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Vocation Vacations: A Summer of Discovery

Last Updated on October 01, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Originally published October 01, 2018

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Summer vacation has long been synonymous with relaxation and long days of fun in the sun, but for some students at The University of Texas at El Paso it was an opportunity to expand their horizons and knowledge by taking part in internships, study abroad programs and research experiences locally, nationally and abroad.

Multiple students across disciplines saw summer as a vacation from the classroom and time to explore real-world possibilities reflective of their academic or career goals. What they got out of their experiences was transformative and left a lasting impression. Each student documented their summer adventure and reflected on their personal experience in their own words. Here are a few of their stories.

Flor and Rick Acevedo

Rick and Rocio Acevedo: Understanding the Impact of Religion

Doctoral students, College of Education

“The main academic purpose of the Peer Summer Institute at Yale University was to learn about the historical development of African and Middle Eastern religions, and about how ancient and contemporary religious practices influenced and continue to influence the daily lives in those regions."

Read Rick and Rocio’s story here

Sairy Cohen Cruz

Brenda C. Baca: Part of the Mosquito Team in Panama

Senior, Clinical Laboratory Sciences

“This summer I had the opportunity to participate in research in Panama City, Panama, thanks to the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program. My research focused on the interaction between Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two mosquitoes that transmit dengue, zika, and chikungunya.”

Read Brenda’s story here

Dina Edens

Julio Ceniceros: Exploring the Arctic

Master's student, Environmental Science

“Dimly lit with the morning sun, the Arctic Ocean is a place full of peace and mystery. I feel the cold air on my face and each rumble of the sea ice splitting beneath me with the immense weight of the icebreaker steaming at 14 knots deeper into the chilly unknown. I take a moment and take it all in. My eyes get watery with the overwhelming sensation of happiness and curiosity, but I quickly transport myself back to reality when I feel my moist tear ducts starting to freeze with the icy wind. I wonder how it is possible for microscopic bacteria found deep in the ocean to have such huge impacts on the atmosphere above.”

Read Julio’s story here


Sofia Del Toro-Chavez: Risk Management in the Big Apple

Sophomore, Finance - Risk Management Concentration

“As part of the Prudential Risk Management Academy in the UTEP College of Business Administration, I had the opportunity to visit Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, as well as New York Life Insurance Company in New York, New York, this summer.”

Read Sofia’s story here

Humberto Perez Monge

Lorena Garcia: Impacting Public Policy at the Nation’s Capital

Doctoral student, Educational Leadership and Foundations

“I am a doctoral student with UTEP’s Educational Leadership and Foundations Program, which has prepared me to conduct research in critical education issues such as the traumatic effects of family separation on learning.”

Read Lorena’s story here

Paola Perez

Ruta Grinceviciute: Expanding Research at NC State University

Senior, Biological Sciences

“Driven by curiosity and in search of more knowledge, I wanted to get outside UTEP this summer and explore new laboratories. North Carolina State University provided me with this unique opportunity, and the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program made it happen.”

Read Ruta’s story here

Briana Pinales

Katie Harding: Embracing the Arts at the American Dance Festival

Senior, Communication Studies

“This summer I participated in the American Dance Festival (ADF) in Durham, North Carolina. This festival has played an important role in the advancement of modern dance since its inception, and it continues to promote the development of emerging artists. I understood the festival’s reputation when I applied for the internship, but I never anticipated the impact ADF would have on my perspective of the industry and my own career path.”

Read Katie’s story here

Luz Porras

Carlos Alejandro Lujan: Discovering Purpose at the Better Business Bureau Paso del Norte

Senior, Marketing

“This summer I was lucky enough to intern at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Paso del Norte as a marketing associate. We started at the end of spring with a big event called the Torch Awards, where small and big businesses all around El Paso got together to celebrate ethics and trusted marketplace. I was in charge of creating the program for the event as well as the newspaper ads to promote it. The Torch Awards was a success, and I was part of it.”

Read Carlos’s story here

Hugo A. Rodriguez Gonzalez

Laura M. Navarro: My London Experience

Junior, History

“It always was my dream to visit London, England, to see such iconic landmarks as Big Ben, the London Eye Ferris wheel and London Bridge. I am a junior history major who had never gone outside the country, not even to Juárez, Mexico.”

Read Laura’s story here


Clarissa Rasberry: Spain as the Classroom

Senior, Rehabilitation Sciences

“I had no idea what to expect studying abroad. This was my first time, and I didn’t think I would ever study abroad given my circumstances. I am a single, working mom trying to do better for my kids and myself.” 

Read Clarissa's story here


Katalina Salas: Going Green in Peru

Doctoral student, Environmental Science and Engineering

“I had the opportunity to visit three very different locations this summer! These places were filled with vibrant culture, biodiverse habitats and landscapes, but all had brilliant environments for imagination and learning.”

Read Katalina's story here


Mauricio Andres Violante: Big Experiences at Texas Instruments

Senior, Electrical Engineering

“This summer I had the privilege of interning at one of the top global semiconductor design and manufacturing companies in the world — Texas Instruments (TI).”

Read Mauricio's story here