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UTEP presents 35 under 35 Alumni Speaker Series

Photo credits: Alejandra Lopez
Michelle Esparza, Patrick Gabaldon, Eden Klein, Elisa Samaniego speak at the 35 under 35 Alumni in Law Speaker Series on September 7 2021

UTEP is hosting the year-long 35 under 35 Alumni Speaker Series, introducing students to 35 alumni under the age of 35 who have graduated from UTEP in their respective fields. The goal of this series is to present the possibilities of earning a UTEP degree and showing students how to make the most out of their college experience.  

The alumni share their stories and explain what they were able to accomplish with the opportunities their education at UTEP afforded them. The event is held in a Q and A panel format, hosted by a moderator while sparing time for questions led by the students towards the end. Each event has been organized to host a specific college (the Alumni of Law, Alumni Entrepreneurs, Alumni UTEP faculty, Alumni in Banking and Financial, Alumni in Media, and Alumni in the Health Profession), directed to those students.  

The event kicked off at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 7, beginning with the Law alumni. Attorney Eden Klein, Michelle Esparza, and Elisa Samaniego, and Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gabaldon started the event describing their time at UTEP, what it meant to leave for law school, and what it meant to come home to El Paso. They shared pointers that they picked up along the way and what opportunities helped with their overall college experience.   

The next event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 22, for the alumni of entrepreneurs. Speaking at the event will be Erik Pavia, CEO of Pantheon, Karen Aguilar, owner of Ke’Flauta, Estefania Amato of the International Language School, and Kat Forti of Work It Fitness Boutique. They will go into detail about their businesses and how they were able to get there along the way. Pavia, who also teaches entrepreneurship and technology for UTEP, described why he chose to come back. 

 “UTEP helped me navigate education and a professional career…UTEP gave me my first chance,” Pavia said.   

Along with teaching at UTEP, Pavia is also a CEO for his tech startup company, Pantheon, that is currently in the process of creating an app to promote health and wellness.  

“Entrepreneurship isn’t just for business majors, it’s for anyone,” he said.  

“As a student, you don’t realize that your fellow students are going to open so many doors for you. I want to show that it’s OK to be a leader,” Aguilar said.  

Aguilar owns Ke’Flauta, a small food chain in El Paso. She is excited to share her story of networking and showcase her leadership. The event is also an opportunity to speak with those who have trekked the path before and discuss options for the students’ projected career paths.  


The event will go on into the spring semester with the itinerary posted for the fall semester: 

Tuesday, Sept. 7: Alumni in Law 

Wednesday, Sept. 22: Alumni Entrepreneurs 

Tuesday, Oct.5: Alumni UTEP Faculty 

Wednesday, Oct. 20: Alumni in Banking and Financial 

Tuesday, Nov. 2: Alumni in Media 

Wednesday, Nov. 17: Alumni in the Health Profession 


All events will be hosted at noon in the Union Building, University Suite (third floor). Information can be found at 

Kristen Scheaffer can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Kristen Scheaffer, Contributor/Writer
Kristen Scheaffer is a senior, studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is starting her final semester at UTEP and The Prospector, with hopes of graduating in December. When she is not reporting, she can be found reading, writing, drawing, and hiking. Her aspirations include publishing her own writing and delving more into politics.
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UTEP presents 35 under 35 Alumni Speaker Series