Isaac Ortega, a senior in communication studies and public relations & strategic communication from Abilene, Texas, has been named Banner Bearer for the College of Media & Communication for Spring Commencement. Ortega is a first-generation student, and he hopes to pursue graduate degrees one day.
The Banner Bearer title is a culmination of academic success, extracurricular perseverance, and professionalism. Although the halls of CoMC are filled with students striving for their best, only one can lead the procession on commencement day. And although Ortega will do the honor of leading the procession, he credits almost everyone but himself.
“I credit my success to my mentors,” Ortega said. “I think this college is amazing with the amount of hands-on things you can do. Also, the amount of people who really care about pushing you to your skills and pulling out your strengths.”
Ortega began his college career as a psychology major, but the community and spirit of CoMC drew his attention. After a few visits to the college and some conversations with one of his favorite mentors, former advisor Stacy Elliott, he was hooked.
“I wasn't even aware I had advisors for my psychology degree, and [Elliott] was treating me like her own student every time I was in the building,” Ortega said. “As soon as I realized this, I switched my major to [communication studies].”
Once he became a part of CoMC, Ortega spread his attention between classes and student organizations such as Public Relations Student Society Association, Hispanic Student Society, and Communication Studies Association. However, Ortega's greatest time commitment—and largest hurdle—were the full-time jobs he worked to fund himself through college.
“I had to work my butt off,” Ortega said. “No way around it. I did doubles if I needed to, then I'd go straight to the library and be there until 2 a.m. depending on the night.”
Ortega faced a variety of struggles in his quest to complete a college degree. Not only did he end up completing the degree, but he will finish as the top student of his class and a double-major—and he decided he might as well get a minor in psychology, seeing as that's where it all began.
Although Ortega found himself in numerous situations leading him to contemplate dropping out, he would not change anything about the journey bringing him to Banner Bearer.
“It was so taxing and tolling, but when I got notified of the Banner Bearer, there was so much pride,” Ortega said. “The greatest gift you can give yourself is never giving up.”
Throughout the entirety of his college career, Ortega says his favorite moment was telling his mom about the Banner Bearer and seeing her reaction.
As for what's next for Ortega, there are multiple options on the table. However, he claims one thing is certain for the future:
“Dr. Ortega sounds nice.”