When students talk about going to a school that’s close to home, they usually mean within an hour or so.
That’s not the case for Ericka Longoria, who has gone to school five minutes from her house — for 11 years.
The business major lives near Texas Wesleyan, and she also attended William James Middle School and Polytechnic High School. Because she was such a good student, she earned the SPEAK UP Scholarship that rewards those who do well at both institutions.
That opportunity made all the difference.
"Texas Wesleyan has helped me because if they hadn’t offered me the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have been here," the first-generation college student said. "That’s how Texas Wesleyan has helped me get an education and move on with my life."
Longoria started as an English major but found out pretty quickly that’s not what she wanted to do. The Academic Success Center helped her re-evaluate her plans with a skills assessment test.
"My top two areas were education and business, so I went into business."
"It really does mean a lot," Longoria said. "I didn’t think I was going to get it."
But then Hector Quintanilla, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business Administration, called and gave her a surprise. She had been selected to receive the Thomas H. Law Scholarship, an annual award that is specifically for business students at Texas Wesleyan.
"It was really amazing," she said.
Longoria is hoping to use the funding toward the business school’s study abroad program in Europe next spring.
"I’ve been here so long, and I want to explore new things," she said.
Cooking up a business plan
After graduation, Longoria hopes to earn a scholarship for graduate school. If that doesn’t transpire, she will work to earn money for graduate school. Either way, she has plans for running her own business.
"I like working for other people, but I don’t see that for the rest of my life," she said. "I want to take the initiative and do something for myself."
Longoria said her younger sister will likely go to college also, and she hopes they can open a family business.
"Maybe a bakery. I come from a family who loves to cook," she said. "My little sister is really into baking, and my other sister is also focusing on studying business. If we partner up together, maybe we could do a family business."
Texas Wesleyan has engaging educators
In her college years, Longoria said one professor, in particular, has been very helpful: Thomas Bell, business professor.
"Dr. Bell is very helpful to students, and his door is always open," Longoria said. "He gives me advice on jobs, and he suggests different ways to look for jobs. It’s really important, I think, for students to feel that kind of connection with their professors."
From his perspective, Bell said he is impressed with Longoria and her drive.
"I consider myself fortunate, having had the pleasure of knowing Ericka for the last couple years," Bell said. "Ericka is the epitome of Wesleyan’s best — she is a tremendous student and an asset to our school.
"What has impressed me the most about Ericka is how she maintains a clear sense of purpose while keeping a pleasant and encouraging attitude."