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Vocation Vacations: UTEP Students Share Summer Experiences

Now that UTEP’s fall semester is in full swing, several students took the time to reflect on their summer educational experiences – or vocation vacations – and write about their impact.

Summer for many UTEP students is about more than kicking back and relaxing. Those who aren’t enrolled in summer courses may take advantage of internships or study abroad/study away experiences that help them expand their perspectives, gain experience in their chosen field and make contacts for their futures.

From studying historic preservation in Rome or Austin, to practicing public relations in London, doing financial analysis on Wall Street, learning about health disparities in Panama and Costa Rica, spending time in the offices of state and federal legislators, and conducting biomedical research at MIT, Johns Hopkins and Novartis, these 19 students have one thing in common: their summers were unforgettable.

Samuel Alvidrez: Working on Wall Street

Alvidrez

Alvidrez

“I had the opportunity to be a Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Asset Management intern, as well as a Chief Investment Office summer analyst at Merrill Lynch. … I feel blessed that I was able to live this top-tier experience over the summer. I used to dream about working on Wall Street, so I can finally say that hard work paid off. However, I am sure this is just the start of my journey.”

Read Samuel’s Vocation Vacation here

Sebastian Becerra: Practicing Public Relations in London

Becerra

Becerra

“This summer I had the good fortune to serve as an intern at The Work Crowd (TWC), a startup based in what I consider the greatest city in the world: London, England. …While we spoke the same language, I learned a lot about British culture and mannerisms from my co-workers. I was pleasantly surprised to witness that old-fashioned British politeness that I had heard about and seen on TV. It was a pleasure to deal with everyone from my peers to the people on the streets.”

Read Sebastian’s Vocation Vacation here

Yessica Delgado: Gaining New Perspectives in Greece

Delgado

Delgado

“I spent the summer of 2016 on a study abroad program at the American College of Greece in Athens. The whole trip was a learning experience, and I don’t just mean in the classroom with Professor Nikolopoulou, but in learning to trust myself, learning to love who I am, and stepping outside the comfort zone that surrounded me at home and allowed me to learn and be part of another culture. … Being a small town girl from Clint, I never saw myself living for five weeks in a foreign country and going to the farmers market every Monday to buy fresh groceries, or snorkeling near Santorini or even jumping off miniature cliffs on the island of Hydra.”

Read Yessica’s Vocation Vacation here

Ana Dominguez: Synthetic Biology at MIT

Dominguez

Dominguez

“This summer, I worked in the Weiss Lab for Synthetic Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP). … I was able to meet 43 other brilliant minds who accompanied me through this whole process and that now form part of my professional network and the MSRP family. Thanks to this program, I now feel more confident in my research skills and my ability to compete successfully for a doctoral degree.”

Read Ana’s Vocation Vacation here

Vanessa Enriquez: Aiding Aedes Research in Panama

Enriquez

Enriquez

“I greeted ‘Buenas’ to everyone we encountered while searching the village of Darien, Panama for placed ovitraps (mosquito egg collection tools). It had only been my partner’s and my first week in Panama when our mentor told us we would be doing field work in Darien. … Ending up there began six months prior, when I first applied to UTEP’s Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program. I applied to the program not knowing what my research topic would be or where I would end up, but sure that I would have the opportunity to make an impact on minority health disparities through international research.”

Read Vanessa’s Vocation Vacation here

Edmundo Esparza: Studying Molecular Pathways at Novartis

Esparza

Esparza

“This summer I had the immense privilege of participating in the Summer Scholars Program at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Novartis is a global healthcare company and Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) in particular focuses on the research and development of therapies. NIBR takes a very unique approach to pharmaceutical research itself. All of the research at NIBR is driven by patient needs and an in-depth understanding of diseases – a very inspiring cause indeed.”

Read Edmundo’s Vocation Vacation here

Robert J. Fernandez: A Summer with Beto O’Rourke

Fernandez

Fernandez

“I’m a nontraditional student who ventured into college later in life. … This past summer I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in a congressional internship with Congressmen Beto O’Rourke in El Paso. I have always been fascinated with politics and our democratic system. I felt as a community member and student that I could only benefit from this exciting opportunity.”

Read Robert’s Vocation Vacation here

Mary Fuentes: Developing Cancer Treatments in Costa Rica

Fuentes

Fuentes

“This summer, I was given the opportunity to travel to San Jose, Costa Rica for seven weeks through the Minority Health International Research Training Program (MHIRT), which allows students to work and be part of an international research setting. This experience not only opened my eyes to health-related research, but it allowed me to immerse myself in a different culture and learn so much from everyone I met along my journey. … One thing I will never forget from this experience was the excitement that my mentor and I felt when we obtained the results we were looking for after a week of intensive work that had given us no results. After a quick in-lab celebration, we went back to work with more excitement and determination.”

Read Mary’s Vocation Vacation here

Evelyn Garcia: Working with Minority Veterans in D.C.

Garcia

Garcia

“My experience living in D.C. allowed me to adjust to a hectic and fast-paced environment. I learned to assimilate to my surroundings and in this case how to commute using the metro and bus. My favorite part of the experience was being able to attend the 2016 LULAC national convention, featuring top leaders from the government, business and the Latino community. Attending the convention made me want to educate and empower others to turn their dreams into reality.”

Read Evelyn’s Vocation Vacation here

Lizette Gutierrez: Improving Health in Panama

Gutierrez

Gutierrez

“When trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle, you do not look at the final product and attempt to figure out which piece goes where. Instead, you begin to piece together clumps of puzzle pieces, concentrating on and appreciating the details of each piece. Much like the formation of a puzzle, this journey allowed me to look deeper into social determinants of health in Panama. We utilized our time in our laboratory to learn about the illnesses prevalent and unique to the Republic of Panama, and we also took the time to educate colleagues about healthy habits such as drinking more water, eating fresh produce and exercise.”

Read Lizette’s Vocation Vacation here

Jacob Hernandez: A Window Into Medical Research

Hernandez

Hernandez

“This past summer I had the privilege of attending a research internship at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, in the division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. I was matched with a mentor and given the opportunity to assist her on the many studies she was overseeing. … During the 10 weeks, I worked under Nadia Hansel, M.D., an associate professor of medicine whose research interests are genetic and environmental determinants of obstructive airway diseases. This gave me enough time to learn immense information about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, obesity and immunology.”

Read Jacob’s Vocation Vacation here

Victor Hurtado: Historic Preservation in Austin

Hurtado

Hurtado

“I worked with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in Austin, acquiring professional and real-world experience in the field of historic preservation. My internship was split between two divisions within the THC: the Division of Architecture in June and the Community Heritage Development Division in July. … Although it was a fairly short internship, I felt that I obtained a broader perspective by getting out of my comfort zone and exposing myself to this experience.”

Read Victor’s Vocation Vacation here

Alexandra Elise Jones: Preserving Rome’s Colosseum

Jones

Jones

“I was part of the study abroad program Layers of Rome for two weeks in June. The research included the history, preservation history and present attempts to preserve the Colosseum. We also studied who is funding the preservation that is being done on the site, how it’s affecting the locals in Rome, how it’s affecting tourists, and future plans for preservation. … Each day offered new experiences and new knowledge that I will use for future reference as a student of history and museum studies.”

Read Alexandra’s Vocation Vacation here

Paloma Vianey Martinez: Studying Art History at the Met

Martinez

Martinez

“It was an honor to represent The University of Texas at El Paso at The Met. The internship was a nine-week, paid program in which I collaborated with seven other students from colleges throughout the country. … The internship was a long and difficult one, but incredibly rewarding. As a student who had just began studying in the art history field, working at The Met helped form a strong perspective on what working in a museum is really like.”

Read Paloma’s Vocation Vacation here

Kelsey Mason: Studying Volcanoes on Mars

Mason

Mason

“My 10-week internship was at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I worked with Jacob Bleacher and his crew in the center’s Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory on a project titled “Characterizing the Explosive Volcanic History of Mars.” … I was privileged to view the James Webb Telescope scheduled to launch in October 2018, a mission that will provide the best imagery of the universe to date, and was working at NASA when the Juno Mission entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4.”

Read Kelsey’s Vocation Vacation here

David A. Flores Servin: Unexpected Opportunities in a Legislative Office

Servin

Servin

“This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Office of Texas State Senator José Rodriguez. … As soon as I began the internship, constituent work caught my attention. Being the point of contact and ultimately a nexus to assist constituents with state agencies is quite a challenge. The firsthand relationship that the office has with state agencies made me think of the potential of learning and development that it offers. It dawned on me how clueless I was beforehand about the opportunities public policy offers.”

Read David’s Vocation Vacation here

Brenda Simental: Managing Loans at Goldman Sachs

Simental

Simental

“My dream is to be a financial analyst, and this past summer I was fortunate enough to intern at one of the world’s most prestigious multinational banking firms – The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. I did a 10-week internship with the Loan Asset Management group (LAM), which is part of the Realty Management Division (RMD) in Irving, Texas. The Goldman Sachs’ culture is all about making an impact, and I felt great after I realized that I was treated as an analyst and not just an intern.”

Read Brenda’s Vocation Vacation here

Saul Tercero: Giving Back Across the Border

Tercero

Tercero

“I recently had the opportunity to cross our international border and go to our neighboring country for a service learning opportunity with two other students and a professor. Fundacion Integra, located in Juárez, Mexico, is the clinic where we completed a 40-hour internship. The clinic serves underprivileged communities in and surrounding Juárez and offers rehabilitation services to patients of all ages and walks of life. … The opportunity has left me inspired to continue on my quest to become a well-rounded therapist and place more value on exploring unique opportunities where I can engage myself, share my knowledge and enrich my own educational experience while a student at UTEP.”

Read Saul’s Vocation Vacation here

Reina Treviño: Testing GPS of the Future

Treviño

Treviño

“Driving through the gates of Lockheed Martin on my first day I didn’t know what to expect. I was given the opportunity to intern over the summer at the Waterton campus in Littleton, Colorado. I had never had an internship before, so this was something new and exciting for me. … Once I got to the building, I walked in and met with my manager. I was working with the GPS III antenna team. While the majority of the details of my project cannot be shared, I can say that I was working on the next GPS system that will be launched into space.”

Read Reina’s Vocation Vacation here

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