By Kimberly Yosko
When Cristian Ortiz-Salas came to Our Lady of the Lake University, he was expecting to simply study and move on. Little did he know that he was going to find his true calling.
“When I first came to Our Lady of the Lake, I was a transfer student from Texas A&M University in College Station,” Ortiz-Salas said. “I was a [Biology] major.”
However, Ortiz-Salas soon realized that Biology was not his calling.
“I found out that it wasn’t my passion,” Ortiz-Salas said. “So I went to Psychology. I have always had a passion for listening to others and being there for people.”
But it was Catherine Fragoso, Director of Student Leadership and Development, who helped Ortiz-Salas find out the major that he was truly meant for: Public Relations.
“I became Vice-President of SGA (Student Government Association),” Ortiz-Salas said. “One day, I was sitting in Cat’s office, and we were having a one-on-one, and she said, ‘I see you as a PR person, because you love making videos [and] talking to people and presenting’.”
After that, Ortiz-Salas went and changed his major…again.
“The next day, I switched my major to Public Relations,” Ortiz-Salas said. “I went to the Registrar’s [office], and they said, ‘You’re crazy! You’re a junior!’ I changed my major, and after a few weeks, I got my first internship without having any PR experience.”
With all of this “soul-searching”, Ortiz-Salas’ road through college has been a bit bumpy, especially considering the fact that, for most semesters, he took 18 hours. Last semester, he remarked, was one of the hardest that he had to face.
“I started taking 18 hours of Mass Communications,” Ortiz-Salas said. “It was really stressful. It even got to the point where I lost a lot of my hair. I lost hair for five months, and I went completely bald. I didn’t take any medications for my hair to grow back. It was, honestly, prayer and relieving stress.”
Despite the fact that Ortiz-Salas experienced some stressful times in his college career, being at OLLU taught him many things.
“I have such an emotional attachment to the university itself,” Ortiz-Salas said. “OLLU has taught me the value of Providence and community. When I came [to] the Lake, I didn’t come in with the expectation of being involved in anything. [But], I was really attracted to the [community]. “
In addition to this, OLLU helped Ortiz-Salas become a more confident individual.
“I started blossoming again,” Ortiz-Salas said. “I was like a dead plant. Every organization that I was in [and] every person that I met was an extra drop of water that I needed in me to blossom again.”
Ortiz-Salas does have some words of wisdom for those who will be OLLU alumni one day.
“Try to be more than just a number. Try to be more than just a statistic,” Ortiz-Salas said. “Your dreams need to be bigger than big. You can’t go on in life just going for the bare minimum. Enjoy the moment and just live.”