Fulbright Award Fulfills UT Grad’s Dream

Published: May 31, 2012
Carlos Salinas Zárate ’12 has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue graduate degrees in Madrid and New York City.
Carlos Salinas Zárate ’12 has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue graduate degrees in Madrid and New York City.
Carlos Salinas Zárate ’12 received his diploma at May Commencement – where he also introduced the commencement speaker – and will finish up his classes in August. Like many graduates, he has plans to travel to Europe.

Salinas Zárate, though, won’t be a tourist. He’ll be a Fulbright Fellow.

“It’s such an honor,” said Salinas Zárate, who is an international business and economics major. “It’s huge.”

The UT senior, who was born in Miami and raised in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, will start in October in Madrid, Spain, where he’ll earn a master’s degree in business and economic digital communication from the Instituto de Empresa (IE). On completion, he’ll intern with UNESCO headquarters in Paris for six months. He will then continue his graduate studies at Columbia University in New York City, working toward a second master’s degree in public administration.

“I have traveled to many places and have a curiosity about learning languages and culture,” said Salinas Zárate, who worked hard to become a Fulbright Fellow, the flagship international educational exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. government with alumni that include 43 Nobel and 81 Pulitzer prize winners, 28 MacArthur Foundation Fellows and 29 who have served as heads of state or government.

From speaking multiple languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French and English), to studying in Monaco for four months when he was just 14, to representing Nicaragua in a Latin American debate competition in high school, to receiving a UT Honors Research Fellowship for 2009-2010 and serving in several U.S. State Department internships, Salinas Zárate has a full résumé.

It was while serving as a State Department intern in Madrid last summer that he was encouraged to apply for the Fulbright program. It was a last-minute decision that he balanced with his intern duties, which included courting 65 U.S. companies investing in Spain and Portugal – like General Electric, Amazon and Google – to participate financially in a special July 4 party. He had to fly to Paris to take his GRE, apply to both IE and Columbia and apply for the Fulbright program, receiving acceptance into each.

Awarded to only one U.S. student each year, the program covers all his expenses during his studies. Salinas thought it unlikely that he could be chosen from such a highly competitive field of applicants, but he decided to give it a shot.

“If you never try, you’ll never learn,” Salinas Zárate said. “I’ve always felt that taking risk is a way to learn something.”

Salinas Zárate said the Fulbright program will be a wealth of opportunity and fulfill his goal of receiving a European diploma, making him all the more competitive. His dream, though, he said is just to wake up each day knowing that his life is making a difference.

“I would like to make an impact in others’ lives,” said Salinas Zárate. “I know as a diplomat I can do that. My passion and my happiness are seeing that my work is making a change; that it’s making a difference.”