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Commencement Spotlight: Edgar Ibarra acquired work ethic by helping dad in the family business

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(April 22, 2015) -- Meet Edgar Ibarra. He knows that working hard and stepping out of one's comfort zone is the key to being successful.

One could argue that entrepreneurship runs in his blood. His grandfather ran a small dairy farm and brick company in Mexico. His father learned from his grandfather the importance of having a tireless work ethic. Together, they started a bus company that operates successfully today in Sabinas, Mexico.

"This is where my story comes in," says Ibarra with a sly grin. "Ever since I was a little boy, I helped my father run his bus company."

Ibarra recounts the time his father went on a vacation and left him in charge of the company for a week at the mere age of 16.

"My father wanted to instill the ideal in me that you have to work hard to be successful, that you have to persevere, that it won't be easy, but that you have to keep going and have commitment and passion in order to do better in life; and while my father taught me those principles, my mother taught me the importance of always having a positive mental attitude."

When it came time for Ibarra to consider college, many of his friends chose to go to Tecnológico de Monterrey. But due to the circumstances Mexico was going through at that time, Ibarra started researching other universities and landed on UTSA because of its impressive world rankings and the strong reputation of its College of Business.

"UTSA really gives you the tools to be successful in life," he shared. "If you're willing to get out of your comfort zone and use those tools, you can accomplish so much."

During his freshman year at UTSA, Ibarra came across Southwestern Advantage, a company that offers college students summer internships in which they sell educational products door-to-door in different areas of the country. It's a rigorous program that requires 80 hours of work a week and lots of rejection. But it also boasts that it helps young people gain the skills and character they need to reach their goals and, not to mention, an average paycheck of $8,000 per summer.

It isn't for everyone, but Ibarra was immediately intrigued. The money wasn't even a selling point.

"I decided to do it in order to prove to my Dad that I could work as hard as he did as a kid. So my goal was really emotional," he shared. "And that first summer was definitely tough, but what I learned is that if I want to be a successful entrepreneur, I have to keep knocking."

That first summer he got everything out of the program that the company promised – better communication skills, facing rejection, facing fear, perseverance and the power of commitment – and made $12,000 doing it.

With the money, he bought two cars and started a car rental company in his hometown of Sabinas. Since then he's grown the company to five cars and put others in charge of daily operations.

Ibarra has stayed involved with Southwestern Advantage, helping recruit other UTSA students and training the recruiters. He's worked hard to leave a legacy at UTSA so that the company is able to continue changing the lives of Roadrunners.

In the fall 2014, Ibarra won first place in the College of Business "Million Dollar Idea" pitch competition.

The same semester, he competed with a team of engineering students in the UTSA $100K Student Technology Venture Competition that won first place for their prototype sleep apnea device and business plan.

After Ibarra graduates, he plans to continue working with iSleepTech to help get the company and its product off the ground toward commercialization.

One thing that's certain is that Ibarra has developed the skills and character to be successful in life. After all, his motto is: "Success is never owned. It is rented. And the rent is due every day."

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