Posted on December 4, 2023 by Rebekah Alegria

Non-traditional graduate student Chris Engstrom was born in Frankfurt, Germany to a military mother and later adopted at the age of 2.

Chris Engstrom pictured with wife receiving her degree.

After graduating from high school, he joined the Coast Guard and served for over 16 years as a corpsman. Learning the importance of discipline, teamwork and good leadership, this life-changing experience helped him develop his personal mantra, "Choose your challenges wisely. You can either face them head-on now or wait for them to become even more daunting later on."

For Engstrom his next great challenge was earning his Master of Science in Business degree in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. He had previously earned a bachelor's in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. Choosing to attend UTSA because of its positive impact on the community, cultural influence and highly-ranked business programs, Engstrom plans to use his education to make a positive impact on his community and beyond.

During your time at UTSA, what organizations have you been involved with?

During my time at UTSA, I have been actively involved in several programs and organizations, including the Society for Human Resource Management, Public Health Society, different M.S.B/MBA cohorts, UTSA Giving Day and local non-profits. Through these organizations I have had the opportunity to network, connect with like-minded individuals and gain valuable experience that has helped me grow personally, academically and professionally.

My involvement with the Society for Human Resource Management provided me with a platform to learn about the latest trends and best practices in human resource management, connect with industry experts and gain insight into the inner workings of the profession. It was a great opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge in this field, and it helped me gain a competitive edge in the job market.

Similarly, my involvement with the Public Health Society allowed me to explore my passion for public health and better understand public health's impact on society. It was an eye-opening experience that helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of public health initiatives, and the role they play in creating healthier communities.

I also participated in different M.S.B/MBA cohorts that helped me connect with other students and broaden my perspective on various business topics. These cohorts provided me with a platform to share my ideas and learn from others, and they helped me develop my critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Through my participation in UTSA Giving Day and local non-profits, I was able to give back to the community and create positive change. These experiences helped me develop my leadership and teamwork skills, and they taught me the importance of giving back to those in need. Overall, my involvement with these programs and organizations has been a positive experience that has led me to seek out new opportunities and ways to have a positive impact on the communities and people around me.

Why did you choose your major?

I decided to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) due to its reputation for providing a diverse and inclusive community for learners and scholars, as well as a highly-ranked business program. My time as an undergraduate at UTSA was very positive, which influenced my decision to pursue graduate studies at the same institution. I was impressed by the quality of education, supportive environment and the many opportunities available to students. I knew that if I continued my academic growth and personal development by pursuing graduate studies at UTSA, I would be able to combine my business education with my passion for public health and make a greater impact in the field of public health and the lives of those who depend on it.

Do you have any professional work experience or internships you have taken part in?

During my undergraduate and graduate years, I was an active member of a non-profit organization. Due to my professional and academic knowledge, I was elected to the board of directors, which enabled me to gain practical experience that complemented my academic pursuits. As a board member, I was involved in the organization's strategic planning, safety and community programs. Working with a diverse group of individuals and professionals helped me enhance my communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.

Being part of the board of directors while still in school provided me with a valuable opportunity to apply my classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. Additionally, it gave me the chance to give back to the community and make a positive impact on the lives of those around me.

What have been some of your proudest accomplishments at UTSA?

Participating in building educational and fundraising campaigns to support the local community on UTSA Giving Day was a moment that filled me with immense pride and a sense of accomplishment. It was truly amazing to witness the collective efforts of my personal, academic and community circles coming together to make a positive impact on the local community. This experience taught me the significance of teamwork, communication and community involvement, and it reinforced my belief in the importance of giving back to society. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of something bigger than myself, and to have made a positive change in the world around me.

What is your favorite thing about being a Roadrunner? What will you miss?

One of the things I love most about being a Roadrunner is the rich culture and sense of pride that I see on display. As I near graduation, what I will miss the most is the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals who share my passions. During my time here, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people who have become my friends, and I know that these relationships will last long after my time in the classroom has come to an end.

What are your plans upon graduating from UTSA this fall?

My goal is to work in government in a way that enables me to make a significant positive impact. I am primarily interested in becoming involved in policymaking and advocacy efforts related to public health.

What advice do you have for current business students?

As a graduate business student, you have the power to create a brighter future for yourself and the world. To achieve that, understanding what motivates you is crucial. It will help you align your values and interests with your coursework and extracurricular activities. By doing so, you can contribute positively to the world around you. Good grades are important, but it is equally essential to apply what you learn to real-world scenarios. This is where you can make a significant difference and create meaningful change. Therefore, it is important to identify your "why" and let your education guide you toward creating a better future for yourself and your communities.

Do you have any interesting talents or any fun facts about yourself that you would like to share?

One fun fact about me is that I've accomplished a few noteworthy running achievements. I successfully completed a 100K race in under 20 hours, and on another occasion, I ran the entire length of Tennessee in under 90 days.

— Rebekah Alegria