Student Outreach profiles by Leticia Acosta, Chair- Student Outreach Committee
Monica Lozano is in her last semester as a dual degree candidate for a Master’s of Art in Women’s and Gender Studies and a Master’s of Science in Information Studies. She will also be receiving a Graduate Portfolio in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. Monica has worked in multiple settings with Spanish speaking and Latino communities both here in Austin and her hometown of San José, California. Prior to graduate school, Monica worked in the Bay Area for five years with multiple nonprofits serving children with special needs and families in crisis. She predominantly worked with Spanish speaking families. This work in social services is what brought her back to school and the field of librarianship.
She is currently applying an interdisciplinary approach to her master’s thesis on cultural communities and storytelling through oral histories centered on the creation of the Biblioteca Latinoamericana, a branch of the San José Public Library located in San José, California. Her research looks at how a community group who wanted their language and culture to be represented in a local library founded the Biblioteca Latinoamericana. The space became not only the location to acquire and disperse knowledge but also a place to create community and culture. All the oral histories and information gathered throughout her research process will be given back to the Biblioteca Latinoamericana. After graduating, Monica hopes to work in an academic library specializing in Latin American Studies or in a public library servicing Latinos and Spanish speaking youth. Monica is also a certified yoga instructor and hopes to bring yoga to library settings.
Monica describes her experience at the University of Texas at Austin as life changing. When she first entered graduate school she had no idea how many opportunities would open up for her. Monica has been fortunate enough to take classes outside her department. Specifically, she recalls taking Digital Storytelling and Theatre in the Museum through the Theatre and Dance Department. In Theatre in the Museum, she had the opportunity to co-write a script with other students and even perform as ‘Alicia- the Spanish Alice’ from Peru at the Harry Ransom Center.
Monica recalls her first semester of graduate school. She had been out of school for five years prior to entering her graduate program and was very nervous. In one of her first classes she took the class, Sociology of Sexual Violence with Professor Gloria González-López. She remembers the structure of the classroom, and feeling safe as Professor González-López set up the classroom for all the students to check in with the groups and ask how they were feeling coming into the class. Monica has had the opportunity to continue to work with Professor González, as she is also her second reader on her master’s thesis. Monica is grateful for all the opportunities she has be given while at UT
Subiendo Academy Alumnus (2011)
Mechanical Engineering (Fall 2017)
In the summer of 2011, George Garcia learned one important lesson during the Subiendo Academy: never underestimate the potential of others and himself. By setting high standards, he realized he must push himself to the limit to know his true potential.
As a 17-year old kid from Brownsville, he knew he liked math and science, and was intrigued by how it could be applied to things he thought were cool, like cars and machines. As a college student, he didn’t realize just how rough those courses would be, but he liked what he studied and decided it was worth the effort. He started at UT Brownsville and visited the NASA Johnson Space Center during his first year with a STEM club. This visit wasn’t just an ordinary visit in his eyes; it opened a world of possibilities to him. Whether it was the ability to talk to scientists that worked behind the scenes or to see the highly guarded lunar rocks, it all helped shape where this young man was headed. As a junior studying mechanical engineering at UT Austin, George continues to push himself every day – and it’s paying off.
Last fall, George was part of the research team that unveiled the first of its kind 3-D printing vending machine. Innovation Station gives students the opportunity to build objects for a variety of purposes through a web-based portal and queue system. The cutting edge research he continues to learn will be put to good use, as his sight is set on returning to his hometown where SpaceX is building a rocket launching site. “Working for a prestigious company like SpaceX in the place where I grew up would almost be like a dream come true for me,” said Garcia.
Subiendo’s vision is for each student to believe in their potential and aspire to lead. George Garcia is on his way to do just that.
To see other Subiendo student spotlights, visit https://utsubiendo.wordpress.com/.
Subiendo Academy Alumna 2013
Business Administration May 2018
In the summer of 2013, Shalom Hernandez prepared to board a plane for the first time and leave her family and hometown of El Paso to attend Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders. This flight, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, would turn out to be her ticket to discovering more than just her leadership potential. Since birth, she has suffered from a physical disability called Arthrogryposis which has interfered with the proper function of her lower body and legs. After ten surgeries and her first year of independence in college under her belt, she is now using her story of perseverance to help children with physical disabilities at Borderless Giving Fund in Juarez, Mexico, a unique program located near the U.S.-Mexico border in which an American hospital performs medical care on children from Mexico.
Shalom knows first-hand the difference medical care and equipment can make, and through a chance meeting in her doctor’s office in El Paso, she met a young girl who was just starting her own journey to gain more independence with the help of this organization. Shalom not only provided inspiration to a family unsure of the possibilities that awaited this young child, but she realized she could start now on working towards her dream to start a nonprofit benefitting kids with disabilities internationally.
She remembers attending Subiendo and what it meant to leave home. Shalom said, “Subiendo was a big transformation for me as it expanded my world view a lot. I knew I was capable of doing many things, but Subiendo made it seem real. I could do it on my own, I could go to a university away from home and be fully independent. Before I was scared to go out on my own without help from my family. But after Subiendo, I felt unstoppable.”
Her goal is to raise $10,000 dollars to donate to the Borderless Giving Fund to help fund medical equipment or surgeries. Shalom was able to connect her contacts from her walker manufacturing company to this organization to secure a fair price, and will work with them this summer as a mentor.
Subiendo’s vision is for each student to believe in their potential and aspire to lead. Shalom Hernandez is on her way to do just that.
To see more of her story, and our other alumni, visit https://utsubiendo.wordpress.com/
Since arriving to the University of Texas campus in 2012, Megan Maldonado has worked tirelessly to make the most out of her undergraduate experience. As a senior, she has made the Dean’s List for the past three consecutive semesters and will graduate in May with an impressive 3.7 GPA. This Houston native is no stranger to a big city, but her sites have always been set on exploring the world to gain perspective and to truly put her International Relations and Global Studies major to work. In 2015, not only did she take her first flight out of Texas to attend the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at West Point Military Academy where she was selected as one of two students to represent UT, but she now has stamps in her passport. After spending part of her summer in China on a study abroad program and completing a service learning opportunity in the American Embassy in Uzbekistan, Megan is currently studying abroad in Mexico.
As a Rapoport Service Scholar, she has completed over 200 hours of community service each of the last three summers and has stated, “That discussing some of the most difficult social issues in our society with the eleven other Rapoport Service Scholars restored my faith in humanity. I learned so much from these individuals by hearing their perspectives, experiences, and goals.”
When talking of her own goals, she is focused on humanitarian relief and development in regions of the world where it’s needed. She aims to find organizations that address the issues plaguing humans around the world. She lights up about the possibility of interning with the UN Women’s Council to focus on the potential of adolescent girls to end poverty, participate in their regional economy, and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Africa. “Every leader needs help taming their idealism, so I plan to further my education by attending graduate school and gaining more experience by serving in the Peace Corps.”
Megan reflects, “The Academy led me to really view myself as a leader and reassured me that I had the skills and potential to accomplish my goals. Some of my greatest mentors and role models are all people I have met through Subiendo. Those relationships have become an invaluable component of my support system by encouraging and pushing me to reach my fullest potential.”