GREATER TEXAS FOUNDATION | Annual Report 2021
GTF Scholars Spotlight
The GTF Scholars program was created to help more Texas Early College High School graduates successfully transition to higher education and complete a baccalaureate degree. The program is the first of its kind in Texas. The scholars highlighted here represent the diversity, passion, and drive of our more than 600 scholars at eight institutions across the state.
Why did you choose an Early College High School?
I’ve always had a strong work ethic. My school counselor recommended I consider Richland Collegiate High School and I quickly felt a sense of belonging there. Everyone at the school had the same goal and was working toward something bigger. It also helped me save time and money on the path toward a college education.
How has being a GTF Scholar helped you at the University of North Texas?
The GTF Scholars program has been a huge factor in my success. I feel fortunate to be in the program. There is lots of support—social, financial, stress relief. And I’m part of a cohort of ECHS graduates with a college mindset. It’s a community.
In 2021, I stopped out of school to deal with some mental health challenges. GTF is the reason I came back. My advisor, Dr. Melissa McGuire, helped me navigate the process of re-enrollment and connected me with resources and support services. I also had a mentor, a UNT alumnus working at Santander Bank, who encouraged me to complete my degree. He told me inspiring stories about the importance of making connections and seeking opportunities, no matter what kind of job you start out in.
What kind of jobs have you had so far?
I’ve worked across several different service industries—dining services, event catering, landscaping—and I’ve worked with all kinds of co-workers and customers. I enjoy learning about people and different cultures. I’m a people watcher.
Can you share a success that you’ve enjoyed in college?
It sounds counterintuitive but learning that I have ADHD was a victory for me. I’ve always struggled with reading; getting a diagnosis helped me understand why that is. And again, Dr. McGuire gave me support and encouragement and helped me connect with resources.
What do you like to do when you’re not studying?
I like skateboarding, being outdoors, playing my guitar, and writing music. Lately I’ve been playing gigs with my girlfriend and I performed on guitar as an opening act at North By North Texas, our campus music festival. UNT has a great music scene.
What would you like to do with your degree in Entrepreneurship?
Being an entrepreneur excites me because I like having options and helping others in any way possible. I think I would also enjoy consulting or being a business coach. I’d like to help businesses that are challenged.
How did you become interested in the field of Finance?
I got interested in personal finance and investments in high school during Covid-19. I wanted to understand how the stock market functioned and how it was responding during the pandemic.
Why did you attend an Early College High School?
My older brother went to Brownsville Early College High School (BECHS), and I always wanted to go there. My parents didn’t go to college, but they instilled the expectation that we would. Earning two years of college credit while I was in high school eased the financial burden for my parents and paved the way for college. BECHS is actually right across the street from UTRGV so we would go there to take our college-level classes. I still remember the first time my friends and I walked across the street and onto the university campus. I said ‘Guys, we are grown-ups now!’
How has the GTF Scholars program helped you in college?
It’s been a blessing. The money is helpful, of course, but they also help us develop more professionalism and build skills like interviewing and time management (which is something I struggled with in college). My mentor, doctoral candidate Garcia Ramon, helped me explore my major, look for internships, offered great advice regarding my scholastic journey, and has helped me think about earning an advanced degree. I’m proud that I’ve earned straight A’s while in college.
What do you do outside of school?
I’m on the Junior Board of Directors at Guadalupe Regional Middle School, where I used to be a student. I helped them set up a mentoring program to connect GRMS alumni high school students with college students to help them navigate the undergraduate world. The mentee I was paired with is now enrolled at UT-Dallas, so I’m happy about that. I have also been involved with other organizations on campus, such as the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization, where we have a great faculty sponsor.
To relax, I like to be outdoors and enjoy nature. I’m having success growing pineapples and papayas.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been selected for a Start Internship with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, working in Houston this summer. When I graduate, I want to work in consulting or finance, so this internship is a great opportunity for me.