April 28, 2021 — Many students enter UTSA as undergrads without a clear picture of their career path. As a master’s student, that may be less common – but Jasmine Soler proves that it can be done, and a successful career path can come from surprising places.
Soler earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma, and while she knew what she wanted in a master’s program, she intentionally sought out flexible programs that could lead to several careers. “I noticed that UTSA had a variety of different psychology programs, which was really going to help me,” Soler said. “I knew I wanted to do social psychology, but I was still kind of floating different ideas around.”
Another key part of her decision to study psychology with UTSA was the mentorship aspect to the program. “You get to work really close with someone on the faculty, and they take a lot of time out of their day to work with you,” she said. “That really appealed to me.”
While mentors are usually assigned based on research interests, Soler found hers during the meet and greet at the start of the year. “I met with Dr. Pillow and I could tell our interests really aligned,” she said, “and I was able to switch into his lab.”
Soler emphasizes that finding the right mentor is key to having a great master’s experience, and she credits Professor David Pillow with her success. “I don’t think I would be nearly as capable if I didn’t have Dr. Pillow taking so much time on my thesis,” she said. “Even in the very beginning, I was struggling with a paper in a class that was completely unrelated to my thesis and he took hours out of the afternoon to help me with it.”
“Jasmine is simply an amazing student,” Pillow said. “She is highly intelligent, has a work ethic second to none, turns around assignments and tasks quickly, has a wonderful and collaborative disposition. I have no doubt that she will surpass expectations [in her career] as she has done in my lab.”
Soler is set to graduate this May with her master’s in hand, and already has a job lined up: the chief operations officer at a credit union. “It may seem out of left field on the surface,” Soler explained, “but having a master’s degree proved I could handle the business side and a lot of different things that are thrown at me.”
Her advice for incoming master’s students is simple: find a mentor, and get involved as much as possible. “COVID stripped a lot of those opportunities for us,” she said. “I have made a lot of virtual connections, but it reminds me of the connections I could have made if we were all back in person.”
Those connections will last as she moves to Oklahoma to begin her new career – she anticipates staying in touch with her cohort as well as her mentor, Dr. Pillow. Soler’s story is one of many that illustrate the diversity of careers available with this degree, and the value of connection at UTSA.