While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, junior Kyle Catarata takes pride in being a student at UNLV, but he wasn’t always adamant about attending the university. Initially, he wanted to leave Vegas, until he realized leaving the city also meant leaving the strong connections he had made throughout the valley.
Staying home for college offered Catarata familiarity. He took many trips to the Lied Library with his high school program to learn how to write effective research papers. So, unlike many of his peers, he had a good sense of the resources UNLV offers. It's what ultimately made him realize that UNLV was the right school for him.
Best part about being in Las Vegas for college?
To say that by staying in Las Vegas opened a plethora of opportunities for me is merely an understatement. I would say that Las Vegas did not only provide me with opportunities but provided me with an invaluable experience that will help me throughout my future academic and career goals.
From taking classes in the UNLV Honors College to experiencing different niches within my area of focus, it is the in-depth, well-rounded education I benefit from. Likewise, the vast array of extra-curricular activities on campus is nothing short of diverse. Currently serving as president of both the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Student Advisory Council as well as the Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Honor Society, I have witnessed not only some of the most astute students in our city but also the most passionate and ambitious. Serving also as the Assistant Director in CSUN Student Government as well as the professional development coordinator at the Honors College, I have acknowledged the extensive great work that is put into representing our student body and running our institution as a whole.
In addition, being in the heart of Las Vegas opened many doors to opportunities I never knew were available — such as interning at the U.S. House of Representatives for Congresswoman Dina Titus, to interning with Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, which in turn helped lead the way to my position at the Nevada Governor’s Office for Workforce Innovation. I have been able to get a sense of what it is like to pursue a career in public service, but these experiences did not end here. I was able to take the skills and knowledge I gained from UNLV and take it with me around the community. Currently volunteering at the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada as an education advocate, I am able to learn more about advocacy work and the legal process for ensuring that schools are providing students with disabilities their special educational services.
Number one reason a future student should consider UNLV?
The opportunity to do more. There are plenty of opportunities that are readily available that many future students simply do not see firsthand. Personally, I did not see them as a senior in high school. However, with the diverse clubs and organizations, passionate faculty, array of services dedicated solely for college students, as well as a well-rounded academic curriculum, these are just a few out of the many opportunities and resources available here at UNLV.
There are a handful of like-minded students who are becoming leaders and are starting organizations that not only mean a lot to them but mean a lot to the academic philosophy and integrity of UNLV.
What have you been involved with outside the classroom?
Besides being involved on campus, some organizations I am involved in would consist of the APIAVote, Pacific Atrocities Education, as well as the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada. Moreover, I was able to use the skills and experiences I have gained by studying at UNLV and apply to national internships, ranging from historical research internships to also legal internships in San Francisco, California.
Challenges you've overcome?
Besides being unable to secure parking in Cottage Grove … (which has) been solved by remote learning, my biggest challenge that I’ve overcome at UNLV would be comparing myself to others. Somewhat related to imposter syndrome, I often doubted if I was even smart enough or even bright enough to speak about a topic in class. I later realized that no one is smarter or more accomplished than you. We’re all the same; we’re all just college students at the end of the day.
Likewise, I realized that we’re all making it up as we go. So, there is no need to think that you have to do this by sophomore year or this by junior year because someone else did that. Nor do you have to participate in club X or major in some random field that you aren’t passionate about in order to succeed. Because everyone has their own interests and way of achieving their own success in college. You should not base your decisions on what someone else did. Comparing myself to others was definitely a hurdle I had to overcome. But had I not addressed this issue, I would probably not be where I am today. I learned one important principle that came from all this: comparison is the thief of joy.
What's it like learning in the midst of a pandemic?
The first tip that I would provide is knowing how to manage your time and being consistent with whatever schedule you set.
Whether you’re taking half in-person classes and half remote classes, or just taking all remote classes for the semester, knowing how to manage your time properly is key to thriving in this new online environment. Unfortunately, for many students who are taking their classes remotely, it may be difficult to manage your time and commit to that schedule as there may be a lot of distractions going on at home. However, being committed and consistent with the schedule you set will greatly affect not only how well you will perform, but also how well you will learn during this semester.
In addition, taking multiple breaks just for yourself, whether it be a five-minute break or even one whole hour out of your day, is definitely an important tip that many students should incorporate. Especially for those who have a job, internship, research, extracurriculars, and so many more activities, it is easy to forget something that we take for granted. Giving yourself breaks and leisure time paired with knowing how to manage your time, I think, are both important tips that many students should know during this unusual semester we are in.
Future plans? How will UNLV make your "it" happen?
If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. If opportunity does not strike, strike your own opportunity!
For example, an organization I am definitely interested in starting on campus would be the first undergraduate law review journal. This will provide a space for aspiring law students who wish to gain experience through writing and publishing legal issues that are valuable to them.