From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate people and traditions of Hispanic Heritage – those who have come before us, and the leaders of tomorrow. We recognize their achievement, honor their cultures, and commemorate the heritage and history of Hispanic Americans who have helped shape the face of America. Mays Business school recognizes the remarkable contributions of its Hispanic American students, faculty, staff, and former students who continue to advance the world’s prosperity.
In the Beginning
With roots in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, Celeste Nava ’23, Business Honors student, embodies the hard work and determination underwriting the Hispanic American experience. Nava, who graduated Valedictorian from her high school, set a high bar and clear goals. A first-generation college student, given the opportunity to attend virtually any university, she only had eyes for Texas A&M.
“Call it tunnel vision, I only applied to Texas A&M,” shared Nava. “The school, the network, the students – from the moment I first stepped foot on campus, I knew this was the place I needed to be.” One college application and acceptance letter later, Nava began her journey as a Mays freshman eager to achieve academic success but also ambitious to show her leadership chops beyond the classroom. She knew Mays could offer her the resources, direction, educational value, and opportunities to prove herself that every college student longs for. Now, stepping into her senior year, Nava reflects on all she’s accomplished and experienced in her time at Texas A&M – the good, the great, and the struggle.
Excelling in Aggieland
With a vision for her future that included lofty goals and bigger dreams, Nava quickly found herself in the Aggie community, immediately buying into the tradition and culture, connecting with the people around her. As a freshman, the next step in her plan included academic exceptionalism at Mays, as she applied to the Business Honors Program.
Although excited and determined, when it came time for her to interview for the Honors program, Nava felt overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Describing the emotions that accompanied her application process, Nava was transparent about the challenges. Even as a student excelling academically, she stated, “I didn’t know how competitive the program was, I just wanted to apply even if it was a long shot.” Despite her trepidation, Celeste wowed the committee. “I was so vulnerable with them! I cried during my interview,” sharing that, “despite being unsure of what to say, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program!” Her passion, personality, and intelligence made up for any uncertainty, Nava’s authenticity during her interview left the Mays representatives uniquely in awe.
Self-doubt and anxiety lingered in the weeks that followed. “There was no way I was getting in after my interview… I mean I just cried!” explained Nava. “I thought, it’s not going to happen for me.” But the Business Honors team was as excited to accept Celeste as she was to join the group. Nava’s ability to be vulnerable, honest, and open has underscored her successes at Texas A&M. In concert with those traits, her dynamic energy and penchant for encouragement leave an indelible imprint on everyone she meets. Part of what makes her so relatable is her imperfect path to success.
Turning Struggle to Success
Like many other students, Nava is no stranger to trial and tribulation. Spanish is her first language, and learning English afforded her empathy and a fresh perspective toward others facing obstacles. “I felt that I was a part of two different worlds,” she shared. Growing up, Nava struggled to communicate with teachers and had difficulty making friends because of the language barrier. “It’s great now, being bilingual, but it took 21 years of perseverance.” Nava participated in multiple ESL (English as a Second Language) programs as she worked to master English and to overcome the challenges of communicating simultaneously in two different languages. Simultaneously, she navigated the complexity of two distinct cultural perspectives — her interactions with her family and her connections with her school community. Instead of derailing her efforts, Nava’s struggles nurtured her high-achieving work ethic and determination.
Now, she’s leveraging those experiences to make a difference in the Aggie community. This year as a senior, Nava is the Minority Outreach Director of Howdy Crew (Texas A&M’s welcoming committee for prospective students) where she has been a powerful advocate for students for whom English is not their first language. Wanting to create a sense of belonging for students like herself, Celeste’s ears perked when students reached out to Howdy Crew to request Spanish Speaking interpreters for campus tours. To her dismay, none were available – an opportunity for the impact she couldn’t ignore. In her role, Nava was able to establish a program for (and to train) Spanish-speaking tour guides to hold campus tours in Spanish. “Now Spanish-speaking students and families can be just as engaged as their English-speaking counterparts in getting to know Texas A&M,” shared Nava, “and hopefully they can experience that same sense of belonging that defined my introduction to Aggieland.”
Continuing to Grow
Nava is bold and determined, steadfast in her desire to make an impact both on and off campus. When asked about a prospective career path, her answer has been consistent since early high school: a lawyer, with a specific interest in criminal defense. Like many students, she sought an internship in her field of interest and found one, through a client of her parents. When the time came to tap into the Aggie network, her father knew just who to ask. So, for the past two summers, Nava has interned with Criminal Defense Attorney, Mark Lassiter ’02 (also a Mays former student). Nava experienced Aggies helping Aggies firsthand, and Lassiter is just as grateful to work alongside her, “Celeste has become an invaluable member of my office since she began as an intern,” shared Lassiter. “She is loyal to a fault and her integrity is unparalleled.” Nava has gained real-world experience and learned a lot from this Aggie-led team. With her dedication to the law office, her studies, and her leadership in multiple organizations at Mays, Nava inspires those in her university community to strive for more, those who share her Hispanic heritage, and those who don’t.
Mays’ vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. In keeping with that focus, the school prioritizes leveraging the strengths of its diverse student population, as part of its efforts to equip the next generation of leaders. With students like Celeste Nava, Mays will further its mission, all while equipping its students to make a valuable impact in their communities. Nava’s story is unique, and she strives to leverage her experiences and education to change the world, one step at a time. But the advantages that come with being a part of the Mays family are not lost on her. “Mays is like a tunnel; the way you go in is not the same way you come out,” she shared. Certainly, Nava has laid the foundation for students like herself to drive forward progress, walking out of the tunnel with more heart and determination than when they started. Nava may have roots in multiple worlds, but she is right at home in her Aggie community and is committed to helping others feel that same sense of belonging.