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Graduate Student Spotlight

M.A. alumni Arely Herrera smiling in front of the Century Tree

Arely Herrera '23 - Communication (MA)

Admissions Counselor for Diversity and Access at Christian Brothers University

What impact did your graduate experience at Texas A&M have on your professional trajectory?

My graduate experience at Texas A&M revealed to me that I wasn’t ready to commit to academia this early on at my age. Transitioning into a Master’s program instead provided me with a pathway to entering higher education in a more professional advisory role rather than a research-focused one. Teaching undergraduate level courses was really beneficial to my current work guiding prospective undergraduate students through the admissions process. Building relationships with my Public Speaking and Difficult Dialogues students was one of my top priorities. Although I’m not meeting with 25 students at once, that teaching experience strengthened my ability to build relationships with prospective students at Christian Brothers University.

What from your graduate experience at Texas A&M has equipped you to approach problem-solving and foster innovation within your professional career?

Having consistent discussions with my peers in PhD level classes taught me how to work with others as a team. Classes from the Media, Identity, and Culture program taught me how to integrate my identity as an artist and my identity as a critical thinker. Those experiences in particular were really beneficial to the development of my public (artistic) scholarship.

What specific experiences or challenges from your graduate studies at Texas A&M do you find most directly applicable to your day-to-day work in your current professional role?

My classes in Latinx Immigration and Intersectionality (Sociology) and Student Immigrant Experiences K-12 and Higher Ed (Education) have been most helpful to my current responsibilities. I work directly with the University’s partners Equal Chance for Education and TheDream.US to recruit and admit undocumented students. Those classes from my Latinx and Mexican American Studies Graduate Certificate provided me with the careful tools to engage with and guide prospective undocumented students.

As someone who has successfully transitioned from graduate studies to a professional career, what advice would you give to current graduate students about preparing for the transition to the professional world?

My advice would be to self-reflect. Ask yourself the tough questions in a way that isn’t self-critical but in a way that fosters empathetic understanding for yourself and those around you. Ask “Why am I here?” It’s something I consistently asked myself—not because I doubted my abilities but because I wanted to gauge my strengths. I self-reflected because I wanted to understand how my graduate experience would impact my growth both personally and professionally. Be patient and be welcoming of change.

What advice would you give to someone considering graduate study at Texas A&M?

If someone is considering graduate study at Texas A&M, I would advise them to do research on the campus and on College Station, Texas. Visit if you can so that you can imagine yourself there. College Station is a tough place to be if you’re used to something different so it’s incredibly important to visit. I would also advise them to reach out to the faculty. Although busy, they are often happy to talk with prospective students. Maybe even connect with current grad students if you’re able to. Connections are extremely important when you’re in a small town like College Station!