Head due south of the Texas border — where the banks of the Rio Grande river meet the busiest inland port of both Mexico and the United States — and you’ll find yourself in the vibrant Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
More than 600,000 people call this border town their home, one of which is UT senior Nora Martinez.
Many of us search frantically for our calling in life while in our college years, often times doubting our abilities and finding ourselves lost in pursuit. But for Nora, her passion for helping others came at a young age.
“As a child I was the go-to friend for advice,” says Nora. “From family problems to everyday life stresses, my friends always came to me for my opinions. I was basically their counselor.”
During her sophomore year of high school Nora left Mexico and moved to Laredo, Texas. While leaving her home country was difficult, Nora soared past her fears and graduated with honors in the top 5 percent of her class.
After graduation Nora attended Texas A&M International University for her first two years of college while still living in the comforts of home. Looking for a chance to stand on her own two feet and master the English language, Nora decided to become a Longhorn. In the fall of 2011, she transferred to UT Austin with plans to double major in psychology and advertising with minors in both Spanish and sign language .
One of her first psychological experiments involved measuring one’s self-esteem. By showing pictures of attractive celebrities to a random sample of about 20 students followed by a complimentary questionnaire, Nora’s research revealed that many people on campus viewed themselves negatively. Through a process called priming students rated their physical attractiveness in comparison to the images that were presented to them.
But this is just the beginning for Nora: She has plans for graduate school, pursuing a master’s in criminal psychology, and hopes to eventually work for the FBI.
With huge ambitions to travel even farther from the nest, Nora has found comfort in helping others on the Forty Acres.
“I may not be at home,” Nora says. “But I know that my future is here–at UT.”