Ernesto Villarreal Profile Photo

Ernesto Villarreal

College 1st Executive Director

rnesto is focused on developing and implementing college and career success initiatives that significantly make a difference in the lives of students and their families.

Ernesto and his two younger brothers grew up working in their parents’ produce business. Sometimes this endeavor involved working at the agricultural fields. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Texas- Pan American (UTPA), today known as The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). In 2004, Ernesto earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Marketing from UTPA, with international business coursework from La Universidad de Salamanca in Spain.

After graduation, he joined the UTPA’s Corporate and Foundation Relations Team as a Marketing Coordinator for the nationally renowned Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology Program (HESTEC). In this capacity, he also served as an advisor to the Kenedy Memorial Foundation CEO and Board Members, and coordinated the Ford Motor Company Fund's Partnership in Advanced Studies (PAS) across 26 Rio Grande Valley School Districts.
In 2007, Ernesto completed a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from UTPA. This opened the opportunity to work as Executive Director for a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s regional grassroots outreach initiative on college readiness across the Rio Grande Valley.

In 2013, Ernesto founded the College 1st Program in partnership with several school districts. The College 1st Program is focused on implementing career exploration sessions with academic enrichment hands-on activities and mentorship experiences for students and parents. The College 1st Team has worked with over 50,000 students and 35,000 families across the State of Texas.

Ernesto is highly involved in different community-based organizations with initiatives that focus on college and career success for students, including Ford Next Generation Learning, the UT Austin Admissions Advisory Board and the RGV Focus Leadership Council.

Ernesto enjoys spending time with family, playing sports and loves history.

Sept. 27, 2022

Episode 144: College 1st Program! Career Exploration

Ernesto is focused on developing and implementing college and career success initiatives that significantly make a difference in …

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