The Daily Texan highlights influential UT alumnae in creative fields

Melani Alanis, General Life&Arts Reporter

Working for advertising agencies, holding leadership positions and creating change in the nonprofit world are just a few of many achievements of UT’s women graduates. In honor of Women’s History Month, The Daily Texan honors four influential female alum in creative fields.

Kelsey Patterson

After Kelsey Patterson worked with the Southwest Conference for nine months while it slowly transitioned into the Big 12, the 1990 communications graduate took a job with Texas Athletics to raise money to build the north and south zones of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. However, she started her journey with nonprofits after eventually returning home to Fort Worth to work as marketing director for the Fort Worth Zoo.

Patterson now runs The Big Good, a nonprofit that allocates funds for school grants, in partnership with her husband and former Longhorn football special assistant coach Gary Patterson and musician Leon Bridges.

For the past 20 years, the organization known as The Gary Patterson Foundation, hosted an annual fundraising event to advocate for education and family issues. The nonprofit yielded over $250,000 in grants for Fort Worth elementary school libraries at their last two events before COVID-19. At last year’s fundraiser, The Big Good raised over $1 million.

“Show up early, stay late,” Patterson said. ”Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. That’s what really helps you grow as a person and in your career.”

Sabia Siddiqi

After receiving an advertising degree from UT in 1990, Sabia Siddiqi moved to New York and worked for various advertising agencies for five years. In 2004, she returned to Austin to work for the advertising agency GSD&M. Now, Siddiqi serves as the company’s vice president and group account director, where she advertises for clients such as Pizza Hut, Walmart and Chili’s.

“Stay curious (and) keep asking questions,” Siddiqi said. “Stay in touch with any contacts that you’re given because those pay off in the end with friendships and work opportunities.”

Mariel Calara

Mariel Calara participated in the inaugural UTNY program, where she interned at Sony and McCann Health. Through these internships, the 2021 communication and leadership alumna built connections that introduced her to her current job — brand strategy at the New York advertising agency Droga5. Through the agency, she currently works as a brand strategist for Meta, conducting multiple research projects for the company.

As a strategist for Meta, formerly known as Facebook, she said she aims to use social media platforms like TikTok to modernize the brand.

“I went to Washington Square Park and was asking Gen Z people how they felt about Meta and how to use Instagram,” Calara said. “It was a TikTok. It’s been really cool.”

Chitra Thankaswamy

Moving away from Chennai, India, for the first time, Chitra Thankaswamy arrived in Austin with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. She graduated from UT with a master’s in advertising in 2002. Five years later, she secured a role in consumer insights and brand strategy at Dell Technologies.

Since 2020, Thankaswamy has served as Dell’s senior vice president of North America field marketing.

“I haven’t had the Monday morning blues in at least a decade. That speaks to having found work I’m excited about and people I’m excited about working with,” Thankaswamy said. “Looking for both is what leads to a healthy, happy life.”