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Student-Athlete Graduates and Receives Coveted Fellowship  
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 6, 2013 – Lauren Berletch is reaping the reward for all her efforts – she has been awarded a South Texas Graduate Fellowship to The University of Texas at Austin, where she will pursue a Master of Arts in the UT College of Communication.
Berletch will graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College at Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 11.
Lauren Berletch
Lauren Berletch
“This is so amazing, I am so fortunate,” Berletch said. “I read about this online and thought, ‘Why don’t I try for it?’ What a surprise it was when they notified me. Without this fellowship, I’d be buried in student loans for a very long time.”
Bringing in credits from dual enrollment classes taken at Brownsville’s Porter High School, and taking full loads every semester and attending summer classes, Berletch is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in three years. When she enrolled at the university, she thought she would probably be heading to law school at this juncture. However, her goals changed as a result of an internship at a Brownsville law firm.
“When I began my internship last summer, I thought I would be doing something related directly to law, maybe doing research,” she said. “But they put me to work on the marketing, advertising and social media, and before I knew it, and I found I really liked that aspect of business. I changed my mind about law school, and now I want to focus on advertising. In fact, UT is one of the few schools in the nation that offers a master’s in advertising through the College of Communication.”
Commencement will also mean saying goodbye to her friends and teammates on the women’s volleyball team, where Berletch has played during her three years at the university.
“Lauren is a remarkable student-athlete who always managed to find time to balance academics and athletics,” said Todd Lowery, Athletic Director and Women’s Volleyball Coach.
Upon joining the team, Berletch immediately became part of an international group of women – Brazilian, German and Serbian – practicing together and becoming roommates in Casa Bella student housing. She said it was extra special being a part of the team that won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship in the fall of 2011.
“Lauren always came to practice with a smile, was a joy to work with, and above all else, she was a great teammate,” Lowery said. “She was always there to help out anybody with anything they might need, and it was a pleasure to have Lauren on our team the last several years.” 
Having been in the top 10 percent of the 2010 graduating class of Porter High School, Berletch was invited to be a University Scholar. There were scholarship offers from a couple other good schools, but they weren’t as attractive as the one she received for her hometown university. 
“I feel University Scholars is a great program; it offers so much,” she said. “The financial part is wonderful, covering tuition, books and housing, but it is so much more. You know if you are having trouble in a class, there is always help available, and it is a great way to network. And Heather Olague [University Scholars Coordinator] was really so helpful in getting me ready for graduate school.”
Berletch’s parents are both teachers at schools in Brownsville, and her older brother graduated from Texas A&M University in December.
“I’ll be the first in my family to go to grad school. That’s exciting,” she said. “I am looking forward to two years in Austin, learning so much and meeting new people. I picture myself someday working for a big advertising firm.”
She has another post-graduate school goal - to visit all her teammates in their countries and meet their families.
“That would be so awesome,” Berletch said. “My parents have been able to attend home games and meet my teammates, and the team came over to our house for barbecue the day before we left for national finals our winning year.”
For the moment, she will breathe a sigh of relief finishing this last semester carrying 21 credit hours, and continue her internship through the summer. Then in mid-August, it will be time to load up her and her parents’ cars and head off to the Austin studio apartment she has already leased.
“My three years here have been wonderful,” Berletch said. “I have enjoyed being a part of the team and getting to know my teammates, and I have had some good professors, like Dr. Clara Downey [Assistant Professor in the School of Business]. I really like the way she teaches; she gives you both sides and lets you decide for yourself. She doesn’t try to persuade you one way or the other, in fact, she never reveals her point of view or who she votes for, and I admire that in a professor.”
For information on University Scholars, contact Heather Olague at 956-882-5775 or


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