As the oldest of four children, UNT Dallas senior Luis Mata set an important example for his younger siblings. He is the first in his family to graduate from college. They will follow in his footsteps.
As a future entrepreneur, he hopes to set an example for those who want to pursue their dreams of running or owning a business.
A book Luis read in high school, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics of Success, inspired him to seek a college degree and chase his own dreams. “It resonated with me,” said Luis. “I want to be the motivation, not the only one achieving success. A role model and support system” for those like him.
Coincidentally, his high school principal at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in Dallas was Nakia Douglas, who is now Executive Director of TRIO and Pre-Collegiate Programs at UNT Dallas.
Success comes with hard work. Something Luis already knows very well. To get where he is today, he had to overcome many obstacles and challenges. Some were predictable, others unpredictable.
Luis learned English while being raised by parents who speak only Spanish. He saved every penny to help pay for tuition while growing up in near poverty. He navigated the often complicated and intimidating college application process. He endured the deaths of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. And he matured into the confident student leader he has become.
Now, as he prepares to graduate, Luis strongly believes he “made the right decision” in choosing UNT Dallas for several reasons. It was close to home, affordable, growing, and offered appealing courses and scholarships. He chose to major in Business Administration and minor in Spanish.
Although much of his learning at UNT Dallas was off-campus and virtual because of the pandemic, Luis still became very active in student organizations. The long list includes the Student Government Association (SGA), First Generation Club, Pre-Law Society, Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society, National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society (Sigma Delta Pi), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Collegiate Chapter, Bookstore Advisory Board, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, Student Service Fee Advisory Committee, and the KERA/KXT Community Advisory Board. While participating in all of these activities, Luis maintained a 3.8 GPA and held jobs to provide for himself.
Luis said the variety of student involvement opportunities is the No. 1 highlight of his time at UNT Dallas. “It’s a robust experience, not just going to classes.”
As the SGA finance officer, Luis became known as “Money Man Mata,” a nickname that spread beyond the SGA and across campus. Now, as he embarks on the next step in his higher education journey, he might earn another nickname, “MBA Mata.” Later this month, Luis will begin pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at UNT Dallas, with a concentration in Human Resources and Organizational Management. Also, this summer, he is starting a new full-time position with Amazon, where he hopes to grow his career and put that MBA to good use.
Recently, Luis was recognized for his many contributions and accomplishments at the annual UNT Dallas Leadership and Involvement Awards ceremony. He received five distinct honors: the Legacy Award, the Outstanding Achievement in Experiential Learning Award, SGA Executive Board Honorary Officer of the Year, the Student Organization of the Year (Sigma Delta Pi), and the Program of the Year Award (Spanish in the Community Program).
Last year, Luis was selected as one of 10,000 national 2022-2023 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholars from among a highly competitive pool of over 124,000 applicants across the country. This year, he has been named a finalist to be chosen as a 2023-2024 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar too, proudly representing UNT Dallas on a national level.
The awards and recognitions earned during his undergraduate journey, combined with his Bachelor of Arts in General Business (BBA) degree, put Luis on a path to success in the corporate world.
Luis’s mother always told him, “You will see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the rewards to follow.” At next week’s commencement, Luis is looking forward to seeing the “joy in her eyes” as his family celebrates his graduation. What a perfect Mother’s Day gift!
As Spring 2023 commencement nears, we are proud to celebrate Luis’s accomplishments. He is the definition of a Trailblazer. And he exemplifies the university’s mission of empowering students, transforming lives and strengthening communities.