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Longhorn Scholars' Stories

Name: Robert A. Valdez
Hometown: San Antonio
Major: Social Work
Classification: Senior

What are your post-graduation plans?
I was accepted in Our Lady of the Lake University for the Masters of Business Administration in Management, which I will be starting in August.

What impact have your study abroad experiences had?
I studied abroad last year with the Social Work Maymester in London. We learned about the roots of diversity and social justice issues, and this class inspired me and influenced my feelings about non-profits and international affairs. We got to visit the first organization that was ever created to help those in need and started the life of Social Work. I knew after I stepped out of that organization I would only want to do the same and create this new world of non-profits. Every unique encounter I made in London also gave me the strength to learn what it takes to achieve any challenge in life and know that anything is capable.

I also just received, for the second time, a full scholarship of $5000 to study abroad in Ghana this upcoming May. I applied to Africa not knowing if I would be strong enough to take on the challenge, but knew in the end I would be, with the support of my family and friends.

How does will your upcoming trip fit into your future plans?
This brand new Maymester was created to help and implement new ideas through organizations we will be working with in Africa. This is exactly what I want to do with my Social Work degree and MBA. I want to work with non-profits across the world, help those in need with this economic crisis we all face, and make life easier for those who do not have a voice and need some advocacy.

What has your experience at UT been like?
Life at UT Austin has been amazing for me. The past three and half years have been incredible as I found myself and knew I wanted to help people in a tremendous way. Social Work and Business is where I found my heart and home by the help of many individuals. The past few months, though, have been a rollercoaster for me. I was faced with death when I lost control of my vehicle and slammed into a guardrail at 60 mph. Luckily, I walked out with just a scratch on my eyebrow. After this accident, I knew life was too short and not an option, but a gift. My luck changed real fast after the accident, not by coincidence, but rather by my new determination. I learned life was too short so I lived my life as if it was my last days!