Transforming and improving the lives of our students and their families is central to the purpose of the mission of The University of Texas at Austin. As a public flagship university serving Texans from all backgrounds, one of our key priorities is supporting students and their families along their path to achieving the American dream. As a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, a national alliance of public and private universities, we are working to expand college access and opportunity to highly-talented lower-income students. This series of student stories highlights exceptional students who are thriving, pursuing their passions, and preparing to go out and change the world.
Meet Luciana Gutierrez-Moreno, Class of 2020. She overcame self-doubt and set her sights on attending UT Austin. Since arriving on campus from El Paso, she has found her true passion and plans to take what she learns in the McCombs School of Business to help improve the lives of children around the world.
We spoke with her about her experiences on the Forty Acres so far, her journey of self-discovery, and advice she has for other students from similar backgrounds.
What lead you to UT Austin?
For a while, I didn’t think I could come this far because of my financial situation. I wasn’t sure if I could do what other kids were doing, but I always knew I wanted to go to college. On the first day of my freshman year of high school, I decided I was going to go to college and wasn’t going to worry about the money. I worked really hard to get myself to UT and found that resources are available and within your reach.
When you first arrived on campus, was it what you expected?
I think there is a stereotype of what people think college is like — you know, what you see in the movies. But it is different. For me, I have never been so passionate about the things I work on every day. It never entered my mind how invested I would be in my coursework because I never had the opportunity to take classes that I picked. I thought I was into school before, but now I realize just how really into school I am. I love my classes!
When you were applying to college, did you know what kind of career you wanted to pursue?
I applied to the McCombs School of Business because it aligned with what I want to do. However, I wasn’t sure about my exact major in the school. Since being here, I have developed an interest in technology and computers, so I found Management Information Systems (MIS), which is a perfect combination of what I want to do and what I am interested in.
What do you hope to accomplish in your future career?
Since arriving at UT, I have developed a passion for helping children — their health, education and general well-being. I joined UNICEF and became really involved in the organization and took an officer position. As my passion has grown, I have begun looking into a career where I can use my MIS background to put together information systems — like a health information system, for example — that can help children in different ways. I knew what I wanted to study and learn, and now I have a much clearer idea of how I want to apply it.
Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you here at UT Austin?
I have a lot of great mentors. Jamie, my mentor in the McCombs Leadership Program, has been super helpful. She gives me a lot of advice about professors, classes and studying abroad; and Christina, one of the program leaders, has helped me with networking and exploring career options. She has been a great resource to work with about how to achieve my future career goals.
Have you learned anything about yourself that has surprised you?
I have learned that I should never underestimate myself. I am capable of more than I thought.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Work really hard and take advantage of your time at UT. There are so many resources, and people to meet and talk to, and things to do. Explore your interests. UT provides a really cool college experience with lots of opportunities on campus for personal growth and exploration.