The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation recently named UTSA student Anna Almaraz ’23 the 2023 Harvey Najim Future Texas Business Legend award recipient. Almaraz, who is being recognized for her accomplishments in entrepreneurship and leadership, will receive the award at the Texas Business Hall of Fame’s annual induction dinner in November.
The Foundation recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding Texas business leaders by celebrating their stories and contributions. Additionally, the organization recognizes student and veteran entrepreneurs through awards named after enshrined members of the business community, including Foundation legends Mark Cuban, Kendra Scott, Graham Weston, Carlos Alvarez and Harvey Najim, among others.
Almaraz is among 38 students from Texas universities who were selected by the Foundation for this year’s awards. Other Roadrunners recognized as finalists this year included students Jaz Burgess and Jesus “Jesse” Guillen as well as alumni Arnob Haque ’23 and Jorge Murillo ’23.
Almaraz graduated in May with a B.B.A. in marketing and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship and leadership from the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business (ACOB). She also serves as the student venture analyst for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Najim Center.
“Anna’s drive is contagious. She brings a fresh outlook on what it truly means to be a thought leader in this world. I knew from the moment I met Anna she was the puzzle piece that was needed to help reawaken the true spirit of student innovation and entrepreneurship at UTSA,” said Erica Clark, the Najim Center’s director of student innovation and Blackstone LaunchPad campus director.
Almaraz is CEO and marketing director of Social Sophie Marketing LLC, a company she founded at the age of 15. She has collaborated with more than 25 clients to develop marketing strategies and guide conversations on evolving marketing trends. Since 2020, she has generated upwards of $650,000 in gross sales through numerous social media campaigns.
Almaraz leverages human relationships and provides services in strategy development, community management, social content creation and social listening. She has earned a breadth of clients, including internationally acclaimed authors Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson.
The Najim Center is part of the UTSA Career-Engaged Learning academic support division. Its experiential learning programs provide students with a greater understanding of the marketable skills needed in the workplace and are particularly important in linking classroom success to life after graduation.
As part of its strategic plan, UTSA aims for 75% of its undergraduate students to participate in some type of experiential learning by the time they graduate.
“I have been so impressed by how much experience, grit and overall desire to make a positive impact in the world our business students are graduating with nowadays. It has been such a delight to have seen Anna grow,” said Krishna Garza-Baker, assistant director of experiential learning programs for the Alvarez College of Business. “I am confident that Anna will do many good things for many people through her entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills while inspiring the path for many future young Latina entrepreneurs.”
Almaraz describes her own journey as one marked by determination.
“As a Latina leader, dedicated first-generation college student, and a trailblazer, I’ve embraced a journey defined by determination and resilience,” Almaraz said. “My earliest memories of work involved scrubbing toilets alongside my mother at the age of seven, a testament to the work ethic instilled in me from the very beginning. Balancing these responsibilities, while caring for my younger brother with autism, has been a challenge I’ve met head-on, with unwavering determination.”
An aspiring philanthropist, Almaraz consistently discovers new ways to make meaningful contributions to her community. She is especially passionate about mentorship and advocacy for rising entrepreneurs. She aims to use her business success and experience to inspire young entrepreneurs to expand their business ideas and become inclusive leaders.
Four other Roadrunners have won Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation awards in recent years. They include 2021 winners David Robinson Jr. ’21 and Devanshi Patel ’21, and 2022 winners Connor Gallagher-Moore ’19, ’22 and Howard “Tony” Treser ’22.