Ana Ruiz graduated from YES Prep in 2012 and from Trinity University in 2016. In college, she majored in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in communications. She now works at Stage Stores’ corporate office, in the marketing department as a print production coordinator. Stage Stores is a department store company with several nameplates throughout the US, including their Houston brand, Palais Royal.
What obstacles or challenges did you face as you transitioned from high school to college?
Even though I was only three hours away, it was my first time being away from home, so it was an adjustment. I had this new level of independence and responsibilities. In terms of course work, I felt prepared. For me, the challenges were time management, learning styles, and feelings of homesickness. I joined several organizations on campus and kept myself busy. I also surrounded myself with people that made me feel at home and checked in with my friends and family in Houston often.
What were you involved in outside of coursework?
I was a student ambassador, a member of our Latino Association, a member of a hip hop dance group and the community outreach manager for our residence hall. I loved working in community outreach. As part of the residence hall I lived at, we created partnerships with several nonprofits around San Antonio. Each week, we volunteered with a specific community partner to help those who were experiencing homelessness. Serving the same organization every week allowed us to truly get to know the people there. We met a lot of people and heard their stories. It was definitely one of the highlights of my time at Trinity.
Did you do any internships?
My freshman year of college, I was an intern with an organization that educated the community on immunization practices. I learned about non-profits and what goes on behind the scenes. For example, I created contact lists for giving events. My sophomore and junior years, I was an intern with Silver Eagle Distributors. That internship sparked my interest in public relations and marketing. I worked with their digital marketing manager and corporate social responsibility specialist. I helped set up for events like Free Press and Texans games.
What was your path to your current role?
In the spring of my senior year, I was applying to jobs in marketing, public relations, and community outreach. This particular role really interested me– though it wasn’t what I initially expected I’d be doing. I’m now working more on the financial side of marketing. I handle the budgeting, approval process, and everything that goes into executing our print collateral (like mailers and what’s in our stores). I’ve also worked with our public relations team on several activations. I love that I get to combine being able to interact with people and work with numbers.
What are your future career goals?
Long term, I see myself as the Corporate Giving or Corporate Social Responsibility Director for a company. Volunteering has always been a passion of mine– as has working in a position that interacts with others.
What have you carried from YES Prep into your current role?
When I was at YES Prep, we had the Thinks & Acts, and one that has really stuck with me is “Leave a place better than you found it.” This can mean different things to different people– from community service to smaller things like throwing away a piece of trash if you see it. Our actions create a ripple effect; little things can make a big impact, and I carry that idea with me every day.
What is one of your favorite memories from your time at YES Prep?
When I was at YES Prep, we were part of our class leadership council. Once a month, during our morning meetings we showed a grade level ‘news channel’ video. We had comic sketches, guests, etc. My favorite one was when the new Southeast building was under construction. We did an MTV Cribs edition where we showed the students the construction of the new building. Our teachers were always so willing to come on the show and enthusiastic to help any way they could. That memory always reminds me of how great and supportive our teachers were.