Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Meet Edgar Ibarra Gutierrez ‘25

Dean's Scholarship Recipient

Where are you from and what is your background?
I'm a formerly incarcerated Chicano indigenous man of Tarahumara and Yoeme descent. My short life has been nothing, if not eventful. I watched my mom struggle to get my brother, sisters, and me ahead. We learned and understood what it meant to be poor, see addiction in my relatives' faces, witness senseless community violence, and be ashamed of my father’s incarceration.

Why did you apply for this graduate program and decide to study at USF?
During my gap year, I had set out to look for a communications graduate program and spoke to a mentor who had attended USF as a graduate student. She shared the efforts made by the university to foster an environment grounded in values of service and social justice, which I strive to live up to. I met Donna Uchida, who walked me through the specifics and connected me to alumni who shared their experience in the MA in Professional Communication program. I was convinced that USF would support my goal of developing an organization that could support small businesses and nonprofits in rural areas while bringing a level of communication expertise and rigor that my community deserves.

What impacts has the Dean's Scholarship had on your ability to further your studies?
Receiving the Dean’s Scholarship provided ample financial breathing room, and the ability to save and prepare adequately for my second year of school. Most importantly, it has allowed me to start my graduate studies stress-free with the opportunity to enjoy the learning experience and relationship-building that will happen during my time at USF.

What are your career ambitions?
I’ve had the privilege to work in my community alongside young people impacted by the juvenile justice system and men returning from incarceration. Each relationship has shown me the power of stories and how they can encourage self and community transformation. My experiences have pushed me to dream of establishing a community-based public relations organization that focuses on providing professional communication strategy, brand development, and digital content creation to small businesses and nonprofits, so that they can communicate their mission and vision to the community and their stakeholders.

What is something unique or interesting about you?
I take great pride in learning about my cultural indigenous traditions — from learning the Yoeme language, stories, and songs, to playing traditional instruments. Most importantly, by living by the values that my ancestors have passed down.


The Dean’s Scholarship recognizes a select group of incoming students in graduate programs, who the admission committees believe will make a substantial contribution to the programs. Recipients are selected based on merit. To be considered for the Dean's Scholarship, students must apply to their program by the program's priority deadline.

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