Sophia Ozuna Ortiz
Sophia Ozuna Ortiz at the UTSA Downtown Campus

Commencement Close-up: Sophia Ozuna Ortiz

By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist

(May 10, 2006)--Sophia Ozuna Ortiz believes higher education offers better opportunities. It is this conviction that drove her to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology from UTSA in 2004, and now, a master's degree in sociology.

"I want to set the example -- be educated," Ozuna Ortiz said. "I want to break that barrier for the next generation."

Ozuna Ortiz, a 36-year-old mother of two sons ages nine and 14, grew up on the city's West Side and is a first-generation college graduate.

She said her family members at times have fallen prey to scams, paid for services they didn't need, or not claimed benefits they had earned, all of this, because they were intimidated by a bureaucratic process they didn't understand.

"I'm able to stand up for things," Ozuna Ortiz said. "And the education I've earned, no one can take away."

While studying, Ozuna Ortiz has worked with Harriett Romo, associate professor of sociology and director of the UTSA Mexico Center, to administer UTSA grants for Head Start programs.

Ozuna Ortiz also oversees the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) Bilingual Infant Language Acquisition Research Project at UTSA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Navarro Early Childhood Development Center, and the Rockefeller Foundation's Transnational Lives in San Antonio Research Project.

Harriett Romo, associate professor of sociology and director of the UTSA Mexico Center, said Ozuna Ortiz is exemplary of the many highly motivated, hardworking young women at UTSA.

"She works full time in a demanding job, is raising two sons and carries a full academic course load," Romo said. "She is always reaching out to other students to help and support them. Her enthusiasm for learning and for life rubs off on all of the people she touches. We are very proud of her as a UTSA graduate."

Ozuna Ortiz plans to continue seeking out educational grants to help underserved students follow in her higher education footsteps.

"I'm not done yet," she adds. "I'm applying to Ph.D. programs."

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