Student Profiles: Nelva Denisse Kneip
Major: Speech Language Pathology
What motivated you to come to UTEP?
I come from a dysfunctional family. Halfway through my sophomore year, Child Protective Services was in the process of putting me “in a home.” I followed my sisters’ footsteps and ran away. At age 16, I got married and I dropped out of high school. I was emancipated; however, I was on my own. I bought a GED book and scheduled an exam. At the age of 17, I registered myself at El Paso Community College. I worked my way up from remedial courses as I worked assorted jobs to pay bills. During that time, I learned about hard work and perseverance. I took the bus daily, cleaned houses, ate stranger’s leftovers and learned how to navigate the world as well as my mind. I transferred to UTEP at age 18. In 2012, I graduated from UTEP with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. Three years later, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. I am now five months away from completing a lifelong dream of being the best version of myself – a version my twins can be proud of and an example I can be to other individuals that are struggling.
What advice would you give to a prospective student trying to overcome personal challenges to accomplish their dream of a college degree?
I grew up too fast. Looking back, I can only attribute my success to God’s special care and constant desire to not settle. I want to do more and I want my story to inspire. There are encouraging stories all around you - mine is only one. Anything can be achieved. Start with the end in mind and only do one day at a time. Visualize in color the future you want. Make a meaningful mantra and repeat it over and over. My mantra is: I am Denisse, daughter of the Most High. When it gets tough, because it will get tough, go back to the vision and mantra you created. Time is going to pass regardless; do something that matters.