Meet UNT Science Alumnus Matthew Mendoza | College of Science

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January 11, 2021

Meet UNT Science Alumnus Matthew Mendoza

University of North Texas alumnus Matthew Mendoz received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry in May 2014. He recently completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and was featured in a video created by the UNT Career Center highlighting his success story and sharing his advice for future UNT science scholars. Like many students, Matthew began college not knowing exactly where his career aspirations would lead. His vague idea to pursue medical school led him to discover academic research in biology and chemistry, and soon he knew that a future in research science was for him. Now that he has finished his PhD, Matthew hopes to use his education to develop drugs and assist with other therapeutic advancements in the pharmaceutical industry. His achievements since his time at UNT include becoming a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellow, co-founding the UT Southwestern SACNAS Chapter, and serving as a Chair of the UT System Student Advisory Council.

Below you can read an excerpt from Matthew's interview with the UNT Career Center. To watch the full video interview with Matthew, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZQitEJquT8&feature=emb_logo

How did your program at UNT help you to feel prepared for this role?

Neuroscience as a field is extremely interdisciplinary. Therefore, I constantly have to pull knowledge from a multitude of different fields like chemistry, physics, and genetics. I even have to pull knowledge from fields outside of science like marketing, communication, and philosophy. My program at UNT gave me a broad perspective, which has undoubtedly aided in my development as a scientist. I've published neuroscience research articles, lead a student-based non-profit STEM organization, written educational policies for the UT System, and given countless presentations. My program and participation in UNT clubs and organizations have had a profound impact on my current success. UNT legitimately changed my life, and I anticipate that it will continue to influence the future.

What advice do you have for prospective or current students as they decide what they want their next steps to be (internships/careers/etc.)?

I feel like I have a ton of advice! First, I would recommend students determine what they want out of life as opposed to what their parents or society tells them should do. From there, I believe students, and people in general should align their career search/exploration with their top 3-5 values. Of course, this would require students to identify their values first. Once their values are identified and clearly articulated, then I recommend finding career paths that align with the student's true self. Lastly, I would also tell students that values change over their lifetime. Therefore, students should welcome changing values and in turn welcome changes in their career.

What was the toughest interview question they asked you?

The toughest questions were: 1) why do I want a Ph.D. and 2) why should we choose you to be a part of our Ph.D. program? I was definitely asked more science-specific questions, but I'm not sure if those would be too esoteric. I recently interviewed for another position for Bristol Myers Squibb, so I can include some of those questions as well.

How did the Career Center help you?

The UNT Career Center helped me tremendously throughout college. I actually worked at the Career Center from 2012 to 2014 as a Career Peer Advisor. Through that position, I had to give a ton of presentations, which helped me overcome my fear of public speaking. I now give over well over 10 presentations per semester in various capacities (e.g research, STEM non-profit, teaching, and some educational policy). Additionally, the UNT Career Center taught me valuable skills in career exploration, application material preparation, and interview skills. I often use these skills today for my own career search.

Not sure where your path is leading you? Set up an appointment (virtual or in-person) with one of our friendly academic advisors today at https://cos.unt.edu/advising.