Alumni Interview with Marta Izarra De Luna
At the University of Texas at Austin, international students make up only 9% of the student population (utexas.edu). However, students like Marta Izarra De Luna, who received her master's from the Stan Richards School of Advertising in May of 2021 and still lives in Austin today, does not know where she would be without UT.
Growing up in Madrid, Spain, De Luna had no idea that UT existed. While studying abroad during her undergrad in London, De Luna befriended someone from Texas and decided to visit Austin that summer. She simply “fell in love.”
De Luna admits she always wanted to come to the United States and live out the American college experience. When she considered giving UT a chance, she said could see herself living in Austin more than anywhere else. “Life brought me here,” she likes to say. Once she toured the Stan Richards School of Advertising, however, it was a done deal. “How could you turn down the best advertising school in the country?” she said.
In De Luna’s second semester on the 40 acres, the pandemic hit, resulting in her taking the remaining semesters online. However, this did not stop her from taking advantage of the program she traveled across the globe for. “School was unique and stimulating, even on zoom. Teachers encourage debate and sharing ideas, everything was collaborative,” said De Luna.
Her favorite part about the master's program is the hands-on approach. Students learn about recent theories and studies within the industry while still getting to practice these applications almost every week through assignments.
When it came time to graduate, unlike most of her peers, De Luna said did not have a worry in the world. She said she was always very close with her professors, and in doing so, she was often exposed to experienced people within her industry.
One of her favorite professors, James Wakefield of Digital Analytics, taught her how to turn data into strategy. This, in return, helped De Luna find her dream job. She said that his approach to teaching was different, inspiring her to consider data analytics for her career.
Wakefield, originally a UT international student from London, now lectures at the university in addition to pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams. Legend Labs, founded by Wakefield and partners in 2016, is a digital consulting company right here in Austin. He often brings Legend Labs into the classroom to give students real-life experiences. De Luna said she and her classmates would help him with daily tasks related to what they were learning about.
De Luna said after feeling such a connection to her professor and Legend Labs, she applied for an internship there that year. Not only was she granted this position, but she received a return offer after graduation, where she still works now.
This is exactly the advice she would give to incoming freshmen: “You never know who is sitting next to you, or even who will end up teaching your class, so make the best out of your relationships and make a great network out of it.”
De Luna has worked with Legend Labs for a year and a half and could not be happier. She said that, more than anything, working at a small company allows her to learn new things every day. Wearing many hats, she “only sees the potential for growth.”
Despite having lived in three different countries across the globe, De Luna still longs for the energy of UT. “Every time I come back to campus to speak at a class, you can feel the creativity and the student energy of just wanting to learn and collaborate,” said De Luna, “I know it’s something you can't find anywhere else.”