I Heart My School: University of Texas at El Paso

To give you the chance to tell the world why you love your school — and help you pay for it — we offer the I Heart My School Scholarship essay contest. Recently, we announced our fall 2017 winner: Trina Abdulnour, from Wayne State University

This week, we wanted to share our third-place essay about the University of Texas at El Paso, by Caitlin Chanoi. 

Scroll down to see Chanoi’s pictures and read about why she loves UTEP so much.

If you love your school, you can learn more and apply for our upcoming fall scholarship here.



When walking from class to class at the University of Texas at El Paso, one can see for miles. The campus is centered high in the city, in a place that truly encapsulates what it means to live in El Paso, and what it means to go to its school. The University of Texas at El Paso is nestled between two mountains, two cities, and two countries. To the north, the Franklin Mountains and landscape of the southwestern United States smile over a constant stream of students. To the south, the activity on campus is mirrored by those going about their daily lives across the hills of Juarez, Mexico. Lying within a mile of the Texas-Mexico border, UTEP is home to Americans and Mexicans alike. This is why I love my school. Perched on an international border, it nurtures both sides of a bicultural community.

It would be easy to write about the abundance of distinctive locations that make The University of Texas at El Paso the best school, but I have instead chosen to write about something less concrete: a feeling of community. What I love most about my school is that it is a common place for students to gather, learn and create. UTEP has created a strong, connected community made up of people from each side of the border. It embraces anyone who wishes to be a part of the University. When attending school, students are not Mexican, or American. At UTEP everyone is a “Miner”. They are not defined by their language, their race, or their nationality. This seamless integration is what has given the University a unique quality that I cherish.

Much of UTEP’s student body is made up of young adults who cross the border every day to attend the University. Because it is so close Mexico, the University is a swirl of cultures. The bicultural nature of the campus is easily heard in the languages spoken around UTEP. Here it is common to hear both Spanish and English spoken in equal measure — even mixed into a popular El Paso amalgam fondly referred to as “Spanglish”. These languages overlap creating a musical score, that energizes me as I move across campus, and orchestrates the activity of the students.

This combination of communities and traditions in and around UTEP culminates in every college student’s favorite thing: good food. There is plenty American and Mexican food on campus. Among the different American chain restaurants in the student union, popular Mexican street foods like “elote en vaso” or “corn in a cup” are also available. This creamy mixture of sweet corn, butter, and crumbled cheese, sprinkled with chili and lime fills the building with the enticing scent of simple Mexican treats. At all UTEP sporting events, vendors selling tacos al pastor, flautas, and aguas frescas can be found among those selling classic American fares like hot dogs, hamburgers, and popcorn. I delight in my school because its palate is just as rich and varied as its people.

I love my school because it is a reflection of the city around it. El Paso, Texas is a bicultural community, and that is echoed in the University. At UTEP the separate cultures of this community blend together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico are two communities living in the same desert, in the shadow of the same mountain — an international border divides us but we are brought together by the University through a shared interest in education. I love my school because it nurtures my community, is an educational center for both sides of the international border, is home to a blend of different cultures, cultivates its own melody composed of two languages, and provides me comfort through the aroma and sounds of the border.