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elda with bevoBy Cassandra Jaramillo

The congratulatory National Science Foundation fellowship text messages flooded her cellphone when she was on her way to work one morning.

But when Elda Trevino checked her email, there was no award letter. Elda thought her colleagues were pulling a prank on her. She later found that an odd glitch in her Gmail account put her award email into her spam folder.

Elda Trevino jokes that her peers knew about her receiving a National Science Foundation fellowship before she did.


Former Cockrell School of Engineering student Elda Trevino was in the Longhorn Link Program during her undergraduate career studying biomedical engineering. Her work with Dr. Laura Suggs inspired her to continue in engineering to pursue her Ph.D. Her STEM advisor, Dr. James Brown, was another mentor during her last year at UT within the McNair Scholars program.

“McNair Scholars has its own guidelines, but I felt Dr. Brown held us to a higher standard,” Elda says.

Elda says his encouragement inspired her to apply to more doctoral programs and fellowship opportunities. As a National Science Foundation fellow and Ford Foundation fellow, she uses the funds to pay her tuition as well as monthly stipends for living expenses.

Throughout the triumphs, Elda’s successful academic career faced its challenges. A demanding course load and raising a daughter as a single mom had its struggles during her undergraduate years. But thanks to the support from her parents she was able to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with her degree in biomedical engineering. During the week, her daughter Lorena, stayed with her parents in Laredo and on the weekends Elda would travel to be with her. Now Lorena is seven years old and lives in Atlanta, Georgia as Elda pursues her doctoral degree. The sacrifices brought the family many benefits.

When she was a child, Elda always gravitated toward math and science but was never exposed to a professional world within the STEM field.

“I’m from a small town where people never leave the community. So growing up, I never met scientists or engineers. I didn’t know biomedical engineering –as a field existed—until I was in high school,” Elda says.

As she learned more about biomedical engineering, it became a clear choice to be her profession.

“Coming to UT opened a new world to me,” Elda says.


Elda had the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research early on in her academic career. She did three years of research with Dr. Laura Suggs within her cardiovascular tissue-engineering lab.

“I’m glad she allowed me to work in her program for three years. She was one who wrote me recommendation letters for schools and fellowships I was awarded,” Elda says.

Elda says being selected for the fellowship has been an honor. The National Science Foundation aims to select recipients who will impact the broader community with their research. She applied as an undergrad and received honorable mention. She applied the following year as a first year graduate student and won. The award pays for three years of her tuition and fees and gives her a stipend of $34,000 a year.

The next year she will be on the Ford Foundation Fellowship, which gives her a stipend of $24,000 for the year. Georgia Tech will then pay for her tuition.

Finding funds for her STEM education was a huge relief, but Elda says that Dr. Brown’s words of advice rings true for all students looking for graduate schools: You should never have to pay for a Ph.D. in STEM.

The Georgia Institute Technology and Emory University joint biomedical engineering Ph.D. program is a five to seven year program. Elda hopes to graduate by May 2019.

“There’s so much money out there for people wanting to go to grad school in STEM,” Elda says. If you work hard and show at an early stage you have a passion for research “then you should not have to pay for a Ph.D. in STEM.”

Student Spotlight: McNair Scholar & UT Athlete Tarale Murry

April 7, 2015

As the oldest of nine siblings, UT basketball player and senior accounting major, Tarale Murry works hard to be a role model to his brothers and sister. Although he had options to play basketball at other universities, the Lehman High School graduate made the decision to stay closer to home to help his mother. Additionally, […]

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Dr. Harry Gibbs to Discuss Compliance Issues in Health Care March 24

April 2, 2015

Dr. Harry Gibbs will address Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) students on Tuesday, March 24 as part of the LCAE Distinguished Lecture Series.  His presentation, “The Feds Are Coming:  Discussing New Compliance Issues in Health Care,” will be held in UTC 2.112A from 5-6 p.m. Gibbs is an associate professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular […]

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McNair Students Present at 17th Annual Texas McNair Conference

March 23, 2015

McNair Students Present at 17th Annual Texas McNair Conference March 4, 2015 Nine McNair Scholars (who are also in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate Internship program) presented at the 17th Annual Texas McNair Conference held at University of North Texas – Denton February 20-22. Twenty-two McNair Scholars from UT Austin attended the conference. Masi Deidehban, Ignacio […]

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Write on Track: New Journalism Writing Program Helps Struggling Students Turn Grades Around and Get Published

January 20, 2015

Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Correct those dangling modifiers. Break up that run-on sentence. These basic lessons of grammar and punctuation are often ingrained in students before they enter college. But what about tightening up the “lede,” breaking down the “nutgraf” or structuring the “inverted pyramid”? These cardinal rules of reporting are often […]

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Nissa: Student Leadership Institute & Texas Thon

November 5, 2014

When Nissa Guerra was little, she would tell her mother she wanted to be a taxi cab driver so she could travel the world. In her young, innocent mind she thought cab drivers were expert travelers, venturing off to new places. But now, as a third-year International Relations and Government major, Nissa is circumventing the […]

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Information Session: Texas Business Foundations Summer Institute

October 20, 2014
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Join Us For Karaoke at Out Lip Sync Social!

October 15, 2014
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Changing the Story | Meet Senior Vanilla McIntosh

October 8, 2014

Corporate communication senior Vanilla McIntosh only submitted one application when it came time to apply to college three years ago. She considered two factors: a Texas school with a good football program, and a school far enough away from her family in Houston that she could experience a bit of freedom. The University of Texas […]

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Bridging Opportunities for New Longhorns

September 24, 2014

Summer Bridge Program Continues to Make a Difference For most members of the 2018 class, this past summer was spent soaking up the last weeks of freedom before embarking on their college journey. But for a select group of incoming freshman, the months of July and August were spent getting a sneak peek at what […]

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Planning on Studying Abroad? Come Join Us!

September 16, 2014
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LCAE Spotlight: Aaron Llanos

February 26, 2015

  CASSANDRA JARAMILLO Senior computer science major, Aaron Llanos, admits he didn’t quite have the advanced skills for eBay, but his character got him the job. “I was definitely hired for the passion and potential [eBay] saw in me. They really liked my work,” Aaron says. The work that Aaron showed eBay was the Longhorn Center […]

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LCAE Spotlight: Taylor Turner

February 26, 2015

  CASSANDRA JARAMILLO Two extensive back surgeries can slow down nearly any person– except Taylor Turner. Taylor refused to let the spinal surgeries that halted her potential college softball career to hold her back from being successful. When she started walking before doctors expected her to gain back full control of her motor skills, she showed […]

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LCAE Spotlight: Greg Vincent

February 26, 2015

  CASSANDRA JAMARILLO Searching various jobs at companies, interviewing for positions, enjoying the last few months of being a student at the University of Texas, these are days that came sooner than expected for senior economics major Greg Vincent. But although a stressful process, Vincent says it would not have been possible without the support from […]

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