TikTok Influencer Estefania Saavedra Pays MDCOB a Visit During Week of Welcome
By Laura Wagner
2.8 million TikTok fans can’t be wrong.
There's something special about Estefania Saavedra (@estefisavvy), the content creator and comedian whose TikTok personas and Instagram presence have garnered her legions of fans. An undocumented immigrant from Ecuador and DACA recipient, she gained notoriety when she introduced her “manitos,” or Tiny Hands, to emphasize her storytelling and comedy. She's also a connoisseur of makeup techniques who shares her maquillage “art” on her social sites — content that led to partnerships with Clinique and Neutrogena.
Saavedra stopped by UHD on Monday, Jan. 17, to visit with students and alumni from the Marilyn Davies College of Business (MDCOB) during Week of Welcome. In a room of fewer than 30 people, Estefania shared her origin story, including her upbringing as an immigrant and her struggles with mental wellness while living in Houston during the pandemic. It was the latter, in fact, that led her to launch her TikTok site in 2020 (her tagline there reads, “Anxiety makes me funny”). She credits her counselor at the time for suggesting she pursue a passion project to manage her depression. Her TikTok base has since grown to 2.8 million followers; her Instagram fans number nearly 270,000.
During an intimate 45-minute session, students engaged Saavedra in a conversation, including questions and discussion about her career and life:
- A memorable moment in her career? “When I hit 2,000 followers, I told my mom: ‘I've made it.’ [laughs] But when someone stopped me in a store and recognized me even with my mask on, that was really cool.”
- How she deals with “dark days”? “I purposely share my vulnerable times. I want people to know it's okay not to be okay. I record myself having a breakdown, and people will make comments like, ‘You’re just trying to get attention.' But showing my vulnerability is actually the hardest thing to do. My hope is that someone who's hurting will see it, and they'll know they’re not alone. There are other people who feel the same way.”
- Her ultimate goal? “I have a vision board but there's no end goal, just ideas for my future. I have all these fears and every time I overcome a fear, like getting on a plane, that's a success for me. I celebrate that. That’s a goal."
- Advice for students who want to start their own social media careers? “Focus on something you love — you can’t create great content about things you aren't passionate about. And don't let anything stop you. Never give up. If you are doing what you love, just keep moving forward. You will see success."
The conversation ended with Assistant Dean Christine Poleski, J.D., presenting a UHD MDCOB certificate of appreciation to Saavedra, who then joined Ed-U-Gator in the College’s lobby for a photo shoot and meet-and-greet with students. “We were honored to have Tik Tok Social Media influencer Estefania Saavedrea with us to help normalize receiving services for mental health," said Poleski.
Saavedra stayed to join in the fun at the MDCOB Loteria Monday night. She shared her experiences on Instagram and TikTok, providing a window into UHD to her millions of followers.
“We appreciate Estefania sharing her experience as a successful social media entrepreneur who is doing what she loves and aligning it with financial success for herself and her family,” said Poleski. “She’s an inspiring example for our students of what you can achieve in spite of obstacles.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.