While attending Weslaco High School in the Rio Grande Valley, Mario Guerra participated in the McCombs Future Executives Academy, a summer program that gave him a feel for college life on the Forty Acres. After seeing all the opportunities UT Austin has to offer, he made it his mission to get into the McCombs School of Business and earn his MBA.
Now a junior majoring in economics and business management, he is well on his way to achieving his dream and wants to pave the road to success for more students from the RGV. We caught up with him to learn more about his good work with the RGV Familia program, which provides a home-away-from-home community for students from Texas border towns. Read on to learn more about his good work—and how he enjoys celebrating his family traditions and customs during Hispanic Heritage Month and all year long.
What do you love most about being a part of the RGV Familia?
This is a way to offer students a little sanctuary on this big campus and to give them a taste of back home. It’s great to have this community where people look out for one another, and to have this space on campus where people speak the same language and enjoy similar things. Soccer is a big thing in the RGV, so it’s nice to watch games together and cheer on our favorite teams like we do back in the valley. I’m just happy to be able to present this community to students and to give them this sense of home.
What are some challenges that uniquely impact students from the RGV?
Living in the RGV is kind of like being in a bubble. It’s predominately Hispanic, so there isn’t much diversity. When you get to UT, you’re exposed to so much! There are so many people from different cultures and countries all over the world—and even the food is much different. It can be overwhelming, but it is also very exciting. You get to learn so much and make friends with people who can introduce you to new things like, in my case, rugby. Here at UT, I made an Australian friend from the rugby team, and we go to rugby parties with people from various countries. I’ve learned so much just by meeting new people and learning about their perspectives and experiences.
What is your favorite cultural tradition?
My favorite tradition is the Ballet Folklórico. Back in high school, I danced the Ballet Folklórico to get a better sense of the Jalisco culture and the culture of my mother’s hometown in Mexico. I loved putting on a show for people in the RGV. Since the valley is predominately Hispanic, it really gives them a sense of home. I feel this is important because in the RGV, we get assimilated and disconnect from our family history and traditions. This is my way of giving my community a taste of home and a connection to their ancestors.
Do you ever visit your mother’s homeland? If so, what do you enjoy most about those trips?
Every couple of years, I go back to Mexico to spend time with family and do all the tourist things. I love seeing the churches, plazas and beaches. One of my favorite spots is the Plaza de la Liberación in Guadalajara. I love to see people performing and dancing at their evening shows. It’s something I look forward to every time I visit.
What is your best advice for Longhorns from the RGV?
Make your own path. Not everything is given to you, and you can’t rely on luck. You have to find what path you want to pursue and work hard to reach your goal. Once you know what you want, adjust your surroundings so you can get where you want to be.