faith said that her little sister visited her in her dream.

In her dream, Faith said Tess was older but still wearing her clear glasses and that Tess wanted Faith to know she was always there for her.

“I just like, I just felt comforted like I just know, like I just feel her all the time,” Faith said.

Faith has big plans for the future -- plans that were shaped in part by what she and her family went through this last year.

We’ll have that story and more tributes to the victims and survivors of the Robb tragedy on May 24, 2023, at 9 p.m. in an hour-long KSAT 12 News special we’re calling “One Year In Uvalde.”

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

Recommended Videos