Bianca Renee Zapata, 21, plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in criminal justice in December 2016. She is a graduate of Harlingen High School. On campus, she joined the University Program Board (UPB), an organization that creates educational and entertaining events around campus, and has served as chair of UPB’s Heritage Committee. Zapata will continue being a member of the UPB for UTRGV and plans to join other organizations as well. Some of her volunteer work has been with Winterfest, planning Bronc Olympics and Party for the Planet at Gladys Porter Zoo. In May 2015, she attended the LeaderShape Institute, which teaches students to lead with integrity and have a healthy disregard for the impossible.
Awards/Honors: Texas Grant recipient, Fall 2012-present; UPB Programming Assistant of the Month, November 2014; Making the Difference Award, May 2015; and LeaderShape Academy graduate, May 2015.
What are your plans after graduation? Following my graduation, I plan to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio for the master’s program and continue with my sociology degree. I hope to one day work for the government at the state/federal level or work with administration.
Do you plan to return to the Valley? I plan on leaving the Valley for school but who knows what the future will hold. There is so much to explore outside of the Valley. The Valley will always have a special place in my heart but I do wish to travel. I do plan on coming back to visit family and friends.
What has your education done for you? My education has done so much for me. I’ve learned not to take education for granted since not everyone is able to receive the same education as I have. Being the oldest of three kids, I’ve shown my younger brothers what hard work and dedication can do for you. Having my family’s support and seeing how proud they are is a great feeling. Education has opened so many doors for me and the possibilities are endless.
How do you feel about your UTPA experience? My UTPA experience has been amazing. The wonderful staff, dedicated professors and my friends have made it extraordinary. The memories I have made here will forever stay with me. I thank each and every person I have come across who has helped me become the woman I am today. However, my experience isn’t over. I still have things to learn and grow as a person. Even though I won’t be graduating as a Bronc, I am still very excited to be graduating as a Vaquero and I am grateful for everything that this university has done for me.
What is your best tip for success? Set goals for yourself. Don’t try to be someone else, just be yourself and work hard. Manage your time wisely and always stay positive even when times get tough. Be dedicated, passionate and patient. Don’t be afraid of failure and learn from your mistakes.
What advice do you have for college-bound students? College is no walk in the park. You have to work hard all four years. Start off strong and don’t slack off. Become involved and join organizations, talk to professors, make new friends and challenge yourself. Ask your professors questions and don’t let the fear of failing get to you. Professors don’t want you to fail, they want to see you succeed. Find out who you are and don’t take anything for granted. Have pride for your university and enjoy your college experience.