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UTEP Student Profile: Aiyana Ponce

Last Updated on April 19, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Originally published April 19, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Aiyana Ponce, a junior cellular and molecular biochemistry major, shares her best UTEP memory – so far – and talks about the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone as a student.

Aiyana Ponce
Aiyana Ponce

Name: Aiyana Ponce

Classification: Junior

Major: Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry

What high school did you graduate from? When? Silva Health Magnet High School, class of 2016

What drew you to UTEP? I decided to attend UTEP to stay close to my family and because I greatly admire this University’s mission to ensure access and excellence in higher education. I also wanted to take advantage of the UTEP BUILDing Scholars Scholarship and the Terry Foundation Scholarship that I was awarded during my senior year of high school.

What have you enjoyed most about studying here? While at UTEP, I have seen that the most successful students do not become successful alone. What I have enjoyed most about studying here is working with many UTEP faculty and staff members who truly care about student success which they define by more than just academic success. The individuals I have worked with have been inspirational and always willing to help! I would especially like to thank Dr. Tina Garza, Dr. Marc Cox, Dr. James Becvar, Christian Corrales, and Mallory Payan.

What’s your favorite place to relax or study on campus? My favorite place to relax on campus is the Centennial Plaza area during the night time. I absolutely love how the lights look while taking a walk during this time! My favorite place to study on campus are the study rooms at the residence halls because they are well equipped with study supplies and I can study in a quiet area for as long as I want.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why? My favorite class so far has been an English course titled “Confronting the Holocaust in Germany and Poland.” Through this course, my classmates and I studied abroad in Germany and Poland to visit various memorials, museums, concentration camps and other local sites. It was not only the study abroad experience that made this class my favorite, but the professor, Dr. Ezra Cappell, created a supportive environment that welcomed all opinions when discussing the course material. I had not had a chance to take a class like this in my current major, but I believe that it is extremely important to step outside of your comfort zone by taking classes that you may not initially think relates to your major/career.

What are your career aspirations? Upon graduation, I would like to continue my education by pursuing an M.D., Ph.D., or an M.D./Ph.D.! I have always been attracted to the healthcare field, especially its role with underserved populations, and my hope is that I will be part of that, whether it be through translational biomedical research, as a practicing physician, or both.

How will your experiences at UTEP help you achieve those dreams? UTEP has allowed me to be a well-rounded student, but I am extremely thankful to the BUILDing SCHOLARS program for giving me experiences specific to my field of interest. Through this program, I have been able to participate in 10-week summer internships at Rice University and the University of Connecticut Health Center. These experiences allowed me to increase my passion for science, broaden my network, and overall prepare me for life after a bachelor’s degree.

What’s your favorite UTEP event, and why? My favorite UTEP event is the Distinguished Alumni Dinner. I feel fortunate to have been able to attend the Distinguished Alumni Dinner in 2017 because it was truly inspiring to see a handful of UTEP graduates be awarded for their great accomplishments. As a Miner Ambassador, I had the opportunity to engage with the award recipients, their friends and family, and many UTEP faculty and staff members who were in attendance. It was not just their incredible success that was inspiring but witnessing how humble the award recipients were. They made it clear that no matter what your background is, UTEP can help you accomplish your dreams if you put in the time and effort.

What advice would you give to an incoming UTEP student? My advice to incoming students is to take advantage of all the different things UTEP has to offer. By this, I not only mean being an active member in student organizations, but also take advantage of the events going on such as concerts, plays, dance recitals, etc. I did not realize this when I was a freshman, but there are many different events to attend and general “things to do” here. Remember that school comes first, but this time in your life should also be enjoyable.

What is your best UTEP memory so far? My past two years at UTEP have been incredibly fulfilling and although it is difficult to select one UTEP memory, I would have to say it was Orange and Blue day on Feb. 4, 2017. This event serves as an open house where high school juniors and seniors and their friends and family learn more about life as a UTEP Miner. It was one of my first events serving as a UTEP Miner Ambassador, and it felt great to represent the diverse student body we have. I vividly remember interacting with dozens of prospective students (some of whom I now see walking around on campus) and other UTEP students volunteering their time to show their UTEP pride. The connections I made that day are truly unforgettable.