Striving to change lives

By: Gerardo Zavala Jr.

Throughout his college career, senior and Social Work major AJ Cortez fell in love with Our Lady of the Lake University, and made the most of his college life through the memories he made with his friends and family, as well as discovering new aspects of life that he grew to cherish. 

Coming from El Paso, Cortez made his way to the OLLU campus, where he is now just several days away from graduating. Cortez expressed his plans after college, highlighting his goals of what he desires most in life. “My plans are to go to graduate school and to pursue my dream of becoming a social worker and joining the peace corps. My dream has also been to go and travel the world to help other countries that are in need… because I really want to help and put my all into helping the communities being effected by any type of social issue that’s going on in their country.”

Showcasing his love of Social Work, Cortez came to the university with a path that he eagerly wanted to take through his love of helping people in times of need. “I really just fell in love with my major every single year, through every single class that I’ve been in, and I learned so much more of the Social Work field,” he said. 

“From the beginning of my college career, I felt like I knew what I wanted to do like working with the elderly, women and the LGBTQ+ community, and throughout my college career, it helped me realize that I can work some type of policy in politics where I can help with the populations of different countries all together, advocating for bills to help protect people’s lives,” he added.

Cortez holds a special place for the university in his heart as a place that defines him, along with the many clubs that has made up his time such as the Worden Social Work Organization, the Saints-Pro Council, Lion’s Club, Social Justice Organization, International Order of Omega, Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority, LIFE program, as well as being a member for the Saints Production Board,  a freshman orientation leader, being on Dean’s List, receiving the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and staffing for the Awakening Retreat. 

Cortez holds the memories of all those that have come into his life. “I would want to pay tribute to the people that helped me in college. I would say, first and foremost that my belief in God helped me with my spirituality and helped me get through college, my academics, and anything that was going on in my life,” Cortez said. “My parents and my family back home have been so supportive and remained wanting to be in my life even though they weren’t there because they lived in El Paso, as well as my friends that all greatly impacted my life.” 

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