Student Spotlight-Olivia Arratia
Capturing Hope through Adversity
Olivia Arratia (TWU 2017) is a Terry Transfer Scholar and graduating senior, majoring in Photography with a concentration in Business. Olivia shared how she is being affected by our current COVID-19 climate:
“Life is going very slow for me right now. I am usually always on the go with a jam-packed busy schedule! So, this is definitely a change for me; working, attending classes, and completing assignments at home. I am a coffee-shop-library-studying kinda girl, so I have had to be patient with myself in a new learning environment. I also went through the heartbreak of not being able to walk across the stage for graduation this year and missing the Terry Scholars Picnic. All that being said, I am hopeful for the future. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have received as a Terry Scholar and TWU student, and my journey does not end here!”
“I also went through the heartbreak of not being able to walk across the stage for graduation this year and missing the Terry Scholars Picnic. All that being said, I am hopeful for the future.”
Reflecting on what led her to choose her major of Photography with a concentration in business, Olivia shared:
“Growing up in southern California exposed me to a love for the arts. I was surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the ocean, and much of my Catholic religion and Hispanic culture. I took my first photography class at my community college after my family and I moved to Dallas from California. I fell in love with the process of capturing a moment, place, or person in time. Through photography, I am able to express myself and help others express themselves too! I currently run my own photography business and hope one day to open up my own studio! My business classes at TWU have provided me with a firm foundation on business skills and entrepreneurship, and I continue to implement them as my business grows.”
Despite many of her senior experiences being unexpectedly cut-short, Olivia still accomplished a great deal this past year:
“I had a solo exhibition in the TWU Student U Gallery, and have had two of my art pieces featured in the 2019 John Weinkein Juried Student Art Exhibition, one winning 4th place. I am currently interning with The Highlands school in Dallas and have maintained a GPA of 4.0. This February, I had a solo exhibition in Hubbard Hall and two art pieces accepted into the Joyce Elaine Grant Lens Exhibition at TWU, and I married my high school sweetheart of six years!”
“I am so very grateful to have had two of my photographs in the 17th Annual Joyce Elaine
Grant Juried Exhibition! Both images come from the series ‘The Only Place’ titled ‘Café
con Margarita and Mango & Margarita’This show was juried by the amazing Lisa Sutcliffe!”
Source: Olivia’s Instagram- @olive_garden_
“My photo transfer book Hodie Sactorum got 4th place at the 2019 John Weinkein Juried Student Exhibition! It was also placed in the TWU Libraries permanent database for collection! Hodie Sactorum translated from Latin is ‘today’s saints.’ This book is dedicated to the faithful men and women of the Catholic Church existing after the 1880s. Photographs of saints are important to me because it represents them as what they are; Humans. Throughout their suffering they have kept Christ close to them and reached their ultimate goal, Heaven.”
Source: Olivia’s Instagram- @olive_garden_
Olivia spoke at the 2019 TWU Terry Banquet, providing words of hope and encouragement to her fellow Terry Scholars, her words were inspiring then and still ring true today, especially given this unprecedented time in our country:
“Oftentimes, I ask myself, why me? Why did the Terry Foundation choose me out of all the students who were interviewed? I still may struggle with this question when self-doubt enters. But one thing I know is they chose me because they believed in me, more than I believed in myself. The same goes for you: The Terry foundation chose you because they believed in you. Every one of you was chosen because the foundation knew you would succeed. They recognized your hardships and victories, saw your strengths AND your weaknesses and believed in you.”
“Every one of you was chosen because the foundation knew you would succeed. They recognized your hardships and victories, saw your strengths AND your weaknesses and believed in you.”
“Know that the road to success is never easy, there will be obstacles, downfalls, sadness, and trials that will make you want to give up. Just remember that you are never alone. From leaving an abusive roommate situation, losing my grandmother to stage four cancer, and dealing with depression, these past three years have been a challenge. However, I knew I could always lean on my Terry family for support and help. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” No matter how crazy this semester will get, don’t let anyone or anything take away the greatness you are able to achieve. The Terry Foundation saw your greatness, believed in you and knew you would succeed.”
Olivia with her grandmother
Olivia with her five siblings
In closing, Olivia shared the following sentiments for her fellow Terry Scholars:
“I look forward to the day when we can all go out and give each other hugs and no more elbow-fives! There is a bigger plan for us all, and I pray every day for all of those that have been affected by the virus, and those who are putting their lives in danger to protect ours.”
Student Spotlight – David Huerta
The Impact of Service : Inspiring Greatness in Others
David Huerta (UTEP 2017), is a Senior and Terry Transfer Scholar majoring in Kinesiology, with a minor in Education. He shares how he has been giving back and embodying the Terry Foundation Pillar of Service:
“I embody the Pillar of Service by understanding and being willing to help others, especially the youth within my community. As a Coach and future educator, I’m in a position where I get to interact with many kids and serve as a mentor/role model to them. I take pride in being the most positive and effective role model that I can be in order to see each kid grow as an individual and succeed with their goals in life. It all started about ten years ago, when I first began volunteering with Judson Youth Sports Federation (JYSF) for football and basketball. I wasn’t even old enough to become certified, but I [wanted] to help as much as I could – with anything that I could. I look forward to any opportunity that may present itself, that gives me the chance to continue to grow and help others within the community.”
“[When I was] growing up, the most valuable lessons that I learned all came through sports, and the coaches that I’ve had were some of the best mentors I had ever encountered. Sometimes, kids feel like they may not have that person to help teach them the small things, and with coaching, I have the opportunity to help them grow into young adults and be there for them when they might not have anyone else. The impact I believe I am making with those that I work with is being able to lead by example and show them that with hard work, they can achieve goals that they may have thought were just dreams.”
“Sometimes, kids feel like they may not have that person to help teach them the small things, and with coaching, I have the opportunity to help them grow into young adults and be there for them when they might not have anyone else.”
“The quote that I really embrace is Kobe Bryant’s, ‘The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.’ As a coach, future educator, and someone who is constantly working with others, this quote fits with [my personal mantra of] aim, achieve, and conquer… They both are about pushing through and really working to be great, not being afraid to be different in all aspects of life.”
David also highlighted moments throughout his journey when he was most impacted by the support of his fellow scholars and the Terry Foundation:
“Some of the most impactful moments that I have experienced as a Terry are going through a couple [of] key losses, including a major car accident, the loss of my former player, and the loss of my grandmother. While being so far from my immediate family … in San Antonio, it was a few members of my family along with members of the Terry family who helped me with anything I may have needed… . I really want to thank Corey Bailey, Christen Barron, and Christian Corrales for being there for me during those tough times. That was when I knew that the Terry Foundation, and those in it, are people who you want in your corner, because they really care, and … it has brought me closer with a few of my fellow Terrys.”
David, on being chosen as a Terry Scholar and how it has changed his story:
“As a Terry Scholar, I have been able to continue to show many people, [including] kids, that the hard work I have put in over the years does pay off. My family, those within JYSF, the Terry Foundation [and others], will always be a part of my story as I continue to move forward with life and strive to be the best person, educator, coach, mentor, and inspiration to others that I can possibly be.”
Student Spotlight – Forough Askarirad
The Importance of Being Seen: Advocating for Mental Health
Traditional Terry Scholar and Psychology major Forough Askarirad (UTSA 2018) recently planned and hosted the first Mental Health Day at UTSA. In planning this event, Forough drew upon a wide range of skills, one being leadership—a pillar of The Terry Foundation.
“I embody the Pillar of Leadership by taking the initiative to create change on UTSA’s campus and empowering students to seek support when they need it,” Forough states.
“Mental Health Day at UTSA was a 7-month long project that included planning, coordinating, communicating, mapping, advertising, and working with organizations, students, professors, and professionals. Working alongside a variety of people allowed me to not only grow skills for what it takes to construct an event but grow as person as well. I was unsure of what I was getting myself into at first, but I now know that my limits can be pushed further and further after having this experience and the support of the Terry Scholars.”
Forough and fellow Terry Scholars at UTSA’s Mental Health Day
“I am very happy with how the first Mental Health Day at UTSA turned out, we had over 100 students attend the tabling event and the discussion that followed! I do plan to make this an annual event, because I truly believe it will help shift the conversations we are having about mental health and end the stigma associated with it!”
Forough shared how she has used this experience, among others, in fulfilling her commitment to give back:
“As the Director of Public Relations in our Terry Scholars Student Organization and creating Mental Health Day at UTSA, I have gained many skills that have helped me grow and become a more well-rounded individual. Through this work, I am continuing Mr. Terry’s legacy of giving back to the community by advocating for mental health resources and taking leadership positions which allow me to work directly with Terry Scholars of all walks of life”.
Leadership and Service are integral parts of giving back, the pledge a Terry Scholar. Equally important is the pillar of Scholarship; Forough shared what she is doing today that encompasses this pillar of excellence:
“Another exciting achievement was becoming a Gilman Scholar and having the opportunity to study abroad in Europe. As I am typing up this response, I am reflecting back on the past week that I have been studying abroad in Urbino, Italy. Having the opportunity to walk the streets of Urbino, while learning the culture and language of Italy and taking upper-division courses in Psychology, has opened up my eyes and given me a new perspective on life. This experience has already taught me so much and I am incredibly eager for the months to come!”
Being chosen as a Terry Scholar has a powerful impact on the life of every student—Forough shared her story:
“Becoming a Terry Scholar has changed my life forever. I have been blessed to be able to receive this honor, and [to] be the first person in my family to receive a college degree. Thinking back to when I was a refugee who felt so lost in an unfamiliar world, compared to the person I have grown into now, inspires me to push forward for my family now, and for my future family as well… Being a Terry Scholar means that I have been seen, heard, and given the chance to make a difference in the world, no matter how small…”
“Thinking back to when I was a refugee who felt so lost in an unfamiliar world, compared to the person I have grown into now, inspires me to push forward for my family…”
In closing, Forough shared some words of wisdom that she draws upon in her life that truly speak to the essence of how being chosen as a Terry Scholar has impacted her:
“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.” ― Alan Turing
Student Spotlight – Johnny Amar-Martinez
Embodying Scholarship & Leading with Gratitude
“Give yourself a chance to succeed by losing the fear of failing”–sound advice from traditional Terry Scholar, Johnny Amar-Martinez (TAMU 2016), a Senior and Chemical Engineering major, with a minor in Environmental Geoscience. When asked what his favorite part of his Terry university is, Johnny said: “I love the culture and the camaraderie of Aggies. The power of the Aggie Network, even as a student, is strong and uplifting”.
How is Johnny fulfilling his Terry commitment to give back?
“I started by becoming an Officer in the [Terry] Student Organization my Freshman Year. I felt so excited for the opportunity to offer some of my free time to the Foundation so early and to display my gratitude for the gift I had been given. I had such a great time that year and was so deeply transformed that I decided to do it every year since then. I have [striven] to empower other Terry Scholars and to offer advice to those aspiring to become Terry Scholars in order to preserve the quality of the Terry Scholar community. I have accepted the offer to sit on an interview panel this spring and look forward to more opportunities in the future to give back. I will forever be indebted to the Terry Foundation”.
Johnny shared how he is able to lead and excel academically, while also ensuring that the next group of TAMU Terry leaders are successful:
“Since coming to college, my perspective on what it means to be a leader has changed drastically. This year, my idea of being a leader means prioritizing my time efficiently, being available when I am needed, and following-through on the tasks I take on. By doing this, I believe that I am setting a positive example to everyone around me and showing them that it is possible to excel at the goals you set for yourself while also treating everyone, and their time, with respect.”
“…I try to empower the people I work with and cultivate strong, individualized relationships with each of them to ensure that they feel supported and significant. I believe that everyone has a unique skill they bring to a team and that we can learn something new from everyone: we just have to be open to identifying that and listening to them.”
An additional part of being a Terry Scholar is the example one sets via the Pillar of Scholarship. When asked how he has embodied this pillar, Johnny reflected on his experience abroad this past summer:
“This year I embodied the Foundation’s Pillar of Scholarship by dedicating time to my education and immersing myself in learning-dense environments. I interned this past summer at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in a Statistical Thermodynamics and Molecular Simulation Laboratory where I did research among PhD candidates. …I found myself thoroughly enjoying the learning process and learning just for the sake of learning. As a second-generation American, I was taught the importance of education from a young age, and I think that this year I really started to understand and implement what it was my parents have always wanted for me with the support of the Terry Foundation”.
Every Terry Scholar has a story—one that, no doubt, includes the notion that this scholarship goes far beyond a “check in the mail”. When asked how becoming a Terry Scholar has altered his family’s story, and what it means to him, Johnny shared the following:
“My parents moved to Texas…from California in order to give a better life to my siblings and I. As a kid, I was slightly resentful toward them for this decision because Texas was so hot, and we didn’t have a lot of family around us. When I got the Terry Scholarship, I finally began to understand why they did it. As the youngest of all of my first cousins, I watched each of them, for one reason or another, not go to college.”
“As a second-generation American, I didn’t want the same situation for myself because I didn’t want to feel like I was ‘wasting’ my American Dream. Without the Terry Scholarship, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do that. Now, I have the great opportunity to inspire the next generation of my family to also go to college. I get to lead by example for them of how you can choose your own path despite the barriers that are in front of you. My family was given a second chance at the prospect of going to college because of the Terry Scholarship being awarded to me”.
“Being a Terry Scholar to me, means everything. I was a semifinalist for another scholarship that I ended up not receiving, so [at first] I was really discouraged. The Terry Scholarship was my lifeline to go to college. After that, attending college had more of a purpose to me because there was a community of people behind me, most of whom I hadn’t even met yet, rooting for my success. Since then, it has meant being studious in my classes and offering help where I can, leading other students toward a common goal, offering mentorship and advice to those in need, and living a life inspired by service and giving back to my community. College is such a transformative time in everyone’s life, and I am so grateful for the positive impact the Terry Foundation has had on me as an individual.”