Senior biomedical sciences major Ana Gutierrez '17 received financial assistance to attend the Stark Northeast Tour from an endowment managed by the Texas A&M Foundation.
On a tour through the quiet hallways of Harvard Law School, my echoing footsteps slowed to a pause beneath a grandiose, marble archway. Growing up in South America, Harvard had always seemed more like a fictional idea than a real place. Yet, standing there, I felt a lifelong dream materialize into reality.
My story began in Caracas, Venezuela, as the only daughter of parents who worked in the oil industry. I grew up surrounded by friends and family who encouraged me to dream big, without fear. Unfortunately, the political unrest and corruption that plagued early 21st-century Venezuela changed the course of my future as my family fled to America.
Eleven years after our arrival, I am now a senior biomedical sciences major looking to attend law school. As my time at Texas A&M comes to a close, dreams of attending graduate school on the East Coast have resurfaced. This is why, in fall 2015, when I heard about the
—a trip that takes students to visit reputable business and law schools—I applied without hesitation and was accepted. Fortunately, I received financial aid to partially cover expenses, thanks to an endowment managed by the Texas A&M Foundation. Memorial Student Center Stark Northeast Tour
After months of preparation, 16 other students and I embarked in January 2016 on a 10-day excursion to Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, where we visited the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.
At each university campus, we learned about the application process and what makes each program unique. Graduate students, most of whom were Aggies, gave us tours of each school and shared their personal stories. We also sat in on real classes to gain a truer sense of each college and its faculty.
In addition to the trip’s outstanding educational value, we shared meals with former students in each city, learning about life after graduation. Seeing their genuine interest in my background, academic experience and career aspirations was empowering and uplifting.
Overall, the Stark Northeast Tour gifted me with a renewed assurance that has lasted long past the trip. It sealed my professional identity and reminded me of the power of my story. I now have access to contacts who are willing to provide guidance for my career, and I came away with friendships that I hold dear to my heart.
After the trip, I held a summer internship with the Harris County District Attorney in Houston that further solidified my desire to practice law. My sights are now set on pursuing a career in management consulting after graduation and then attending law school after a few years of real-world experience. Upon completing a legal education, I hope to one day return to Venezuela and work toward dismantling its corrupt policies by helping rebuild its diplomatic and legal structure.
If I had not stood below that marble archway long enough to visualize myself as a student someday, Harvard would have likely remained a far-fetched dream. Now, I know it can become my reality.