“Unpredictable,” is how graduating senior Adrian Abeyta describes his overall college experience at the University of New Mexico.
“In my brain I always have steps of things I want to get done,” Abeyta said. “I am probably a totally different person than I was when I started, and I really could never have predicted that I’d be a mechanical engineer.”
Although he is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering this month, it wasn’t always Abeyta’s chosen degree path. He first started out as an Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media (IFDM) major and even did a semester-long stint in Pre-Pharmacy before settling on engineering.
Abeyta’s younger brother, Esteban, 22, was not as surprised when Abeyta decided to pursue mechanical engineering.
“In all my memories growing up with my brother, I can remember him asking questions about how everything around us worked,” Esteban said. “I never cared about some of these things, but he always seemed to want to know more.”
Esteban recalled a time when they were kids and Abeyta showed interest in knowing what happens when someone uses a key to start a car. To Esteban, the process seemed simple, but Abeyta still pressed to find out exactly how it worked.
“His insistence to know exactly how the simple turning of a key results in the ignition of an engine highlights exactly the type of thinking Adrian possesses,” Esteban said.
Abeyta grew up in Española, New Mexico with two brothers — one older and one younger — who motivated him to finish school. However, his older brother, Joe, had an especially strong impact on Abeyta.
Joe, 24, owns his own business — a barbershop.
“(Joe’s) the one that has always been like ‘if you’re happy doing what you want to do — then do it. But if you’re not then what’s the point,’ ” Abeyta said. “He's a big motivation for showing me that this is what I wanted to do and that you need to put in hard work to do it.”
Abeyta lived up to his brothers’ advice. Joe said he put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is today.
“Hard work really does pays off,” Joe said. “I have seen Adrian grind every step of the way for the last few years of undergrad and it is such an amazing thing to see him achieve what he has so far and continue to pursue his dreams.”
In the fall, Abeyta plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. The school’s focus on robotics, but also the distance was part of the decision.
“A part of myself wanted to go to UNM because I had family here and the same other half wants to leave because I have family here,” Abeyta said. “Not necessarily in a bad way, but like to go out and be like on your own, totally by yourself, full adulting.”
As for after the program, Abeyta isn’t sure where life will take him. He is considering either working for himself in engineering or pursuing a PhD.
“I’m not sure if I want to go more so on the research side, or on the management side,” Abeyta said. “I’ll decide that in two years when I get there.”
Although seeing Abeyta leave Albuquerque to attend UT Austin in the fall may be “bittersweet” for his brothers, they both agree that the school has a lot to offer him.
“Not only will he get to challenge himself academically, but I think his time there will bring great self-growth as well,” Joe said.
“Together with cutting edge research and new mentors, I know he’ll be able to continue developing what he’s already learned at UNM to become an exceptional engineer,” Esteban said.
Final advice Abeyta wanted to give students at UNM is to have a plan, but not be upset when the plan doesn’t work out.
“Say yes to more opportunities,” Abeyta said. “You’ll be okay if you don’t do well on a test. You’ll survive. Life goes on.”
Makayla Grijalva is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria.