To Stay or not to Stay?

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Ruby Cerino

Students switch classes by the Undergraduate Learning Center.

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

According to Economic Modeling Specialists International, in 2013 about 57 percent of graduating students from UTEP stayed in El Paso at least one year after graduating.

In a Graduating Student Survey in 2013-2014, conducted by the Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning, nearly 40 percent of students graduating with an undergraduate diploma plan to leave the Paso Del Norte region

“I find it hard to believe. I never thought I would get to this point. I’m a little scared because it’s the real world,” said Eric Beltran, psychology and Chicano studies double major, who will be graduating in December.

Beltran is currently in waiting mode for graduate school. He says if he gets accepted, he’ll be the first in his family to advance to a graduate program.

“While El Paso has typically offered more limited, high-level career opportunities for students—especially those with advanced degrees—that trend is changing as the economy continues to recover and El Paso’s industries diversify,” said Louie Rodriguez, assistant vice president for student affairs.

El Paso has traditionally been a city that caters well to the low-skilled worker. And depending on the degree, a graduate may be somewhat limited in opportunities in the city.

“Whether students leave to find work or not is often very dependent on which field they have chosen,” Rodriguez said.

Primary concerns upon graduating are salary and cost of living.

“One major factor in salary competitiveness is cost of living,” Rodriguez said. “El Paso enjoys a lower overall cost of living than many major cities in Texas and across the U.S., which has to be taken into account when considering salary.”

Matthew Castro will be graduating in mechanical engineering in December. Castro interned for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics this past summer in Ft. Worth and has been hired to work as a materials process engineer sustaining aircraft planes such as F-22’s and F-16’s.

Castro said he loves UTEP and his hometown, but the opportunity for his desired job is elsewhere.

“I have to see what other opportunities come about,” he said.

El Paso simply cannot compete with the Houston market for engineers, Castro said.

El Paso is predominantly a place to open a business or work in nursing or health sciences.

Diego Guerra graduated in May 2014 with a BBA in accounting and is working at his family-owned company, Isabella Foods.

Guerra had been working for the company since he began college in 2010. He said it’s a good strategic decision to work in the food industry here in El Paso.

“There’s a lot of people that doubt the city, that count us out,” Guerra said. “If we want to change El Paso, it’s our turn to take hold of the reins. It’s up to us (new graduates) to see what we want to make of the city in 10 years.”

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected]