Diego Alonso Barcena

Diego Alonso Barcena

Name: Diego Alonso Barcena
Age: 27
Major: M.S. degree in Computer Science
College: College of Engineering and Computer Science
Hometown: McAllen, TX
High School: McAllen High School 

I chose to pursue a higher education at UTRGV due to the high academic achievement it offered while providing its rich Hispanic culture which made me feel at home. It also provides an environment with diverse cultures and ways of thinking which has helped me expand my horizons. The community is very friendly and welcoming extending their help whenever you need it.

What made you decide on your current major?
Technology and its advances have made their way into every industry and business. It is what pushes our society as well as our creativity to innovate forward. What better way to improve society and one’s community than to become the person whose job is to identify the problems of today and be able to come up with a solution. Thus, facilitate the life of those around them. This is what being an engineer really means to me. In my case computers just happen to be the tools to accomplish this task.

How are you maneuvering being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like many others, overcoming obstacles and hardships has made me a dedicated and hardworking individual who does not settle, and is always looking for ways to improve not just as a professional but as a human being as well. I am thankful that UTRGV reacted quickly to the pandemic and smoothly transitioned to the virtual/hybrid courses. This has allowed me to focus on my academics without jeopardizing my health or the health of the UTRGV community 

What are your greatest strengths and what are some challenges? 
I have always considered myself a quick learner and I think that comes along with the fact that I am very dedicated to my studies and professional life. I am thankful to my parents for having instilled in me dedication and discipline in what I am doing. The biggest challenge that I have faced during the pandemic is dealing with higher stress levels, due to worrying about the health of my loved ones. Living with the fear of getting infected or even worse, infecting those around me, the people I care about can have a heavy impact on one’s mental health.

What do you hope to achieve beyond completion of your major?
I strive to one day create my own startup and little by little try to make the area a tech friendly and tech centric region. I would love to see the Rio Grande Valley grow as a hotspot for the field, see more tech startups make their home here. This community is full of very prepared, intelligent, and visionary individuals with entrepreneurial skills, which could bring about a new Silicon Valley that could rival the original.

What do you like most about UTRGV?
I really like the opportunities UTRGV provides for us students in the form of clubs, organizations, and programs. The many clubs, fraternities/sororities, and organizations we can join really allow us to meet and network with many people. I got the opportunity to become a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. Languages are something I really love, in fact one of my life goals is to become a polyglot one day, and so I decided to do a minor in French Studies. Thanks to this program as well as the French Club I not only learned the language and culture, I met and befriended a beautiful, smart girl who is now my lovely wife.

What does being a Vaquero mean to you?
The Rio Grande Valley continues to grow; its populations are expanding, and the cultural diversity keeps getting richer. I am a part of this community, and I try to give back to those that helped me out in moments of need. I always want to show my Vaquero pride involving myself in projects that could benefit the area and its people. Striving to be an example and role model to those around me to inspire them to be better. I am proud of the dedication and the involvement that has been shown to me by my many professors, lecturers, and staff throughout my years at UTRGV.

What opportunities has UTRGV helped you find throughout your community?
UTRGV has provided me with many amazing opportunities. I had the opportunity to be a Graduate Fellow working with The Office for Sustainability as a team member on a renewable energy project. The ability to consult and collaborate with various companies for a year provided my team with insight and experience. The idea of expanding learning opportunities of sustainability and combining that with the expertise and work of local leaders seemed like an amazing way to increase my knowledge beyond just the academic, but as a life skill.

What advice do you have for fellow students pursuing degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My advice to anyone actively pursuing a degree during these tough times is to try to be optimistic, looking at the positive things around you. Be thankful for what you have, do what you enjoy, and if you can further your skills by earning a degree give it your all. These are challenging times, yes, but it is upon us to seize them as a learning experience and to continue to grow.