Undergradute Admissions Counselor Alba Esparza
Hometown: Clint, Texas
College Major: Mathematics (UTeach Natural Sciences)
Territory: El Paso
Office: El Paso Admissions Center
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in the beautiful Sun City—El Paso, Texas—and shortly after that moved around Mexico from Juarez, Chihuahua to Mexicali, Baja California. I finally ended up in Clint, Texas, at the beginning of the third grade. Clint is a very small town with a population of less than 1,000 and only a couple of miles away from the city of El Paso. While at Clint High School, I played volleyball and basketball, was part of the National Honor Society and German National Honor Society, and participated in UIL journalism competitions.
Q: Where did you go to college? What did you study in college?
A: I was the first in my family to attend college and decided to enroll at The University of Texas at Austin. My family’s economic situation made the option of attending an out-of-state school very difficult, but I did want to attend a school outside the El Paso area. Since I had been living in a small town for a while, I really wanted to experience living in a city and be part of a larger, more diverse population. Unlike many other students, I did not get the opportunity to visit campus before making my decision, so my first experience visiting UT was during orientation. It was very different from anything I had ever experienced and almost decided not to come because it was so overwhelming and large. After the first day of class, though, I decided to focus on my studies, and I was able to adjust very well.
At the time, I was pursuing a degree in civil engineering, but after the first year, I decided that it was just not for me. After some advice from family, friends and advisors, I decided to pursue a mathematics degree so that I could teach high school math. I enrolled in the UTeach Natural Sciences Program. It was the best decision for me, and I enjoyed every experience in the program.
Q: How long have you been working in higher education or in a college environment?
A: I worked as a SHARE student ambassador for two years in the Undergraduate Admissions Center before graduating in the summer of 2008. Watching and experiencing the interaction between admissions staff and prospective students and their families inspired me to get a job that allowed me to help others pursue their higher education goals.
Q: What is your favorite place on campus?
A: There are two places that I enjoyed as a student: the Architecture Library and the Turtle Pond. The Architecture library was a great place to study, and if you are interested in art or architecture, it's not a bad place to sit and appreciate the design and structure of the space. The Turtle Pond is right next to the Tower and Painter Hall which is where most of my UTeach classes were. So when I need to relax or let my brain absorb the information from class, the Turtle Pond area was the closest and best place to go.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do in Austin?
A: The Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake and Zilker Park are great outdoor and recreational areas that I enjoy visiting on the weekends with friends. One characteristic of Austin that I really enjoy is that you can enjoy the outdoors and nature (the Hike and Bike Trail is right in the middle of downtown Austin) and then walk just a few blocks and experience the faster pace of downtown with its shops, restaurants, cafés, live music venues and museums.
Advice to Students
- Take that extra math or science class in high school—even if it is not required to graduate. It will come in handy for some of your future college courses or may allow you to test out of some college-level courses.
- Live on campus. This allows you to get to know the culture of the campus and the students. It's also easier to stay on top of what's going on around campus. You don’t have to worry about driving to school, finding a parking spot, paying bills, cooking, etc.
- Get involved with student organizations or get a campus job. Joining an organization is a great way to get to know people with similar interests. If you’re interested in making some extra money, there are always on-campus jobs for students. Most of them offer incredibly flexible hours that work with your class schedule.
- Manage your time. Time management is a HUGE part of being a successful college student. Practice now, so that it is not such a shock when you get to college. Using a daily planner or planning calendar and not procrastinating are good habits to develop to have a successful college experiences—especially during your freshman year.
- Be proactive about finding scholarships. Find sources that will provide financial support for you to attend college. Money should never be the reason you don’t go to school. There are many free online resources that provide information about scholarships (local and national), grants and loans.