Tuesday, August 04, 2015

UTSA Commencement Close-Up: Viridiana Estrada, Honors College

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(Dec. 16, 2013) -- Meet Viridiana Estrada. She's building a research career with the help of UTSA neuroscientists.

While a student at John Marshall High School, Estrada earned automatic admission to UT-Austin. Despite being accepted at various universities, she ultimately decided on UTSA, opting to remain close to her San Antonio family.

"What I really liked about UTSA -- it's something that I didn't realize at first," Estrada recalls. "I liked that there are a lot of great researchers to work with and learn from here, especially those in the Neurosciences Institute."

And Estrada is taking advantage of every opportunity.

The undergraduate is pursuing a psychology degree, medical courses and highest honors through the UTSA Honors College. To achieve those goals, she's intensely focused on academics.

She's also taking advantage of UTSA's access to great research opportunities such as the MBRS-RISE program and the McNair Scholars program. Under the supervision of UTSA neuroscientist Nicole Wicha, Estrada has learned how to use event-related potentials to study how older Spanish-speaking adults predict language. Her findings are presented in her honors thesis.

Outside of the classroom, the undergraduate has networked with UTSA researchers and students through Neuroscientists Evolving Undergraduate Research Opportunities (NEURO), the Neuroscience Institute's student organization.

Though seemingly disparate, Estrada's collective experiences at UTSA prepared her for a career-altering placement in a summer research program offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She applied to work in one of two laboratories, but fate placed her in a third.

That summer, Estrada learned how to implant cannula into the ventral medial prefrontal cortices of rats, a surgical procedure that allows researchers to manipulate and study the rats' eating patterns in response to various chemicals such as amphetamines. The technique merged Estrada's academic interests, calling her attention to a new career path in neurosurgical research.

"Since I've been little, I've always been involved in learning," she says. "Science has that ability to lead you to more learning. Science builds the foundation for increasing knowledge."

She now hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. to fully pursue a neurosurgical research career. She admits it won't be an easy road, because so much more education is required, but she says she's determined to weather the challenge because she knows now from experience that a career in neurosurgical research is exactly what she wants.

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Do you know a fascinating UTSA student who is planning to graduate in May 2014? Share that story with us at news@utsa.edu.

 

 

Did You Know?

For acclaimed UTSA writer, poetry rhymes with life

Robert Penn Warren said: “How do poems grow? They grow out of your life.” That is certainly true for Carmen Tafolla. An associate professor of practice with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, Tafolla has authored more than 20 acclaimed books of poetry and prose, including "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans." It won the Tom´s Rivera Children’s Book Award in 2009.

Tafolla is a San Antonio native who grew up on the West Side. Attending a private high school, she realized that the literature did not positively portray her community or the people who lived there. She determined to change that in her writing. In published works for both adults and children — more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks and readers in four languages — Tafolla reflects on the rich Mexican-American culture of San Antonio in which she grew up.

Did you know? Tafolla was San Antonio's first Poet Laureate, from 2012 to 2014, and currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Texas.

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Events
Aug. 4, 6 - 8 p.m.

Free Teacher Tuesday: Los Tejanos Workshop

Discover resources and strategies for teaching Tejano history and culture and get a special educator's tour of the new long-term exhibit, Los Tejanos.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 6, 5 - 7 p.m.; 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

6th Annual Texas Higher Education Symposium

This annual symposium is an opportunity to discuss Texas higher education issues and trends with Texas higher education scholars, state and local government officials, students, and campus and local community members.
Downtown Campus

Aug. 9, 12 - 5 p.m.

Vaquerocation 2015

This cowboy-themed programming, offered in conjunction with Our Kids Magazine's Kidcation Week, gives families the opportunity to visit with cowboy docents, enjoy readings and visit activity tables.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 17, 11:30 p.m.

Midnight Light

Join President Ricardo Romo, The Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band, students, faculty and staff to light the monument at the Main Campus entrance at the stroke of midnight.
John Peace Boulevard Entrance, Main Campus

Aug. 18, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Plaza

Join university President Ricardo Romo on the Bill Miller Plaza for his annual free BBQ lunch.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus

Aug. 18, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Lawn

Join university President Ricardo Romo on the Convocation Center lawn for his annual free BBQ lunch.
Convocation Center East Lawn, Main Campus

Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

UTSA Alumni Gala

The UTSA Alumni Association hosts this annual gala honoring the Alumna of the Year, Alumnus of the Year and the Alumnus of the Year Lifetime Achievement award winners.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr.


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Meet a Roadrunner

Ernest Bromley '78, '80 one of UTSA's first students, takes on the world

Shrugging off retirement, the Bromley founder plans to earn a PhD and complete a 375-mile race

UTSA's Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

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