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Universal Technical Institute Houston Incoming Students Awarded IGNITE Worldwide STEM Grants for Women
Two Houston Area Students Among Winners Across the U.S.

HOUSTON, September 6, 2022 –Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (NYSE: UTI) teamed up with IGNITE Worldwide to provide tuition grants for female and female-identifying students interested in pursuing a technical education at UTI and careers in STEM-related fields. IGNITE Worldwide & UTI made $100,000 in scholarships available. Two recent high school graduates each received $2,000 to use toward their education at UTI-Houston. Students who applied for the grant had to complete an application, including an essay-based component. Anael Valdez Acevedo from Fresno placed ninth among the winners, and Gracie Hadash from Bay City placed 20th.

Valdez Acevedo graduated from Hightower High School in Missouri City in May 2022. A self-described shy person, Valdez Acevedo overcame her fears and cultivated her interest in STEM when she participated in a robotics fashion contest where you build a Lego robot, drive it down the runway, and then put a costume on it. With the help and encouragement of other robotics teammates and teachers, Valdez Acevedo came in second. She became more self-confident and started to explore other activities. In her essay, Valdez Acevedo stated what advice she would give to her younger self: “Little me if you are listening … take the chances no matter what your brain is telling are smart enough, creative enough, and sociable enough… trust me…you are worth it…take the open door of opportunity.” Valdez Acevedo is enrolled in UTI’s Collision Repair & Refinish Technology program. She began the program in August 2022.

Hadash graduated from Tidehaven High School in Elmaton in May 2022. In her essay, Hadash noted she suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks growing up. As she learned techniques to minimize the anxiety, she built up the courage to try out for theater, something that interested her. As she acted in plays, she felt free and learned to feel comfortable performing in front of large crowds. Hadash found performing “uplifting and empowering” and realized it was the “path to move forward in her life.” “I realized that there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s changed my entire outlook on life and has created a life where I feel like I can accomplish anything…no one can ever take that from me,” commented Hadash. She is enrolled in UTI’s Welding Technology program and will begin in September.

“Currently, women represent just over 1 in 4 STEM workers[1] in the U.S. Research by both McKinsey and Harvard Business School has found gender-diverse employers tend to be more productive and exhibit stronger financial performance relative to their non-diverse competitors. Workforce demand in the transportation sector remains strong nationally, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics[2] estimating there are approximately 112,000 total new openings each year for automotive, diesel, and collision repair technicians nationally, including net employment changes and net replacements,” noted Darrin Brust, UTI-Houston campus president. “Partnering with Ignite Worldwide and providing scholarship opportunities for women considering these careers, helps us in our effort to diversify the workforce and increase recruitment of women into the skilled trades.”

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About Universal Technical Institute, Inc.
Founded in 1965 and headquartered in Phoenix, Universal Technical Institute's (NYSE: UTI) mission is to serve our students, partners, and communities by providing quality education and support services for in-demand careers. Approximately 250,000 students have graduated from one of UTI's 16 campuses located across Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas. UTI's campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), while its employer-aligned technical training programs are offered under four brands: Universal Technical Institute, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute / Marine Mechanics Institute, NASCAR Technical Institute, and MIAT College of Technology. For more information and a complete list of all programs offered, please visit or follow on LinkedIn @UniversalTechnicalInstitute and on Twitter @news_UTI.

About IGNITE Worldwide

The IGNITE Worldwide Program works to directly address the gender and racial disparity experienced in STEM fields. By reaching the students at a young age, during the school day, we are able to encourage participating students to explore non-traditional STEM opportunities at their school, after graduation, and beyond.

IGNITE Worldwide provides a sustainable, scalable, and effective program that works with teachers and other educators to reach students during the school day. The overwhelming success and increased demand of our virtual programming this past year has encouraged us to increase our Program, by expanding into rural and underserved communities throughout Washington that previously faced barriers due to location and access. The upcoming 2021-2022 school year will now include more program offerings, including not just our standard in-person events but also virtual and hybrid opportunities. By working even more closely with our educators, volunteers, and sponsors we were able to provide engaging and successful events to rural communities. Currently the IGNITE Worldwide Program primarily serves Washington State and California.

For more information, visit Like IGNITE Worldwide on or follow IGNITE Worldwide on Twitter @IGNITEWorldwide.




[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the national average annual job openings in each of the following occupations between 2020 and 2030 will be: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 69,000; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,100; Automotive Body and Related Repairs, 15,000; Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. UTI is an education institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.


For further information: Alanna Vitucci,, 480-710-6843