August 10, 2016//
Meet Jorge Pena-Marin. He's a former professional tennis player now pursuing his passion for research at UTSA.
I looked at so many schools, but none of them really spoke to me the way UTSA did.”
– Jorge Pena-Marin
A native of Madrid, Spain, Pena-Marin began playing tennis as a toddler.
"Growing up, there wasn't anything I liked more than playing tennis," he said. "I knew this was what I was going to do with my life."
He began playing professionally in tournaments when he was still a teenager but was forced to quit when he was 19, after breaking his ankle during a match.
"It was a difficult time," he said. "I felt a little lost. I had never really considered doing anything else for a career."
Pena-Marin had always been a good student and decided to pursue a college degree in business in his home country. After graduation, he worked for a number of advertising agencies and marketing firms, but nothing really captured his interest the way tennis had.
"I decided to pursue a master's degree, and finally I found another true calling," he said. "I discovered I could do research and explore how markets evolve and why people make decisions. It was fascinating, and I wanted to contribute to that conversation."
Having always held onto a dream of studying in the United States, Pena-Marin began to look at universities with strong research programs to earn his Ph.D.
"I looked at so many schools, but none of them really spoke to me the way UTSA did," he said. "The research being conducted at the College of Business fascinated me. I knew I could grow and become much better here. Plus, San Antonio is such a culturally diverse city, and I just felt at home."
Pena-Marin, now 40 years old, is in the final year of his Ph.D. program. In his four years at UTSA, he's begun research with the Department of Marketing's support on a wide range of topics: from video game marketing methods to how different types of numbers can influence a consumer's decisions. His work has already been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
He also teaches UTSA undergraduates and even won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award last year.
"The students here are so brilliant and driven to achieve," he said. "They're one of the reasons I want to stay in higher education."
He's now looking ahead to becoming a professor and continuing his marketing research after he completes his Ph.D. But he says that tennis still informs his life, even though it didn't end up becoming his career.
"Tennis by far has had the most impact on who I am and how I approach things," Pena-Marin said. "I'm competitive, but I don't focus on what I can't control. That serves me well at UTSA. Here, we play our game and we do our best."
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.