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Roberto Curci, Ph.D. in Business Administration ‘99

Where are you originally from?

Colombia.

What are you doing now?

I am currently working at the College of Business at Butler University. My position is Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs and Eugene Ratliff Endowed Chair Professor of Finance.

What are your career goals?

To become an outstanding academic leader and to design and implement academic programs that provide superior value to students, industry, and other university stakeholders.

To exhibit superior commitment to diversity and to facilitate the integration of individuals and institutions into the mainstream U.S. society and to the rest of the world.

What has your UTPA graduate education done for you?

I will always appreciate the opportunity UTPA offered me to work during my doctoral studies with outstanding and committed faculty members. My professors provided me the proper training in the scientific research process and also made it easy for me to understand the literature within my chosen field of specialization. The doctoral program at UTPA prepared me tremendously to become a faculty member with a deeply commitment to superior teaching research.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?

My UTPA experience was outstanding. My learning took place not only through exceptional interactions with faculty members, staff, and administrators but also through engagements with a very diverse group of Ph.D. students who broadly represented the world. My experience at UTPA was unique.

Best tip for success?

Work hard, be nice, and don’t create mental limits; try your best and shoot as high as possible.

Do you have any advice for prospective graduate students?

The long-term return on your investment will be positively correlated to the time and energy you put into it. Be prepared to work hard and to go the extra mile.

Check out last week’s profile HERE.

Berenice Martinez, Master in Arts in Experimental Psychology ’11

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Brownsville, Texas. I lived in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico until the age of 10. At 10 years old, my family moved to Mercedes, Texas where I currently live.

What are you doing now?

I am a current employee at the Rio Grande State Center developing the role of Behavior Analyst as part of the Psychology Department. As a Behavior Analyst, my role is to run, train, and develop Structural and Functional Assessments in conjunction with Positive Behavior Support Plans. These plans and assessments provide detailed information including prevention, teaching, and dealing with problem behavior strategies for severe problem behaviors with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

You received a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Success Scholarship while at UTPA. How has the scholarship impacted your life?

Being a recipient of the STEM scholarship provided me with limitless opportunities regarding my graduate degree. Thanks to the STEM scholarship I was able to conclude my graduate studies in Experimental Psychology with a concentration in Behavior Analysis. The scholarship relieved me of any financial expenses, which at the time represented barriers to the acquisition of my dreams.

What are your career goals?

Some of my career goals include expanding the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in our region. There is a need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) in our region as there are many individuals who require behavior therapy for their current challenging behaviors. Additionally, I plan on publishing several of the behavioral procedures that we have implemented in our field which have resulted in immediate success.

What advice would you give to future graduate students?

My advice to future graduate students is to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that UTPA has to offer. Take as many courses as you can, participate in internships and attend job fairs. Good networking connections are established early on in your career and they can take you a long way. Participate in research opportunities and get involved in any of the social and learning communities established in UTPA. Your university experience and all of the opportunities it conveys only happen once in a lifetime!

Check out last week’s profile HERE.

Samuel Morin Jr., Master in Science in Information Technology ‘10

Where are you originally from?

Houston and Mission, Texas and currently living in San Antonio, Texas

What are you doing now?

I’m a Software Engineering Associate Manager at Accenture Federal Services. Accenture Federal Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Accenture LLP, delivers federal solutions that help our clients seize opportunities amid significant challenges and change.

You received a STEM Success Scholarship at UTPA – how did it enhance your academic or professional career?

The STEM scholarship allowed me to focus on learning and applying my studies into my profession. Without the STEM scholarship, my graduate career would have been more heavily focused on the financial impact instead of what being a graduate student entails. Furthermore, the STEM scholarship gave me the opportunity to finish my graduate degree in a year and a half instead of two-to-three years if I had paid for tuition myself.

Professionally, the STEM scholarship has opened doors to opportunities and industries that always seemed out of reach. It has greatly enhanced my career and I am grateful for the STEM scholarship for allowing me that opportunity.

What are your career goals?

My goal is to become the CIO of a global technology firm. I am on track to do so within the next 10 years.

What has your UTPA graduate education done for you?

UTPA Graduate School was an enriching experience that has exposed me to cutting edge technology that I use on a daily basis. The education was top notch and the faculty was world class.

What advice would you give to future graduate students?

Overcome and dismiss the feeling that you do not belong or that others are smarter than you. The imposter syndrome among new graduate students is very common, even with the best and the brightest students. If you are a graduate student, that is because YOU earned it.

 

Check out last week’s profile HERE.

Sergio Palacios, Master in Business Administration ‘08

Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico

What are you doing now?

I am currently pursing my doctoral degree at New Mexico State University.

What has your education done for you?

My education opened the doors to great opportunities, such as being able to pursue my dream of being an academic. My MBA allowed me to teach Operations and Supply Chain Management at New Mexico State University.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?

Thanks to my graduate degree from UTPA, I was fortunate to learn from the best about topics that I really care about. Dr. Hale Kaynak provided such a great MBA Operations Management class, which helped me decide that a Ph.D. in Operations and Supply Chain Management was the right choice for me. Thanks to her and to the rest of the faculty from the College of Business, I was able to continue following my dream.

My experience at UTPA was great for me and it is in a wonderful location. As a Mexican national, I was always very close to my home. I was able to learn a great deal during my year and a half as an MBA student. I polished my writing skills through the writing center; I learned how to do research with the help of the library and my professors; I developed my professional network, and made excellent friends. UTPA provided great service opportunities. I volunteered as the MBA-Association President, and became an active board member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). UTPA provides a great learning atmosphere in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, very close to Mexico.

What is your best tip for success?

Invest in your education. Believe in yourself!

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

College is a wonderful time in your life. Make the right choices based on what you believe is good for you. Take good care of yourself, include exercise and healthy eating in your life. You will thank yourself in the future. Remember that you are investing in yourself; education will allow you to get better opportunities in your professional career. Never stop learning!

Check out last week’s Profile in Excellence HERE

Hey Broncs!

Please join us from August 12 through August 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and

August 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UTPA Student Union for this year’s Teaching Academy Boot Camp.

Learn about classroom managements tips, mock classroom scenarios and much more!

Be sure to register here for this FREE event.

We hope to see you there!

 

Sirisha Koneti

Master of Science in Computer Science ‘13

Where are you originally from?

India.

What are you doing now?

I got a great job opportunity to work with CISCO as a Software Developer, where I can use my knowledge and skills acquired from my degree.

What has your UTPA graduate education done for you?

I’ve gained the technical and interpersonal skills needed to grow in my career and fulfill my dreams.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?

It was a great learning experience at UTPA. It boosted my confidence and made me into the person I am today.

What contributed to your success?

Hard work and dedication, along with the support and guidance I received from the faculty and staff while I was doing my graduate assistantship.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

Focus on your goals and work hard to achieve them.

Check out last week’s Profile in Excellence HERE

Ashok Reddy

Master in Computer Science ‘12

Where are you originally from?

India.

What are you doing now?

I work as the Oracle Apps Database Administrator for Ingersoll Rand in Davison, North Carolina.

What are your plans now that you have graduated?

I am looking to learn more and contribute to my area of expertise.

What has your UTPA graduate education done for you?

At UTPA, I learned more than just the content! It was about making me explore and immerse myself in technology.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?

I am proud to say that I have graduated from UTPA. I have never felt such friendly vibes anywhere else. Education wise, the rate at which the university is growing shows the value.

What is your best tip for success?

Work hard.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

Have fun and learn things UTPA style.

 

Check out last week’s Profile in Excellence with Violeta Diaz HERE.

Violeta Diaz

Ph.D. in Business Administration ‘11

What are you doing now?
I’m currently an Assistant Professor of Finance at New Mexico State University at Las Cruces, NM.

What has your education done for you?
A graduate degree for anybody is a great investment, but a graduate education for a Hispanic woman means recognition, security, and confidence. When I was at UTPA, Dr. Cynthia Brown, and Dr. Marie Mora were great role models for me. When I became a professor, I realized that I also had the responsibility to become a role model for other female and Hispanic students.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?
I loved my educational experience at UTPA. I miss my friends and professors, and the friendly atmosphere I always experienced in my classes, and around the halls. UTPA also offered great opportunities for Ph.D. students to improve their teaching through the Teaching Academy workshops. I had the great opportunity to attend the first workshops, and I can definitely say that not only did UTPA influence my research interests, but it also shaped my teaching skills.

Best tip for success?
I believe that you have to be confident. Every day and everywhere, you will hear criticism, but if you believe in yourself you can accomplish great things.

 

Check out last week’s Profile in Excellence HERE.

Tips to Get a Job After Graduate School

A graduate degree confers significant advantages in the modern workforce. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with a master’s or doctoral degree have a significantly higher earning potential and are much less likely to be un- or underemployed than those with lower levels of educational attainment. However, current graduate students (as well as those who have recently graduated) could profit from some additional research before starting their job search if they want to maximize the competitive advantage of their degrees. Here are 8 tips to maximize your chances of snagging that dream job straight out of graduate school:

  1. Start networking with people in your industry. Nothing is more dangerous for your job-searching quest than long isolation in the ivory tower of academia. Be sure to get out every once in a while and attend business conferences in your industry. Use online resources to connect with thought leaders in your field and participate in the relevant conversations. Ask people in the ‘outside world’ for advice and get in touch with friends who might help you establish industry-specific connections. Join a LinkedIn Group and participate.

  2. Use LinkedIn more than Facebook. Although Facebook is an amazing tool to connect with friends and family, LinkedIn can help you connect with your next boss. As with any tool, you need to invest some time developing your skill in using your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it has the right balance of key words show up in the maximum number of relevant search results. If you think LinkedIn is not important, let this fact sink in: 93% of headhunters and job recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates.If thought of using social media in a job search seems a bit confusing, you might wish to peruse this article on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile

  3. Make sure everybody knows about your research. One big mistake of recent graduates who have research experience is “not bragging enough about it”.Humility is definitely appreciated, but if you want to find a job you need to use your experience in the field to showcase your expertise. If you have published research, make sure you include it in your resume. You can use a link-shortening service like Bitly.com or Goo.gl to include easy to open URLs to your published research in your printed resume (for example: http://nationalsciencearchive.gov/incredible-long-url-888942524634 becomes Goo.gl/AlexArticle8  )

  4. Get work experience in your field. A graduate degree is fantastic, but employers want to know if you can actually apply all that knowledge in a the real-life work setting. Make sure you have some internships to back up your degree or have an online portfolio of your work ready to impress potential employers. If you want to work in a creative field, upload some of your masterpieces to a professional portfolio service like Behance or TheCreativeFinder. If you work with data/Business Intelligence or software development Github is a must (you might also want to check out and be active in StackOverflow).

  5. Join and participate in local MeetUps. A great way to network offline is to join a MeetUp. The Rio Grande Valley is not as active as other regions in Texas but you can still network with other professionals in South Texas. Something I particularly recommend you to do is to join MeetUps in nearby cities and try to attend their events whenever you get a chance to do so. For example, if you are visiting family in San Antonio, you might want to look ahead for MeetUps in your industry/field and make an effort to attend one of their events.

  6. Yes, you do need business cards. Even in an increasingly digital world, business cards still have relevance. If you do not have a business card, you can have “personal cards”. You can buy the pre-cut templates at Staples or Office Depot, but I would recommend getting a professional-looking card since your card will form part of that vital first impression. A great place to get cheap business cards online is VistaPrint. On your card, you might want to include a link to your online portfolio or personal website to encourage people to check out what you have accomplished.

  7. Get your own branded domain name and website. Your next employer will most likely search your name online (you can use the Google’s Me On the Web tool to continuously monitor your name online, you need to have a Google Account to sign up for alerts).  Having a branded domain name (like alexandrogarrido.com) and your own showcase website can give you the extra competitive edge in your job hunting quest. Make sure you include your formatted CV, portfolio, and contact information. Having your own branded website is fairly easy and costs around $40 USD per year depending on the Domain Name Service Provider and the Hosting Company. A great place to start is GoDaddy or Hostgator. Many of these services provide “drag-and-drop” web design solutions, but if you would like to fine tune your web design skills to create something more impressive, I recommend checking out the Web Design Certification from UTPA Continuing Education.

  8. Beef up your resume. The key to your dream job is in your resume. Employers use many automated filtering tools to select potential candidates. If your resume lacks the buzzwords favored by HR in your industry or otherwise fails to impress, you will most likely stay trapped in the first filter. If you resume catches the prospective employer’s eye, you are much more likely to make it to the second filter, which is usually a phone/online interview. A strong showing from a distance will then lead it to the coveted in-person interview and higher chances to land the job. Nevertheless, the first, most important step is still your resume. Make sure the resume is not only grammatically correct but also customized for your ideal job. You can use the resources that the UTPA Career Services Office provides or an online resume evaluation (they are usually between $100 – $500 USD). I recommend you reading this article on the 10 second resume.

Thank you for reading this article, if you find it useful please help us help more people and share it with your friends.

Maricela De León, Master in Public Administration ‘11

What are you doing now?

I am self-employed. I am an independent legislative consultant and a registered lobbyist in the State of Texas. I assist clients on strategy implementation to ensure legislative efficiency and effectiveness for their business and county government. More so, I am the Founder of an Edinburg based non-profit, “Just Kauz It’s Right” where along with our board of directors, are committed to assisting school children throughout the Rio Grande Valley with educational tools, such as school supplies to succeed in the classroom. With the help and financial support of local donors, we are able to make a difference in the community.

What are your career goals? 

As a former Chief of Staff and Chief Committee Clerk on Technology for State Representative Aaron Peña and with over 10 years of public service in the state of Texas, I have a strong desire to continue my commitment to public service. As a result, I am currently on a 37-week LSAT prep and looking forward to attending law school next year, where I plan to specialize in Family Law, Real Estate Finance and Education Law. I plan to obtain a partnership with a Fortune 500 company as their top lobbyist. Obtaining my law degree is the epitome of my educational career. Reaching this milestone will position me to continue to fight for the people of Texas, specifically South Texas, and become a voice in Education Policy.

What has your UTPA graduate education done for you?

My UTPA graduate education has allowed me the opportunity to put in to practice the theory of policy into government policy implementation and evaluation.

How do you feel about your UTPA experience?

My UTPA experience ROCKED! From my undergraduate to graduate years, I stayed committed to having an experience that can be taken off campus and used in my personal and career ambitions.

Best tip for success?

The best tip for success is to be kind. Be determined. Have a positive attitude. Nothing in life is easy, nothing was given to me and no one will take care of you, except for you. These thoughts have proven successful in my life. It has not been an easy road, but if I had a negative attitude with no determination I would be a bitter person with no happiness and no success to show. It’s as easy as having a smile on your face. I try to live by this simple proverb a stranger taught me, “Hoy por ti, mañana por mi.” The people you meet in your life are God’s angels to make sure you stay on path.

Do you have any advice for prospective graduate students?

The best tip is to make sure you have a strategic plan and know what you want to have accomplished when you decide to embark in a graduate degree. Try to make your coursework decisions apply to what you plan on doing post-graduate school. Be sure to set priorities for family, work and your education. I don’t believe in excuses, so upon making a choice to seek a graduate school degree, you need to make sure it’s a true priority. Additionally, organize yourself and have a calendar book, utilize effective time management skills and always engage in class lecture because it’s the BEST way to learn!

Check out last week’s Profile in Excellence HERE.

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