As the youngest of three children, Brenda Chavez felt like the pressure to be the first in her family to attend college fell on her shoulders.
Born in Mexico, the broadcasting and Spanish translation and interpreting senior said she moved to Dallas when she was around eight years old. Her brother chose to work and make money, and her sister got married and started a family.
“It’s like, ‘You’re the youngest, you have to go to school. You have to be someone in life,’” she said.
Chavez has loved watching the news since she was a kid and decided to transfer from UT-Permian Basin upon discovering UTA News en Español.
In December, she’ll become the first college graduate in her family.
In fall 2018, UTA had an undergraduate Hispanic population of about 33% and a graduate Hispanic population of about 17%, according to the university’s website.
Recently the Hispanic Outlook Higher Education Magazine ranked UTA in its Top 100 in Colleges and Universities for Hispanic Students. The university has been a Hispanic-Serving Institution since 2014, receiving additional grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
Michele Bobadilla, assistant provost for Hispanic student services, said the recognition shows a level of academic excellence for students. Bobadilla is also the senior associate vice president for outreach services and community engagement.
“For a Hispanic student who’s looking for a place to explore their career opportunities, UTA would be a very welcoming environment,” Bobadilla said.
The university’s location, deep sense of community and great academic programs are factors students look at when exploring higher education options.
She said UTA’s diverse campus helps students prepare for the global marketplace with students who are similar to them and who reflect the world.
Being recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution opened the door for Department of Education grants to build resources such as the IDEAS Center, which helps first generation students with coursework, said Julian Rodriguez, UTA News en Español faculty adviser.
UTA also has the Hispanic Media Initiative that focuses on the advancement of Hispanic media education, journalism and research, according to the program’s website.
“To help Latino students, we need to understand where they come from,” Rodriguez said. “And UTA has been developing a support system that makes that possible.”
For him, the increase in Hispanic population in Texas shows in the classroom.
UTA News en Español is responding to trends that show Hispanics are going to college, Rodriguez said.
Chavez said she also appreciates the work Rodriguez, both as a lecturer and adviser, puts into getting his students professional exposure.
From Telemundo Miami training on campus to attending journalism conferences and networking with potential employers, Chavez said Rodriguez tries to get as many opportunities as possible for his students. She said she feels it’s a blessing to have someone pushing for Hispanic representation in the workforce.
“It’s really cool that he advocates for that because it opens a lot of doors,” she said.
Going to university, earning scholarships and interning for Univision and Telemundo, Chavez said she hopes to inspire her eldest niece, who already talks about attending university and what she wants to study.
Chavez said she faced stereotypes for being an immigrant and growing up in Oak Cliff, a Dallas neighborhood.
“I’m not going to be another statistic,” Chavez said. “It doesn’t matter if you live in Oak Cliff; you can still be someone. It doesn’t matter if you come from an immigrant [family]; you can still be someone.”