West Coaster finds her path and passion at UNI

West Coaster finds her path and passion at UNI

For Georgia Arevalo, earning a bachelor’s degree has been an eight-year journey that spans almost 2,000 miles. In December, she graduated with a degree in management with an emphasis in business administration, and she isn’t done yet. She already resumed classes, working toward her Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies through UNI.

“As I embark on my post-graduation plans, I carry with me the lessons and experiences that UNI provided, shaping my path toward a fulfilling career and further education,” said Arevalo.

Arevalo began her studies in fall 2015 at a community college in Los Angeles, which is her hometown. She was primarily a part-time student, taking general education courses she hoped would transfer some day to a four-year institution. 

The summer after her first year, she moved to Mexico and ended up staying for two years. During that time, she continued taking general education courses online. She made her next big move in 2018 when her family relocated to Waverly, Iowa. It was then that she transferred to the University of Northern Iowa.

“UNI was a perfect fit because it's a medium-sized campus that specializes in business, which was a growing interest for me,” explained Arevalo. 

Arevalo started out as a chemistry major due to her interest in pursuing a career in forensic science, but she later realized she was more passionate about business. The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) especially excited her. 

Georgia Arevalo

“I was fortunate to have an amazing academic advisor, Elizabeth Soliz, who helped me through my journey as I was nervous and stressed about changing my majors after a year and a half in the chemistry department,” said Arevalo. “I felt I was behind compared to other students in the major, but my advisor helped me catch up and encouraged me to keep pursuing my dream of finishing college. If it wasn’t for my advisor’s help and dedication in seeing me reach my goals, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

While changing a major can be a bit intimidating, Arevalo encourages other UNI students to not be afraid of amending their academic plans.

“I would advise exploring a variety of interests and being open to change,” she said. “It's okay to shift your focus if you discover a new passion. Seek guidance from academic advisors, professors and mentors—they can provide valuable insights and support.”

Arevalo’s favorite part about being a UNI student has been meeting her professors and seeing their passion for their course subjects. From Elise Dubord in the Department of Languages & Literatures to Nick Bailey and Sarah Rosol in the Management Department, UNI faculty supported her journey. In fact, they have inspired Arevalo so much that she discovered a desire to become a business professor some day.

“The university's commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment has made a lasting impact on my journey,” she said. 

Now Arevalo is focused on continuing her education at UNI as well as working as a graduate assistant for the JPEC. She hopes to later get her PhD. She will also be managing her family’s new Cedar Falls restaurant called Don Gomez Mexican Grilled Chicken. She feels that UNI has prepared her to tackle these new challenges head on.

“The university provided a conducive environment for me to explore and refine my interests,” said Arevalo. “The availability of specialized resources, such as the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, played a crucial role in shaping my career path toward entrepreneurship. Additionally, the support and guidance from dedicated academic advisors, particularly Elizabeth Soliz and Heather Asmus, were instrumental in helping me navigate through major changes and challenges.”