Ireana Ugarte moved to Florida from Venezuela for a better life, but soon after she got here, her native country’s political and economic problems forced her family to immigrate to Panama where they had to start over. The upshot of all this was that her family could no longer send Ugarte money to help support her education. At the age of 19, she was on her own in a strange country, amid strangers in a large university.
However, Ugarte was determined to not let anything stand in the way of her academics. Before transferring to USF, Ugarte made Valencia College dean’s list every semester. She founded a new student organization that promoted Latin culture through dance, served as an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and worked on campus 20 hours per week as a computer lab specialist, event coordinator and math tutor. Ugarte has volunteered for Give Kids the World and Second Harvest Food Bank, received the Certificate of Distinction for Excellence in Leadership and was awarded scholarships from the Valencia Foundation for two years consecutively .
Now, Ugarte plans to continue to grow. She currently serves as a computer lab assistant with the USF Student Government Computer Services and is the Latin America Cultural Attaché with INTO, where she supports international students through their transitions into the university. She is also the recipient of the Latin American and Caribbean Scholarship and is a member of the Professional Sales Club.
Many would have folded, but the adversity steeled Ugarte’s reserve and she has flourished since arriving to the U.S. She will graduate in May 2019 with a GPA of 4.0 and a bachelor’s degree in business analytics and information systems with a concentration in cybersecurity.