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#WhatStartsHere: Zeeshan Parpia, Gateway Scholars President

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image of student Meet Zeeshan Parpia, a finance/political communication senior who is in the business of helping people. As president of the Gateway Scholars program, he’s leading a team of mentors who are helping their fellow undergraduates thrive in their first year of college. We caught up with him to learn more about his good work—and how he’s helping students successfully transition into college life.

Activities: President, LCAE Gateway Scholars; Mentor, LCAE Gateway Scholars; Mentor, First-Year Interest Group; Phi Alpha Delta

Opening access…While in high school, Parpia connected with a mentor at church who helped low-income students get into the college-going mindset. Inspired by his mentor’s good work, Parpia aims to expand this knowledge to a larger audience. “If we have the ability to make change, we can’t keep it to ourselves or only make it available at church. At the end of the day, we want to provide access and help everyone succeed so the community as a whole can thrive.”

Coming full circle…
Parpia understands the value of mentoring and hopes to inspire more students to come full circle in the program and become mentors themselves. “We know how to help students succeed because we took the same classes not too long ago. It’s also easier for us to connect because we’re only a year or two apart in age. The main goal is to make that transition as a freshman easier.”

Digging deep…Going into the program, Parpia wanted to make some new friends and start off his first year of college on the right foot. Not only did he surpass his goals, he also discovered his life’s passion. “I found out what I’m meant to do. I like helping people—and I want to make a real connection and help them achieve their goals.”

Playing the numbers game…Parpia’s best piece of advice for incoming freshmen? “Don’t worry about the GPA. Focus on taking your time and learning from your classes. Study hard and be passionate about what you’re learning. It’s key to absorb the knowledge so it will stick with you in the future when you go into the workforce.”

Lessons in leadership… As Gateway Scholars president, he has gained some valuable lessons about upper-level management. “I’ve learned how to adapt to other people’s leadership styles, personalities and goals—and how to make sure their needs are being met. You never know what kind of an impact you’re making on their lives. My mentor probably has no idea how much of an impact he has made on me.”

Life after UT… Though the future is not yet set in stone, Parpia is sure about one thing. He wants to go into the business of helping people. “I can see myself working as a financial consultant or advisor and help companies, corporations and entrepreneurs achieve their career or life goals.”

More about the Gateway Scholars program: One of the largest student success programs at UT Austin, Gateway Scholars helps students of all disciplines transition to and through college. The program’s offerings include peer mentoring, signature courses, study abroad opportunities, academic and professional workshops, free tutoring and more. Visit this website to learn more.