Starting her own marketing company at just 15 years old, Anna Almaraz has a heart for servant leadership and entrepreneurship. Graduating this May with her B.B.A. degree in marketing from the Carlos Alvarez College of Business at UTSA, Almaraz looks forward to her internship with H-E-B this summer and heading back to school in the fall for her MBA.
With her original sights set on a career in the arts, Almaraz attended the magnet performing arts school, NESA, where she studied cinema and filmmaking. Her perspectives on her future began to change when her film teacher, Konise Millender, complimented her speaking abilities and personability, suggesting that she would be great in the field of marketing.
After some research, Almaraz quickly pivoted to the thought of pursuing marketing in college and began developing her own company, Social Sophie Marketing, LLC. Soon after Almaraz landed her first client, Shawn Achor, a New York Times best-selling author who has presented Ted Talks and been featured on Oprah.
“My mom and I used to clean his house, so when I established my brand, I took my chance and approached him. Six years later, I now work with his sister on materials for the Digital Wellness Institute,” said Almaraz.
Almaraz grew up as a first-generation college student. After the separation of her parents and her brother’s autism diagnosis, she assumed responsibility at a young age, cleaning houses with her mother and helping take care of her brother.
Since working with Achor, Almaraz has worked with over 20 clients and hopes to grow her business within the next 5-10 years to establish roots in bigger cities, as well as hire employees that will grow her business further.
“A whole chain of events led me to my marketing journey and to now my future MBA journey. My life hasn’t been easy, but I am here and am determined to be the successful CEO of my business,” stated the young entrepreneur.
Taking part in the National Society of Leadership and Success and being a work study in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business Dean’s Office were a few roles she took on during her time at UTSA. The offices that she holds closest to her heart are the Alvarez Student Success Center, University Career Center and the Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement.
Almaraz utilized all of the resources she could at UTSA, whether it was improving her LinkedIn profile or resume. Along the way she was mentored by Krishna Garza-Baker, assistant director of experiential learning at the Alvarez Student Success Center, and Bryana Ortiz, senior career consultant at the University Career Center. With the help of both organizations, Almaraz was able to expand her professional development and establish herself as a Texas business owner.
Reflecting on her undergraduate journey, Almaraz values the professionalism and growth she has obtained because of the resources that the university provides. Being a first-generation student, she had to navigate her college experience on her own. Once she began to delve into the services designed to foster student success, it helped her exponentially as a student and young entrepreneur.
“Being able to meet people like Krishna Garza-Baker, Bryana Ortiz and Erica Clark from the Najim Center has been a blessing in itself. It’s amazing to attend a university staffed with amazing people who are willing to help you succeed in any way possible,” said Almaraz.
Almaraz cherishes her accomplishments of earning consecutive spots on the President’s List, being a finalist for Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the college at the UTSA University Life Awards and a finalist for the Texas Business Hall of Fame for Scholars. She also looks forward to participating in the Najim Strategist Program at the Najim Center, where she will facilitate programming serving as a graduate assistant there as she continues her UTSA journey to obtain her MBA this fall.
Almaraz urges students to go to networking events and utilize the free resources that the Alvarez Student Success Center and the University Career Center provide.
She also encourages students to start establishing themselves early. “Start your LinkedIn, resume, involvement, everything early! Never be afraid to talk to people. Don’t be afraid to take chances because the worst thing someone will ever say to you is ‘no,’ and then you move on to the next. In a billion ‘no’s’ you’ll find that one ‘yes’ that will change everything,” she stated.
Being a driven entrepreneur and self-starter, Almaraz aspires to grow her company, Social Sophie Marketing, LLC., to provide jobs for fellow Texans and give back to the community as much as possible.
“My spirit, my blood and my passion is entrepreneurship; I want to be a CEO. I hope to be a philanthropist in the last half of my life and to give back to my community as much as possible.”