Norma Jaramillo graduated in the top 7% of her high school class in Lockhart, Texas. Still, she didn’t think she could go to college.
“My family couldn’t afford it,” she said.
But when her 12th grade culinary teacher, a UT Austin alum, encouraged her to pursue higher education, Jaramillo decided to take a chance. She applied to five Texas universities and was accepted to all of them. It didn’t take long for her to decide to stay in her home city and become a Longhorn.
As a first-gen student, Jaramillo received a $20,000 scholarship from the University Leadership Network in addition to financial aid, which provided some assistance for her to complete her bachelor’s degree in corporate communications this past December.
While pursuing this degree, Jaramillo studied social justice and social change in London through the Steve Hicks School’s London Maymester. This experience solidified her decision to pick up social work as her second major. Her experience in London also led her to take another study abroad trip to Italy to complete credits toward her social work degree.
This academic year, Jaramillo has been a recipient of three social work scholarships—the King S. Stephens Memorial Scholarship in Social Work, Dianne and Leslie White Endowed Scholarship and the Judge Stuti Patel ’93 & Mr. Hiren Patel ’91 Scholarship for Advocacy in Criminal Justice.
“These awards have helped alleviate me from having to work every day throughout the week,” Jaramillo said. “It’s allowed me to only work weekends and focus more on my coursework, internship, personal goals and most of all it has allowed me to focus more on myself.”
Jaramillo is currently completing a paralegal certification program and an internship with CASA of Travis County. After she graduates in May, she plans to take a gap year and work as a paralegal before applying for the dual degree program (MSSW/JD) with the Steve Hicks School and UT Austin School of Law.
“I’ve thankfully been able to benefit from so many resources,” Jaramillo said. “I wanted to be a social worker so when people reach out to me for resources, I’m able to help them as much as I can. A major part of social work is guiding people to the best resources and opportunities that are available to them.”