University of New Mexico student Jaen Ugalde recently won the 2013 Hispanic College Quiz TV game show coordinated by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). During the event, which was held in Chicago, Ugalde made UNM and New Mexico proud when he competed against and defeated two students from Texas schools—not an easy accomplishment.
“The people on the quiz show were some of the brightest and most intelligent students that I have ever met,” Ugalde ssid. “The two students I competed against were amazing and going against them was a challenge because they are super smart, outgoing and beautiful.”
Ugalde said that thanks to his advice coach, Jorge Garcia, senior program manager at El Centro de la Raza, he enjoyed being on the show even if he was a little nervous. “Jorge told me to focus and most importantly to have fun,” he said.
At one point in the show Ugalde’s question was to choose four U.S. cities from a list of ten that are considered “sanctuary cities," or cities that welcome the undocumented and immigrant population with food, housing and protection. Ugalde surprised himself when he could only name two. “As an undocumented immigrant student myself, I should have known the answers,” he said.
Ugalde was born in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was eight years old, and then to Albuquerque during his freshmen year of high school. “My parents moved to the United States in order to provide me and my three younger siblings with better educational opportunities,” he said.
Ugalde, who always pictured himself going to college, couldn’t have been more thrilled when he received his acceptance letter from UNM in 2006. “Receiving the letter from UNM made me really happy because I realized that my dream of going to college was becoming a reality,” he said. He is currently pursuing his MBA at Anderson School of Management.
Although Ugalde is the first in his family to graduate from a university, the rest of the family isn’t far behind. Two of his younger sisters are currently attending UNM and the youngest is in high school at Atrisco Heritage Academy. Even his mom is working on obtaining her high school diploma—the first step toward her higher educational goals. His father received his journeyman’s license and works as an electrician.
As the winner on the show, Ugalde was awarded a $3,000 scholarship that will help him pursue his career and educational goals to finish his MBA and from there, starting a gourmet taco and Mexican food business.
“I honestly don’t remember what question gave me the win. I was too excited and the two contestants beside me were also doing well,” he said. He couldn’t have participated in the show or won if it weren’t for his numerous mentors who encouraged him, he said. His list of thank yous includes everyone from his undocumented and documented brothers and sisters to the Vice President for Student Affairs Eliseo "Cheo" Torres, and many others.
The quiz show will be aired during Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, with specific dates and times announced soon.