By Richard Zagrzecki
Nancy Marquina’s home is only a short 25-minute drive from the University of Houston, where she is studying geophysics.
That’s in contrast to the travels she undertook while still a student at KIPP Houston High School. Twice, she went overseas as part of her studies, immersing herself in new cultures and languages far from the comforts of her home in Texas.
The first trip was to Italy for two months, where she stayed with a family of six. Then, a year later when she was a high school junior, she flew to France and spent six weeks studying with others her age at a university.
“I learned a lot through those experiences,” said Marquina, who still keeps in touch with her host family in Italy and hopes to one day go back and visit them.
Marquina, who is now a junior at UH, still likes to travel. During this past spring break, she went to El Salvador and visited an aunt who lives there.
But her studies and obligations at UH keep her busy. In January, she applied for and was hired as a student worker in the Business Services office that serves Facilities/Construction Management, under the supervision of Assistant Director Victor Kalani. There, she works several days a week doing a variety of different tasks, from picking up and distributing office mail to completing vouchers.
In addition, her fluency in Spanish is put to good use as well. She is often used to help the Spanish-speaking employees who come into the office.
“I help them for all sorts of things, like when they want to make an absence request or they have a question,” she said.
She anticipates graduating from UH in December 2018. After that, she hopes to land an offshore job in the oil and gas field, utilizing her geophysics degree doing remote sensing work. That would include analyzing data from under the sea floor to determine what sediments, rocks or oil and gas reservoirs may lie below. And if the opportunity presents itself, she would also like to return to school and earn a master’s degree.
In addition to her studies and her student worker job, Marquina keeps busy as a member of Phi Sigma Rho, a STEM sorority for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or math.
“I always knew I wanted to be in the Greek life, but being a STEMS major, it is kind of difficult to be in the Greek life and be active because you have to dedicate so much of your time and energy toward your studies,” she said. “So this sorority is perfect for me.”
In her spare time, she likes to spend time with her family and play volleyball. She also likes to run for exercise and would like to find time to learn American Sign Language.
She is not the first person in her family to attend UH – she has a cousin who earned a degree in supply management.
She enjoys everything that the University has to offer.
“I like the diversity that can be found here at UH. Not just the diversity of the student population, but also the diversity of all the many organizations that UH has,” she said.