Profile

  • Route: Sierra
  • Ride Year: 2022
  • Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
  • School Year: Senior
  • Major: Sustainability Studies & Biology: Marine and Freshwater Sciences
  • Email: zaneortega@utexas.edu

About: Community Engagement Chair ???? & Mechanic for Sierras ????????

Hello there! My name is Zane, and I am a fourth-year Biology and Sustainability Studies major. I grew up next to the water in Corpus Christi, and I have always cared a lot about the natural world, as well as the life that populates it. I want to pursue environmental activism through wildlife conservation after I graduate, and through this, I hope to make the world a happier, healthier, and more equitable place for all who inhabit it.

In my free time, I love going on hikes, playing soccer with my friends, video games, volunteering, binging TikToks, and just doing general outdoorsy stuff around Austin, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, or wherever I happen to be. More recently, I've been spending my time doing research on squirrels and zooplankton, while also perfecting my Kermit the Frog and Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions, which I've been told are pretty decent and only a little annoying. A lot of my time outside of class is also spent with Texas 4000 and the UT Marine Science Club, as well as through volunteering with organizations such as Urban Roots, Austin Pets Alive, and the Amos Rehabilitation Keep for seabirds and sea turtles.

Why I Ride

When I decided to ride with Texas 4000, I was drawn in by the core idea of hope. It is clear to me how much negativity there is in this world, but for every bit of bad news, there are even more instances of people caring for each other and working to improve this planet. There are some days when it is harder to see the light, and on these days, I am so grateful for the people in my life that share hope with me through kind words and simple, compassionate actions. As I meet more people who have lost time, life, and loved ones in the fight against cancer, it has become much clearer to me how pervasive this issue is, and the need for hope becomes much more obvious. So many people in my life have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer, and every day, more people are diagnosed and enter this fight themselves. The fight against cancer may seem bleak at times, but I am riding to show people that there is always hope, even in the darkest situations. Every day, people beat the fight against cancer, new medicine and technologies are developed, and support systems are created and strengthened to aid those in this fight. By educating myself on these issues, listening to the stories of those affected by cancer, fundraising for resources in this fight, and participating in the summer ride to Alaska, I aim to become a leader in the community and a resource for those affected in the fight against cancer.

I am incredibly excited to be a part of this program, but I am also feeling nervousness, gratitude, humility, empowerment, and many other things about the journey ahead of me. I want to challenge myself and push myself out of my comfort zone, both physically with the ride itself, and emotionally, through the connections I hope to make throughout this program. I ride to recognize my own privilege as a healthy, able-bodied person and to use this privilege to support those who are struggling with their own health on a daily basis. I aim to use my strength to support those who have cancer and are undergoing treatments, as well as those who have other prevailing health conditions and chronic illnesses, such as my friend with Crohn's disease who struggles with her energy every day. I ride in memory of my grandfather, David, who died of liver cancer before I was born. I also ride in celebration of my nana, Toni, who has regained her head of beautiful, wispy, grey curls following her successful fight with cancer and in celebration of my late grandma, Mary, who successfully fought thyroid cancer during her lifetime. I ride to highlight the strength of people like my mother and my father, who have been indirectly affected by cancer through the loss of loved ones, yet remain the two strongest, most caring people I know. I ride for my friends and family who have all been affected by cancer in some way, and I ride for the people whose stories I have yet to hear.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear the stories of those affected and the opportunity to engage with and serve the community in the fight against cancer with Texas 4000. If you have been affected by cancer, I would love to hear your stories, dedicate my ride to you and your loved ones, and do whatever I can to help you in the fight against cancer. Please feel free to reach out to me at zaneortega@utexas.edu, as I would love to connect with you. I aim to use my time with Texas 4000 to spread hope, knowledge, and charity as far as I can, and with your support, we can help those in the fight against cancer and make the world a much brighter place.

To Alaska and Back,
Zane