A passion for helping high school students navigate the road to college has placed alumna Laura Quintero in elite company.
The National Hispaña Leadership Institute named Quintero one of two recipients of its 2014 Rising Star Award for encouraging young Latinos and Latinas to pursue a college degree. The honor recognizes Latina leaders under 30.
“I’ve always wanted to contribute to the community in a meaningful way, to share with young students the skills that I developed during my undergraduate years at UT Arlington,” she says. “This award challenges me to keep working in the community and serves as validation that I’m headed in the right direction.”
A first-generation college graduate, Quintero earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design from the School of Architecture in 2012. While at UT Arlington, she was a volunteer administrator and instructor for the Playhouse Fun Project, an after-school program that taught art and design to elementary school students in Dallas. The project motivated the children to finish high school and attend college.
“Laura doesn’t even know how special she is,” says architecture Assistant Professor Norma Isa Figueroa, a 2014 NHLI Executive Leadership Program fellow. “She mentors high school students in inner-city neighborhoods, encourages education, and works to create job opportunities for Latino students in the world of architecture and engineering—all while pursuing her own professional goals.”
Quintero is a Dallas-based interior designer who frequently collaborates on restaurant projects. She describes the work as a combination of math, chemistry, and art, and she’s eager to share her knowledge with the students she mentors.
“I want them to grasp how higher education can be easily attained with hard work and dedication. I want them to be confident and proud that their hard work paid off and that an exciting chapter is about to begin.”