Spotlight Series: Leroy Ibarra

April 18, 2024

Marketing and Strategic Communications

It’s officially Fiesta season in San Antonio, which also means it’s time to collect fiesta medals. And for the hardcore medal fans, that can only mean one thing, it’s time to seek out the latest and greatest medals.

Palo Alto College’s official Fiesta® San Antonio event, PACfest, marks the occasion each year with the release of its own Fiesta medal, which is designed by a Palo Alto College employee.

Behind the scenes, Leroy Ibarra is the College’s Digital Communications Coordinator. Many people don’t know that Ibarra is also a visionary artist who has been shaping the aesthetic landscape of the PACfest Fiesta Medals since 2014. This year, he is celebrating his tenth medal design.



“I’ve lived in San Antonio all my life, so I was familiar with Fiesta and knew what the medals represented as a part of the Fiesta events. But it was unexpected to find out I’d be designing a medal as part of my job,” said Ibarra.

Ibarra’s journey from medal design newcomer to PACfest branding architect has taught him a thing or two about perfecting that shiny piece of bling PACfest attendees of all ages have come to know and love.

As with all new experiences, this one came with a learning curve. When Ibarra took on his first design, he was more concerned about the technicalities because he didn’t know everything involved. After submitting his initial design for production, he found that certain details in the artwork did not translate well into the chosen medium. So, he had to remove some of the details to ensure that the final product met the desired standards.

“We’re in a unique situation where we create a medal but also a poster, which we use during our PACfest Unveiling event,” Ibarra said. “I have two things to think about. The poster should be detailed and colorful, but options with the medal are more limited. I try to keep some of those elements, but I need to transfer this into a wearable object eventually, so I try to begin with the medal in mind.”

Each medal design is a labor of love, meticulously crafted to capture the essence of San Antonio’s cultural heritage while adding a distinct PAC flair.


The PACfest 2024 Fiesta medal design is a Tree of Life blending a style found in Mexican folk art that is typically crafted using molded clay. As you follow the "tree" from its base to its top, you'll discover a variety of figurines and intricate details that blend together to tell a story. The PAC Workforce Tree of Life represents hope through education. This design highlights new programs at Palo Alto College: Viticulture & Enology, Advanced Manufacturing, Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Welding, and Logistics.

“Each design is special, but my favorite has always been the 2018 medal, the accordion. It was a departure from my previous medals because I worked on the medal first,” Ibarra said. “I created something more mechanical and interactive. The accordion opens and reveals the PACfest logo.”

Growing up surrounded by the colorful mosaic of Mexican art and the majestic architecture of San Antonio missions, Ibarra’s creative essence was nurtured by the very fabric of his community. 

“I’ve watched my community change throughout the years. I like the familiarity of home,” Ibarra said. “Family and get-togethers are easy because everyone is close by. I take inspiration from places around town, talking to people, and seeing different shapes or cultural items.” 

Beyond the accolades and celebrations, Ibarra remains humble, attributing his success to the unwavering support of his community and the endless well of inspiration drawn from his surroundings. Every design is a tribute to the vibrant tapestry of San Antonio’s cultural landscape, a homage to the South Side that shaped him into the artist he is today.

Ibarra’s latest PACfest 2024 Fiesta medal design is a finalist in the San Antonio Business Journal Fiesta Medal Contest’s governmental and educational entities category. To cast your vote, click here and enter “Palo Alto College.”