Alberto Rodriguez ’15 changes direction and expands his sense of home.

Photo by Drew Anthony Smith

After graduating with a degree in civil engineering, I moved to Detroit to work at General Motors. It was my first time being away from Texas — I grew up in Laredo — and my first time living by myself. This was an education. I learned a lot — what drives my fears and how to persevere, but also what makes me happy. Ultimately, I stayed in Detroit for 3 1/2 years and had a fantastic experience being part of the transformation of a city. But Texas always had my heart. 

Having heard about the tech boom in Austin, I started looking at opportunities here. Eventually, I found a fantastic position at Oracle, where I now work as a solutions engineer. I knew it was going to be a culture shock coming from a legacy corporation to the tech world, but I was excited to be a part of a booming city with an active Latino community. I’m enjoying the fusion of cultures that “keep Austin weird.”

A typical question everyone asks here is, “Where are you from?” It’s a rare instance to meet a native Austin resident. As a minority at Oracle, I strongly advocate for diversity and inclusion and help to facilitate a better understanding of the communities in which the company resides. 

Living in East Austin, I have so much to enjoy — nature, city vibes and an employer that encourages a work-life balance. I can hop on a scooter and go to Gabriela’s Downtown, one of my favorite restaurants. Or I can bike to my office or grab a paddleboard just a few steps outside my apartment near Lady Bird Lake. In many ways, Austin is a traditional city full of Southern hospitality, yet it’s also open-minded and modern. It also feels like a border town dream. From Hispanic restaurants to salsa dancing nights and midnight taco runs, there is a vital Latino presence in the city. I love celebrating my heritage through mariachi, just like I did at Rice with Mariachi Luna Llena.

Looking back, Rice was a place where I first truly learned about community, diversity and the beauty of pursuing a common goal. Everyone at Rice was on a unique journey, but we were all passionate about education and making an impact on the world. There were countless things I loved about my time at Rice, and the more time I spend in Austin, the more I fall in love with this place too.