Frida Retana

Frida Retana

Name: Frida Retana
Age: 19
Major: Graphic Design
College of Fine Arts
Hometown: McAllen, TX
High School: James Nikki Rowe High School, McAllen, TX 

Being able to study close to home and the added bonus of a community of people from the Rio Grande Valley was something that I believed would make the transition from high school to college a lot easier. Along with this, the culture found within UTRGV is something I really admired and wanted to be a part of.

What made you decide on your current major?
I have always been interested in art but was unsure if I wanted to pursue it due to the popularized idea that studying anything creative would be a bad career move. I wasn’t sure what I’d do, but a friend of mine told me she was studying graphic design and it was almost like an epiphany. I had taken a graphic design class my freshman year but totally forgot about it and I didn’t realize that was something I could pursue in college. After researching more about it, the idea of studying graphic design seemed like a perfect fit for me.

How are you maneuvering being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It was quite a transition. As someone who prefers to be taught in person, and really enjoys a traditional classroom setting, switching online was really cumbersome. I found myself unmotivated a lot of the time, but eventually I got into the routine of working from home. It really helped that my professors were very understanding if we were struggling with assignments, for we were all going through the same thing. 

What are your greatest strengths and what are some challenges? 
My greatest strengths would probably be my enthusiasm to learn and not being afraid to ask others for help. Some challenges that have come up due to COVID would be the sudden lack of motivation to complete assignments. Luckily, I am able to complete my work, but there is that new mountain that I have to climb. 

What do you hope to achieve beyond completion of your major?
I hope to be someone that has confidence in their skills and can show for it. A lot of the time, I am admiring the work of others in my field, and I feel nothing but respect for those around me studying/working in graphic design. I hope to create work that I am proud of and be at a point where I can help others pursuing the same career. 

What do you like most about UTRGV?
My favorite thing about UTRGV is the camaraderie I feel throughout the school. There is a sense of unity that I feel simply walking amongst students on campus. A lot of the professors that I have had have been excellent as well, it’s really apparent that they want nothing but success for us as people. Overall, the feeling of being a part of a family within the school makes me feel like I am in good hands, which I am thankful for.

What does being a Vaquero mean to you?
To me, being a Vaquero means to be someone that is unapologetically themselves. Whether it’s a professor, a fellow student in my class, or simply someone working at UTRGV, it’s really amazing to see people of all sorts of backgrounds pursuing what they believe in at this school.

What opportunities has UTRGV helped you find throughout your community?
UTRGV has allowed me to explore my passions through all the different clubs that they have to offer. I was a member of the American Marketing Association my freshman year, and it aided me in terms of what I wanted to declare as my minor. Along with this, classes have allowed me to experience different events in the community, such as a World Languages Festival at a local library. This allowed me to learn about the different cultures found within our community, which was really enlightening.

What advice do you have for fellow students pursuing degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It sounds cliché, but hang in there, Vaqueros! You are not alone, and the struggles that we are all facing right now isn’t something that we are familiar with, so do not beat yourself up if you are not feeling super motivated or productive. Remember that there are people rooting for you and are here to help. Although it is difficult right now, it would be really cool to say you managed to get your degree amidst a pandemic. We can do it!