Rolando D. Garza, 21, plans to graduate from The University of Texas-Pan American in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Garza graduated from San Isidro High School in 2009. At UTPA, he has served as a UTPA Ambassador since Fall 2010 and as a concurrent enrollment and MUSE counselor since Summer 2010. He has also served as a GEAR UP counselor. Garza is a member of Artists Unanimous and the Design Collective. Garza has volunteered more than 30 hours of community service to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and at events such as Bronc Round Up.
Awards/Honors: University Scholar Scholarship, 2009-present; Dean’s List, Spring 2011; and UTPA Ambassador, Fall 2010-present.
What are your plans after graduation? My current plan is to continue on my education in the design field, specializing in 3D modeling and digital illustration. Hopefully after that and some life experience, I would like to get my Ph.D. in art therapy and psychology.
Do you plan to return to the Valley? I actually do wish to return to the Valley for three reasons: 1. I want to become a professor at UTPA and hopefully bring in a game design or 3D modeling program to the college. Being a son of two teachers and a mentor to many students has given me the drive to be able to educate the adults of our future. 2. I want to come back to help expand the art community here in the Valley. I believe the unique location we live in does not deserve to be underserved when it comes to the arts and I want to change that for the better. 3. It is a long shot for now, but, I want to raise my kids in this area and send them to the same school system I went to, San Isidro ISD.
What has your education done for you? Well, my education itself is very varied. I have changed my major around five times, so I have a background in psychology, engineering, sciences, and now art. I believe that the programs that I have been through, beside expanding my knowledge in varied areas, helped me become a more sensible and well-rounded person.
How do you feel about your UTPA experience? I honestly love my UTPA experience! I came from a rural community out there in the ranchlands of South Texas and never really lived in the city. My graduating class had 21 students, so I had quite a bit of a culture shock when I came here. However, ever since I have been here, I have loved every moment. All the people one meets and experiences you have with those people are the real deal college life.
What is your best tip for success? As cliché as it sounds, it is as simple as following your dreams and loving your life. I have had people constantly putting me down for whatever I would be doing, especially now with people’s perception of me as going nowhere, just because I am earning an art degree. But I do not let their words hold me down, because deep down doing what I love makes me happy. Also, having friends and family who support me help me get through life’s hardships. Now if I, a small town man, can do it, why not you?
What advice do you have for college-bound students? Never be afraid to ask. So many times I see people lost or scared because they did not ask a simple question. You may be actually surprised, as I have been, on the results when you ask a question. There are surprising numbers of warm, happy people who are willing to go above and beyond what you ask them; not everyone is cold and callous. It is love that will make you stronger.