No chUTEP without chU

2

WASHINGTON D.C. — Hey, there’s a brave new world out there!

It’s been almost two years since my graduation from college and I was very happy to have a chance to walk around the UTEP campus and run into Ms. Esther Barragan last week, who was a major part of ensuring that my experience at UTEP was filled with internships.

We talked about a lot of concerns that she has been hearing from students who are a little shy about doing things like taking an internships or studying abroad, which sounds like basically a fear of doing anything outside of El Paso. I would like to spend the next couple lines sharing how doing just those things made me able to have a “Why not?” attitude, which has really helped me to find a fun life in Washington, D.C.

When I was a junior at chUTEP, do you guys still call it that? Hopefully somebody will put that on a t-shirt, which can be very lucrative for clubs. Anyways, I’m getting off track. Now, where was I? Ok I’m back. When I was a junior I did a study abroad in Antwerp, Belgium. I spent the whole year organizing the trip and arguing with professors to accept the classes that I would take. In Belgium they speak Flemish and French.

I took a Spanish class, because that was what I needed to be able to get my degree. I really wanted to go and wanted to get some school credit for it. I remember the first week I was there that I ran into a problem with my schedule and for some reason the Spanish class that I was going to take was not available. I remember having a breakdown about it, but suddenly I had this revelation. “Don’t get mad, but make it work.” This problem was out of my control and rather than getting upset I decided to find other Spanish classes, which I did. It was fine. Basically, I wanted to get the point across that anything you pursue you can make it work, and if you cannot make it work then at least you could say you tried and move on.

Now, the summer of my senior year I decided to do an internship in Washington, D.C., which I originally had no plans for doing. Prof. Zita Arocha mentioned an opportunity for me and encouraged me to go for it. I thought that living in another state would be easy since I already had the experience of living in another country. Most young people speak English in Europe, but the signs and menus are in their language. If you happen to go to a place where the signs are in English you are going to get ripped off.

Anyways, I’m back off track, let’s return. So I went to the Nation’s Capital and found myself working at The Hispanic Link with Charlie Ericksen. He likes UTEP and visits it sometimes. If you ever see him, he is the Viking looking old man on an electric scooter crashing into things. He is the most interesting and cool guy I have ever met.

To put my summer in a nutshell I will say that Charlie made me WORK. I put it in all caps, because he gave me a lot of responsibilities. This internship was not like some where you sit at a desk all day and do boring things. We were out in D.C. covering news for Hispanics. Obama and McCain were running for President at the time and I went to an event where Obama spoke to the League of United Latin American Citizens. It was cool. I remember a girl that was sitting next to me saying, “I feel like I’m at an important event in history, like he’s going to be President.”

So now, let’s flash forward to my graduation. I walk across the platform, get my degree, snap my picture and I’m out the door. It’s good to graduate and it’s also terrifying. There were a good couple months of uncertainty. “So now what?” I kept myself busy working for my aunt helping her to move to a smaller house. She is another person that makes you WORK. If you ever work for my aunt you will understand the all caps.

Anyways, so I was completely stumped about my next move. One fine El Paso sunny day I found myself sitting on my couch watching T.V. while typing in eharmony.com on my laptop. I was curious about Internet dating and thought “Why not?” At that exact moment Ericksen calls me and says, “What are you doing? Watching T.V.?” I totally denied it. He said I should come back to D.C. and try to find a job. I thought about it for a while and then felt that that was the right thing to do.

He let me crash his pad for about six months and then I moved on to living at a house near where I stayed during my internship. I found a job through Randstad, a temp agency, which became full time at the beginning of this summer and last week I took my first paid vacation back to the Sun City.

I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not had the wonderful guidance that I received at UTEP. I am forever in debt to it and will hopefully one day strike it big and open the Patrick Palafox School of Cool Stuff. I’ll think about a study discipline and make sure to have my own Bhutan building on the campus. Anyways, I’d like to encourage you all to take advantage of your time at UTEP, because you never know where it will take you.

Remember that fear will keep you safe from attempting things like jumping off a cliff, because you may injure yourself, but rest assured that you will not injure yourself by diving into the unknown. Our country needs people to be brave. You watch the news and there is all this uncertainty. That will be eradicated if we start betting on ourselves and aiming high.

Also remember, “There is no chUTEP without chU.” This is Pat E.P., which is my comic name you can find on YouTube, (little plug) saying “Enjoy.”

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  1. Zita Arocha

    Patrick, so nice to hear from grads like you who have thrived after graduation because of the hard work they did during internships. You are a good role model for others who are shy about taking a “chance” in a location outside their comfort zone. What are you doing for Randstad?

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