Elizabeth Leyva-Pacheco, class of 2014
Credits Texas Tech for helping her stay in touch with her Mexican heritage
Six years ago Elizabeth Leyva-Pacheco first came to the U.S. as an au pair from Oaxaca,
Mexico. After a year of working with a family in Frisco, TX, she decided to remain
in the U.S. and obtain an Associate's degree in science from Collin College in Dallas,
TX. She then came to Texas Tech University for a Bachelor's degree.
Last May, Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Energy Commerce accompanied by a Minor in Economics. She currently works at Pioneer Natural Resources in Midland, TX, as part of the Joint Interest Billing team. “My biggest obstacle as an international student was finding a company that would hire me regardless of my immigration status,” she says. She explained that citizenship or permanent residency was required even to be allowed to submit a resume. Despite the challenges of finding a job, Elizabeth was fortunate enough to land a job with Pioneer Natural Resources and reports that the staff has been very welcoming. “I will always be grateful to the people who helped me get through rough times and who kept me positive whenever I was about to give up on myself and my goals,” says Elizabeth.
Although she was successful academically, life as an international student was not always easy. Mastering a new language was both challenging and crucial to her success. As Elizabeth looks back, she says that “in order to succeed as an international student it is necessary to adapt to a different culture and a different style of life,” and she points out that this goes well beyond mastering a new language. “It is important to remember your priorities in school and never to forget where you come from, your cultural identity, and be proud of it.”
Q. You say that Tech helped you remain in touch with your Mexican heritage. Were there specific organizations or work experiences that helped you maintain your cultural identity while you were a student at Texas Tech?
“Various organizations helped me stay in touch with my culture. One in particular
was Unidos por un Mismo Idioma (UMI), which I joined in 2012. I soon became a UMI
officer and met people from several different nationalities –many from the Hispanic
culture, but also many who wanted to learn about our culture. I enjoyed so much participating
in Día de los Muertos where I dressed like Catrina [the female calavera created by
illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada]. Día de los Muertos is one of
my favorite events at Texas Tech because of the rich traditions, the food, and the
different activities like making sugar skulls. I participated in one of the ICC's
Día de los Muertos programs for high school students where I once again dressed up
as Catrina and answered questions about my culture. I also participated in events
such as UMI's tribute to Cesar Chavez. In UMI we often planned events to increase
the bond between our members such as hiking trips to Palo Duro Canyon State Park or
salsa nights where we would teach the basic steps of the dance.
Working as a tutor at the Learning Center was also a rewarding experience. People would come in with questions about the Spanish language, which helped me stay in touch with my grammar, because it is easy to forget the rules of a language when we don't practice it very often. The staff and other tutors at the Learning Center were extremely nice, bright people who understood and appreciated my culture, and the students who came with questions were very appreciative of my help.”
Q. Were there other organizations and activities at Texas Tech that made you feel welcome and also helped you professionally?
“Many organizations at Texas Tech made me feel welcomed, and joining this amazing
university was one of the best decisions of my life. An organization that helped me
professionally was the selective business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. I became an officer
in this organization, and we organized different professional events that helped me
branch out and prepare myself for a professional life after college. This organization
helped me tremendously, especially in my circumstances as an international student.
All members were Business students, and we looked out for each other's success. I
also helped co-found the Tech Economic Association which focused more on economic
aspects of the world and brought in speakers for our members to help prepare them
for their future careers.
Mentor Tech played a crucial role in my success as well. This organization is amazing! I had the opportunity to learn so much about how to prepare a resume, how to meet and talk with business professionals, and how to network. My mentor Jeffrey Harper was a great source of motivation. When I had tough times in school he always showed his support and encouraged me to fight for what I deserved and not be content to settle for less.
I also have to mention the ICC and the advisors that guided me through every step of my experience as an international student. They gave me the resources that I needed to be able to be successful in classes, taught me about O.P.T. and the different options I had after graduation, and many more things for which I am so grateful.”
Coming to the U.S. opened doors not only to personal, but also to professional opportunities for Elizabeth. As she thanks the good people who supported her through her journey, she states, “ I hope that other students who are going through hard times might read my story and be motivated to keep going and never give up. It is easier said than done, I know, but we need to remember that ‘from here, it's possible.' I am nothing but grateful to my Mexican family as well as to my American family and friends, and to Texas Tech University for making my dreams come true. Muchas gracias for making this possible. Guns up Red Raiders!”