Biochemistry senior Guadalupe Jasso’s dreams came true back in high school when she got accepted to universities such as Harvard, Cornell and the California Institute of Technology. She also got accepted to The University of Texas at Austin, and when she visited, she was hooked.
“I applied to 10 schools total, including a bunch of Ivies, because if I got in I would qualify for financial aid,” Jasso said. “But I did get in everywhere. It was so surreal. It really came down to where I wanted to go and where I thought I would be happy.”
To make her decision Jasso visited many of the universities to see the campuses and interact with students and professors.
“When I was applying to Harvard I was thinking, 'Yeah of course I will go to Harvard if I get in,’ ” she said. “But then I actually visited. There wasn’t the cohesion we have here at UT. I also noticed the professors are really interested in their students here and I just didn’t get that feeling anywhere else.”
Jasso gives credit to the Dean’s Scholars Program, which she has been a part of for four years now, for making her feel so welcome in the College of Natural Sciences.
“Dean’s Scholars has been wonderful and is a great close-knit community,” she said. “The program really keeps you motivated and allows you to explore all of your options and discover what you really enjoy. To me, that’s the point of college.”
She also participated in the Freshman Research Initiative, is a tutor for Gateway Scholars and has worked with UT outreach programs. Her experience in the FRI led her to pursue research in the lab of Lauren Ehrlich, assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology. The lab does research on lymphoma development and studies the environment surrounding T cells.
Jasso has been in Ehrlich’s lab since the spring of her sophomore year. She said being in the lab for longer than just one semester has been very satisfying because research and projects can take time.
“Research is a huge commitment because you have to put in the hours, but it’s very gratifying to get results,” she added. “It’s not a chore to me because it’s something I love and enjoy.”
Her research has even spurred her to want to pursue a Ph.D in immunology. She applied to a large handful of graduate schools and was accepted to almost all of them. After rounds of interviews and an ironic twist, Jasso will be attending Harvard for her graduate studies.
“I think it’s so cool to learn how the immune system works and how cells interact with each other and mount a successful response to kill a pathogen,” Jasso said.
She pushes underclassmen to think outside the box and perhaps take a class “even though you know it’s gonna kick your butt” because you never know what you will discover.
As she goes through her last semester in the College of Natural Sciences, Jasso said she will always appreciate her decision to come to UT and her experiences here.
She also said she loves how the university allows students to discover their interests by helping them narrow their focus while also keeping an open mind.
“The big journey is about where you are going to be happy at the end of the day,” she said. “You can be successful, you can win prizes and you can be the perfect researcher, but at the end of the day none of it is going to matter if you haven’t enjoyed it. UT has been worth it. I am happy here.”