For UNT student Mario Navarrete, life is all about new experiences and meeting new people. As a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology with a double minor in math and physics and pursing his master’s degree in biomedical engineering, Navarrete is on track for success after he graduates thanks to his steadfast determination and courage to conquer the unknown.

Born in El Salvador, Navarrete and his family moved to Houston when he was five. He was the first in his family to complete elementary school and high school. When it was time to select a college, UNT became the clear choice.

“I wanted to experience something different outside of Houston, and UNT was attractive academically and offered me great scholarships,” said Navarrete.

Navarrete started in criminal justice but decided to pursue engineering instead, having always done well in math and science.

“I thought, why limit myself?” he said. “I tried engineering and really liked it. Many students are afraid of engineering, but if you apply yourself, then you should be fine.”

Navarrete also discovered a passion for designing prosthetics, which he believes is innovation at its finest. His goal is to design prosthetics for and work with veterans, combining medical knowledge with technical expertise.

“A lot of engineers design for themselves, but I want to design for others,” he noted.

For Navarrete, the social aspects of college have been as important as his academic pursuits. He became involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) as a freshman, which allowed him to meet new people from diverse backgrounds. He went on to be a resident assistant and an Eagle Ambassador tour guide, participated in the Alternative Service Breaks program and came back to SGA as a freshman mentor. He also served as president of the Professional Leadership Program (PLP) and president of NT40, two roles he took very seriously and through which he made positive changes.

“For PLP and NT40, I wanted members to develop and apply the skills they will need after college rather than just add the organizations to their resumes,” he said.

When asked what advice he would give to incoming students, Navarrete said, “Get involved with what you genuinely want to be involved with. We are all here for school first, but you get to meet so many new people through student organizations, and the people I have met here have become my family.”

After graduation, Navarrete plans to make another move and start his career in Philadelphia, which he feels has a good urban environment and downtown city culture. He is currently there doing a six-month research internship with Philadelphia Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc.

“I want to rejuvenate myself in another new environment, meeting new people and exploring a new place,” he said.

But wherever he goes, Navarrete will never forget his experience at UNT.

“I really like the culture in Denton and at UNT, and I have enjoyed working with the administration, my peers and my friends,” he said. “People here are loving and nurturing, and that’s what I will take with me.”

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Contact: Ray Willhoft, 940-565-2464,