In eighth grade, Melanie Saenzpardo moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, back to her birthplace of El Paso, Texas, located just north of Juarez. “I decided to chase a better future for myself,” she says. In El Paso, raised by her grandparents, the native Spanish speaker quickly learned English.
“I’m really grateful to have faced that adversity. It showed me how brave I can be, and the importance of believing in myself,” says Saenzpardo, a biomedical engineering major.
She has created a better future not only for herself but also for others. Saenzpardo petitioned to stop the city of El Paso from ending its recycling program, attending City Hall meetings and talking to the mayor. The program was saved thanks to her efforts.
In high school, she also promoted awareness of Hispanic identity, helping to develop Hispanic Heritage Week; was a Key Club member; founded a tutoring service for non-English speakers; and worked as a grocery store cashier.
Knowing that [UT believes] in my talents makes me feel like I can accomplish everything I want.”
When Saenzpardo was a young child, a fall while playing at home left a permanent scar on her face. The difficulty her mother experienced in receiving affordable medical care influenced her decision to enter her field.
“I want to help low-income communities get access to medical tools and bridge the gap with medical equity. I’ve liked science ever since I was little; I can attribute that to my kindergarten teacher,” she says.
In her free time, Saenzpardo enjoys doing embroidery, working out, binge-watching Netflix shows and spending time with her family.
After learning that she was the recipient of an Impact Scholarship, awarded to students from across the state who are making an impact on their local communities, Saenzpardo cried for the entire day. The UT Cockrell School of Engineering then awarded her a scholarship that matched the Impact Scholarship. She also received scholarships from Burger King, the National Math and Science Initiative and the Kiwanis Club of El Paso, among others.
With acceptances and offers from top colleges including Yale, Columbia, Brown, Duke and Johns Hopkins, Saenzpardo chose UT Austin due to the high level of support she received and the innovative, top-tier programs that the Cockrell School offered.
At UT, she is looking forward to experiencing other cultures by studying abroad, experiencing UT traditions, and becoming involved with Engineers Without Borders and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
“UT really showed me how invested they were in my talents. They cared about me deeply. … I realized that they had a collaborative environment and that I could not only learn from the professors but as well as my classmates and through research,” she says. “Knowing that they believe in my talents makes me feel like I can accomplish everything I want.”