Linell Abrego ’24 named Outstanding Islander Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Achieving excellence both inside and outside the classroom is at the heart of being an Outstanding Islander Graduate. Each semester, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi selects a group of exceptional graduating Islanders — one from each academic college — who have made a lasting Islander Impact. These students are not only high academic achievers but have often overcome major adversity to reach the graduation stage.

This year’s seven Outstanding Islander Graduates will earn their diplomas at the Spring 2024 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Their journey to this moment — fueled by determination, perseverance, and grit — highlights their unwavering commitment to finishing what they have started.

Please join us in celebrating Linell Abrego ’24, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the College of Liberal Arts.

Stepping onto a college campus for the first time can be overwhelming, particularly for a student who carries the weight of their family’s hopes and dreams on their shoulders. Abrego, from the small town of San Benito in the Rio Grande Valley, took that first step back in fall 2020.

“Being a Hispanic first-generation student, the value of pursuing higher education wasn’t just a personal goal but a collective dream shared by my family,” Abrego said. “Their unwavering support motivated me to chase my dreams.”

Abrego said she selected the Island University for two main reasons — it was within driving distance to her family and it has a renowned psychology program.

“I am fascinated by the intersection of psychology and health care, particularly in how psychological principles can be applied to enhance the well-being and functional abilities of patients,” Abrego said. “My ultimate goal is to be an occupational therapist.”

As she prepares to graduate with a psychology degree, Abrego credits her expert faculty for building the base for her future career.

“This knowledge will undoubtedly serve as a solid foundation for my future practice as an occupational therapist,” Abrego said. “Whether it’s in a hospital, rehabilitation center, school, or community-based organization, I aspire to use what I learned at TAMU-CC to tailor interventions that promote independence, participation, and overall quality of life for individuals facing various challenges.”

She also credits her extracurricular activities with helping her blossom as a mentor and volunteer. Her resume includes stints as an Anchor Camp leader, a member of Young Life, and a volunteer for the Big Event.

“At Anchor Camp, I helped guide incoming first-year students as they transitioned to college life, which strengthened my leadership skills,” Abrego noted. “And as a volunteer for the BIG Event, a student-led service project, I made a tangible difference in the lives of the community members who support this university.”

Though her plate was full, there was still another, necessary responsibility Abrego had to manage.

“Coming from a family with limited financial resources, working a part-time job was not just a choice for me, but a necessity,” Abrego admitted. “There were times when I felt overwhelmed and struggled to balance my job and schoolwork.”

She found some of that balance thanks to campus resources specifically designed to help first-generation students, like the TRIO/SSS-STEM Program. It not only helped her apply for financial aid, significantly alleviating her financial burden, but also provided tutoring, academic coaching, and mentoring.

“Julia Norrell, with the university’s TRIO/SSS-STEM Program, played a pivotal role in my journey,” Abrego said. “Her mentorship went beyond just providing me with practical resources like scholarships, workshops, and meetings; she also served as a source of inspiration and encouragement. Her unwavering support bolstered my confidence and motivated me to strive for excellence. One of the most significant ways Julia helped me was by offering personalized guidance and advice tailored to my unique circumstances. Moreover, Julia was a trusted ally who advocated on my behalf and connected me with additional support services and resources.”

As the weight of being a first-generation college student washes away, Abrego can now look back on all she has accomplished — from that first step on campus to her proudly walking the commencement stage.

“Since my first day as an Islander, I have undergone significant personal growth thanks to the invaluable experiences I’ve encountered here,” she said. “I have emerged a stronger and more resilient individual, equipped with the skills and experiences necessary to achieve my goals.”