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Empowered by Troubled Past, Alumna Inspires Grads of Tomorrow

Angelique Pereira and her family experienced a tumultuous year in 1991. She and her parents and three siblings left their native Pakistan bound for Houston. Events leading up to the family’s arrival in America were troublesome, and at the time, 12-year-old Pereira had no idea her difficult journey would inspire a future of helping others.

Angelique PereiraPereira grew up in the Catholic Communities of Karachi: her primary education started in Catholic schools. Due to political unrest, lack of education opportunities, drive-by shootings at colleges and an incident at their cemetery on All Souls Day, the Pereiras knew they were in grave danger and had no future in Pakistan. Her parents, who saved and sacrificed for years, decided to leave the country and the city they loved very much. Leaving behind close kin, they traveled to the Bayou City in 1991, joining her dad’s cousin who was already living in Houston.

Fortunately, Houstonians welcomed the newcomers, who soon began to feel comfortable, safe and ready to embrace the freedom of their new homeland.

Healing Past Hurts
Although Pereira moved to Houston as a young girl, it wasn’t until she became a student at the University of St. Thomas that she truly began to bridge her past with her future. One of three siblings who attended UST, she chose the University predominantly for its Catholic teachings and alignment with her life philosophies.

She majored in business administration and international studies while minoring in Latin American studies, and earned her bachelor’s in 2001. Pereira enjoyed her classes and relished the support she received from peers and professors, but she was truly moved by her theology and ethics courses, which reinforced her belief that all people deserve respect, regardless of religion or culture.

Despite the struggles her family faced with their faith during Pereira’s childhood, she began to gain a new self-awareness during her time at UST, and she was inspired to strive to be genuinely supportive of others at all levels of interaction.

Pereira values the relationships she established as a student at the University and remains engaged with her UST family, whom she views as “an ethically-charged group that motivate each other to raise the bar of morality and community outreach.”

“My colleagues stretch me, and I stretch them,” she said. “I give credit for that to UST.”

This ability to stretch and be her authentic self has helped Pereira reach far beyond her past and create a successful life and an even brighter future, while helping many others along the way.

“Throughout the mentorship program, Angelique helped me build a plan to set longterm professional and personal goals. Her success is a testament to the effectiveness of setting goals.” – Jud Webre ’18

A Passion for Mentorship
“I feel called by the Holy Spirit to better myself constantly,” she said, a calling that in 2013, inspired her to seek opportunities to “pay forward” the lessons learned at UST. Pereira began mentoring students—and discovered her new passion.

Her lucky mentees include UST graduate Jud Webre, MBA ’18, who graduated in May with a finance concentration, and her younger cousin Naomi Santamaria, who is preparing to enroll at UST next academic year. Pereira helps the students create 1- to 10-year plans, map out their goals and devise strategies to realize their dreams.

“Throughout the mentorship program, Angelique helped me build a plan to set longterm professional and personal goals. Her success is a testament to the effectiveness of setting goals,” Webre said. “She has also encouraged me to focus on self-development and networking. I will continue to hone these skills and lean on her for advice. She has given me advice and the tools necessary to grow and realize my full potential.”

Blessed by Career, Family and Friends
Pereira has carved out an impressive career. After graduating from UST, she was hired by Intertek, a multinational quality assurance firm. She began as a health and environmental services pro where she set up REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) compliance at Intertek offices in Europe and South America. She went on to become an operations manager for U.S. Health and Environmental Services, exceeding revenue and profit targets by 20 percent.

After Intertek, Pereira earned her MBA in 2015 at the University of Houston Bauer School of Business, leading to her current position as marketing analytics and planning manager at CITGO Petroleum. She has maintained a career in international business for 10 years, fulfilling the goals she set out to achieve years ago.

UST has equipped her with the skillset needed to collaborate cross-culturally and across generations. For instance, Pereira drew from what she learned in Dr. Linda Pett-Conklin’s Intercultural Issues class, while working for Intertek on projects in Brazil, Mexico, U.K., Sweden and Spain. It carries forward to her current position too.

“Armed with values of integrity and conviction, I’ve been able to exhibit leadership in all of my management roles at CITGO.”

Pereira is married to Mario Riusec, a native of Mexico City. They share a similar immigrant past and work ethic to build a strong future for their family. They have been married for eight years and live in the Heights area. They share much in common when it comes to appreciating international cuisine, speaking multiple languages and enjoying international travel. They are fortunate to have a cherished group of international friends who have enriched their perspectives through their experiences. Pereira attributes this connection to her international studies degree from UST.

Pereira strives to develop her mind, body and spirit so she can be the best version of herself. She is creating new experiences and sharing them with family and friends, traveling, listening to audio books and music, dancing and volunteering. She is a proud Vincentian in the conference of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, and she volunteers every other week, ministering to the poor of the parish.

As a career mentor for students interested in UST, Pereira plans to continue volunteering any way she can and supporting scholarships for students in need.

When it comes to offering advice to those daunted by their past or by perceived limitations, Pereira boldly says: “My background has shaped me to be who I am. The biggest blessing is I know I can do anything with the right intent and hard work. Don’t let tragedy define you—let it refine you!”

About the Author — UST Staff

AvatarThe UST staff strives to bring the most interesting, relevant and topical stories to our audience with each issue. These stories feature current UST students, alumni, professors, staff members and people we work with through our many partnerships. We hope you enjoy this glimpse of the UST community.

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