When I first arrived at UT, I was convinced that my strategy to take over the world would consist of me majoring in both business and medicine. I worked toward getting into the McCombs School of Business, but I was the only person in my First-year Interest Group that didn’t make it in. I changed my mind about medicine right after I took my first biology and chemistry classes.
I decided to declare my first major, international relations and global studies, soon after returning from a transformative summer experience in Peru that I was able to do thanks to the UGS Summer Exploration Grant. There, I taught English to a large group of disadvantaged orphans. My time in Cuzco raised a lot of questions about the complex world we live in. My UGS advisor, Rose Mastrangelo, the best advisor I have ever known, suggested I look into international relations and global studies. I took on IRG as my first major, and then decided to declare a dual degree from the Moody College of Communication in corporate communication.
I wasn’t prepared for college. My first semester was a complete and utter nightmare. My GPA dipped to an all-time low. My morale crashed and I began to give up hope of ever getting into McCombs or even graduating from UT. I was able to pick myself back up, with the help and assistance of my advisor, a handful of caring professors, and the incredibly useful Sanger Learning Center. I didn’t go to business school, but now I am convinced that this has all been for a greater purpose.
Studying International Relations & Global Studies
The best thing about being an IRG student is the grand scale and vision it can implant into your life. I have noticed that many of the students in the IRG program are concerned with changing this world. Having those sort of ambitions at a young age is incredibly admirable, and being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded individuals of this sort has been a privilege for me.
My IRG major took me to one of France’s premier and most prestigious academic institutions, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. The contacts I made there are invaluable. Additionally, my major in corporate communication took me all the way to Singapore.
Favorite Study Spot: The Texas Union
I’m involved with UGS as a student ambassador and have been a part of several organizations at UT like the Distinguished Speakers Committee, the Liberal Arts Council, the Mexican American Culture Committee, the Japan Karate Association of Austin, the Latin Economic and Business Association, the International Affairs Society, the Longhorn Startup Program, and the University Hotel and Airline Association, which was an organization I founded with my friend, John Tillery.
During my first two years at UT I interned with the ACLU of Texas as a Legal Intern for the State Legal Director. My network at UGS helped me land a coveted executive internship with the CEO of Tocquigny, a leading marketing consultancy. Lastly, I interned at Equipboard, a tech start-up based out of Austin. I learned so much there and eventually realized that I have a calling for entrepreneurship.
I have been working hard at night and during the weekends with my roommate to get our tech project off the ground. We’re building an app that will make hanging out with friends easier. For now, I’m racing against time to create my own job, and perhaps a future company.
UGS Experience and Advice for Undecided Students
The School of Undergraduate Studies changed my life and enhanced my experience at UT. Had I gone straight to business school or simply focused on getting into medical school, I doubt I would have ever experienced everything I went through. Without UGS, I would have never received their generous Exploration Grant and, as a result, I would not have gone to Peru, Singapore, or Paris, and my internships probably would have never occurred. In short, UGS laid a strong foundation for what ended up being a transformative college experience.
I would advise undecided students to be yourself, be flexible, and trust your heart. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The professors, staff, administrators, and students on campus are pretty willing to help a Longhorn out. Lastly, get a head start. Begin networking the moment you set foot on campus. Join campus organizations and clubs. Reach out to professors or local community leaders and ask them questions about their careers. More importantly, ask for the big opportunities: when you’ve identified something you want, ask for it! Leverage your student and professional network so that you can fast track your career. Even if you’re a new freshman at UT, especially in UGS, go out there and make a name for yourself!