Studying in Texas: ‘UTA allows you to figure out who you really are’ | Top Universities

Studying in Texas: ‘UTA allows you to figure out who you really are’

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Niamh Ollerton

Updated Apr 16, 2024



University of Texas Arlington

Victoria Messerschmidt is a PhD student in Bioengineering at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). She spoke with us about why UTA was the school for her.

Why should students choose UTA? 

Victoria says UTA offers both a welcoming environment and fantastic research opportunities for students. She said: “Each department’s professors study a variety of topics in the field and offer students multiple opportunities to apply what they learned in their classes.”

She’s thoroughly enjoyed her studies at UTA, admitting they are hands-on, but professors are always available for questions. She said: “I think the addition of the T32 grant in the bioengineering department made it more outstanding because it allowed students to explore career opportunities and alleviated the financial burden all students face.”

Although undertaking her PhD, Victoria was also able to earn a certificate in entrepreneurship in the business department. 

She said: “UTA allows their students to dive into different disciplines (engineering and business for me). I believe this proves that UTA really does want you to explore your options, and will welcome you no matter if you are well versed in the subject or not.” 

Programme possibilities  

Diverse cohorts and networking opportunities are two of the main qualities many prospective postgraduate students look out for – and Victoria thinks UTA is one of the most diverse institutions she’s been to.

She said: “In my first year, I worked in a lab with five Indian students, one Russian student, one Cameroonian student, two Turkish students and one Vietnamese student. Seven of those students were female and three were male.

“This opportunity allowed me to learn from their cultures and introduced me to new foods, holidays and other traditions that I would have never known.”

Victoria notes there are lots of networking opportunities for business and engineering. Although there are more networking opportunities for business majors because of the nature of the subject, she admits engineering opportunities need to be sought after – but that’s through no fault of the departments she adds.

She said: “I am the graduate student representative for the Biomedical Engineering Society, and we set up tours of local hospitals and biomedical companies for students to reach out to potential internship opportunities.

“One of the students reached out to the Proton Clinic after a tour and ended up having a summer internship there. I believe she was the first student to do so. Additionally, we toured UTA’s smart hospital and students have gotten internships there as well.”

Dealing with the shift online 

Victoria thinks everyone was put into a difficult position when COVID-19 shut everything down. However, UTA adapted quickly and was only completely shut down for one week – with students being given two weeks off for spring break instead of one. 

She said: “The classes I was taking at the time switched to Microsoft Teams the following week. I think UTA did a really good job in managing the transition from in-person to 100 percent online classes. For research, it was much harder for social distancing. However, students were able to come in for shifts with a maximum of half the students in the lab at once.”

Additional learning opportunities are always a sell alongside core programmes, and UTA offers industry specific initiatives. Victoria said: “For the business program, I think the Maverick Entrepreneurship Award and Program is fantastic.

“I was able to win some money for my business that I have used to start making a prototype for the device. I also have met many people in Tech Fort-Worth, a local incubator, that have helped me officially launch the company.”

The future of UTA 

Victoria says there are lots of exciting things coming in autumn 2021 and beyond. 

Since the pandemic, many students haven’t seen professors or friends, and in the autumn, in-person classes will resume, something Victoria and her friends are excited to be back to ‘normal.’

She said: “I think clubs and UTA on campus activities will be heavily promoted and attended which will boost UTA spirit and encourage people to make new friends and other connections.”

If you’re thinking about attending UTA for your studies, Victoria says no matter what you want to do in life, there’s something at UTA to help nurture it. 

She said: “Whether it is business opportunities with the Mav Pitch, engineering with the company tours and T32, or the arts with students painting the spirit horses, UTA allows you to contribute to multiple disciplines and figure out who you really are and what you want to do in your career.

“Also, I would say if this is your first time leaving home then try not to be nervous. I came from Philadelphia, which is a large city and a completely different culture. After I moved, I realised that I was the one with the accent at UTA. Everyone was still nice, welcoming, and friendly and I fit in regardless.”