magazine-category: Students

Perseverance and Persistence

Amy Uriostegui

Amy Uriostegui, Offering Opportunities for Those Who Struggle

Born in Henderson County, N.C., to Mexican immigrants, Amy Uriostegui decided early in her life that no one was going to define her.

Amy Uriostegui walking with studentsThe Gardner-Webb University student didn’t give in to people who dismissed her as slow-witted or those who said she would never be able to go to college.

“I feel like when people stop believing in themselves, that’s when they make bad decisions,” Uriostegui explained. “I had a traumatic event in my life, and it could have impacted me really badly, but I knew I wanted something different.”

As a little girl, Uriostegui was labeled with learning disabilities. The turning point came when she had to repeat a grade. “Something clicked in my head,” Uriostegui reflected. “I looked at myself and said, ‘What are you doing?’ A relative had called me dumb. I felt like when I repeated that grade, I was giving him a little bit of control. I said, ‘He is not going to tell me what I am. I am going to do it.’ From that moment on, I made As and Bs (on my report cards).”

Uriostegui’s mother didn’t finish school, so when her parents separated, her mom couldn’t help her four children with their homework. A few dedicated teachers refused to give up on Uriostegui, and neighbors took her to church and introduced her to the Christian faith as a young child.

By the time Uriostegui reached the fifth grade, school personnel trusted her enough to ask her to translate for migrant families during parent meetings. “I understand the struggle of the child and the struggle of the mom,” Uriostegui affirmed. “I’ve seen my mom cry, because she is not able to help her children. I don’t want somebody to be in my mom’s shoes. I give my number to people and they call me for help.”

Not only does she help the parents, but Uriostegui tutors migrant children, assisting
with homework and reading with them. Her volunteer service also includes raising money for a hunger walk, working for the Salvation Army and babysitting for foster parents. When she graduated from high school, she received an award for logging more than 800 hours of volunteer service.

She was awarded a scholarship from Gardner-Webb, which made it possible for her to attend. She liked the University because of its size and Christian foundation. “Gardner-Webb is a place where you can be who you are and get a one-on-one connection with faculty and not feel like you are a number in the system,” Uriostegui asserted. “It’s somewhere you can fit in.”

Her major is international business and her minor is computer science. All of the professors in the Godbold School of Business have impacted her in some way and helped her understand difficult concepts.

Uriostegui goes home to Hendersonville, N.C., on the weekends to volunteer and work. In addition, she is a member of the GWU Enactus Club, a social entrepreneurship club that participates in Operation Christmas Child, which provides shoebox gifts to children around the world. For her Integrations of Business and Faith course, Uriostegui carried out a service-learning project that included volunteering at a women’s shelter. She tutored and read to the children, and arranged for the Key Club of Hendersonville to have clothing donations delivered to the shelter. At the end of the spring 2019 semester, Uriostegui won the Caudill Service-Learning Award for the shelter project and all of her volunteer service.

Her Gardner-Webb classes and the volunteer opportunities have prepared her
to reach her goal of starting an international non-profit foundation. “I want to provide
a place where homeless mothers and their children can live,” she said. “I have learned from each volunteer opportunity I have had.

I learn from the people I volunteer with and the people I help. They show me how to be patient and to never give up.”

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