We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Estefania Gutierrez

May 6, 2016

Just a few years ago, when Estefania Gutierrez was still in high school, she never thought she would have the opportunity to attend college. It wasn’t until she met Edelmira Segovia, director of UNCW’s Centro Hispano resource center, that she realized she not only had potential, but real options and a wealth of resources.

“After meeting Centro students…I had no doubt in my mind that UNCW was for me,” said Gutierrez, who is the first person in her family to graduate from high school. “I felt like I had a family here from the moment I applied, which has aided in my success.”

Now Gutierrez, who is part of the Class of 2016, is set to graduate with a degree in psychology. She has packed the last four years with accomplishments and activities. Gutierrez, the current president of Centro Hispano, has been heavily involved with MI CASA, the center’s mentoring program for Hispanic/Latino high-school students. She has also served as the social chair for Ritmo Latino, a student organization dedicated to Latin dancing.

All the while, Gutierrez has been hard at work in the community through jobs with Hope Harbor Home Inc. and Hispanic Victim Shelter Aid. Somehow, Gutierrez still found time to study abroad in Puebla, Mexico. She received UNCW’s Cornerstone Senior Medallion Award, a distinguished award bestowed on just 25 seniors each year for excellence in academics, service and leadership.

One of Gutierrez’s goals is to help UNCW students become more connected to their community. Through Centro Hispano, she has volunteered at several public schools. She loves to see parents becoming more involved in their child’s education and finds joy in answering their questions regarding higher education.

“I wish the general public knew of all the resources that are available to students,” Gutierrez said. “[UNCW] really is a place that fosters growth and development as long as you are willing to seek and ask for help. We have populations of minority students that aren’t being reached around campus. I wish they knew that resources like Centro Hispano and the Upperman African American Center exist.”

Beyond helping young students realize their full potential in higher education, Gutierrez has also discovered a love for research. Earlier this year, she was accepted as a coauthor into a conference for the Society of Research on Adolescence, a high honor for an undergraduate student. She hopes to replicate this achievement in her continued research on Mexican adolescents. She views research as an integral part of her advocacy and community involvement.

“Helping others is something I am passionate about,” Gutierrez said. “I will continue to spend time working on research, and hopefully my future job will allow me to continue to build relationships between students on campus and in the community.”

--Caitlin Taylor