Kristela Garza , 22, is a senior at The University of Texas-Pan American who will graduate in August 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a minor in global security studies. Throughout her time at UTPA she has attended the Washington Leadership Institute, the Summer Seminar: Foundations hosted by the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence and has traveled abroad to Morocco and Spain. She has also reported for the University newspaper, The Pan American. In addition, Garza has completed an internship with the U.S. Census Bureau in Maryland.
Honors/Awards: Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges, 2014; Texas Grant, 2009-present; and Lacks Valley Scholarship recipient, 2014.
What are your plans after graduation? Because of the opportunities afforded to me by the UT Pan American as well as the Global Security Studies program, I have decided that I would be happiest with a career in civil service, for either the nation or the state. In a communications position I know I could use my experience in journalism to serve the public to the best of my ability. However, a full time job in journalism would be a dream come true as well.
Do you plan to stay in the Valley? Although I consider the Valley my home I would really love to move somewhere out of state to explore. However, if I were offered a good job close to home I would gladly take it.
What has your education done for you? My education at the University has given me direction. I was guided to my current major after fumbling around for a semester or two, eventually finding my way to the student newspaper. Through that experience I learned the true meaning of late nights and own several thermoses. But I have also grown as a person and a lifelong learner. My education here has given me the courage to move toward my goals in a way I never could before.
How do you feel about your UTPA experience? To be honest UTPA was originally my third choice school; it was close to home and affordable, so I stayed. However, throughout my years here I have seen the world, interned in Washington, D.C. and have grown into a person who knows what they want in life and how to get it. But what is most important to me are the connections and experiences I enjoyed at this University. I found my place at UTPA, and, with the help of my minor, I found my passion for journalism and get to work with some of the best and brightest at the University on a day-to-day basis. What more can one ask for out of your college experience? For all this I will forever be thankful.
What is your best tip for success? Success is a relative term for me because I have experienced many disappointments in my college career. But everything led me down the path that I am on now and I am pretty happy. So when it comes right down to it my best tip would be to not be afraid to go after what you want, but if you do make sure that you give it your all.
What advice do you have for college-bound students? You know what you want to do, so do it. And if you don’t know keep moving forward and try different things, clubs and organizations. Find your passion and strive to do something you love for the rest of your life.