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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State students discover community as influencers

Rosie Mendoza
Interior design junior Stephanie Valdez records herself in front of the Alkek Staircase, Friday, April 19, 2024, at Texas State University.

TikTok is taking over as the new frontier for Generation Z creators, blending careers with creative hobbies. From sharing life advice to connecting with large audiences, some Texas State students are diving headfirst into TikTok fame, building their followings and making waves in the virtual world.

Stephanie Valdez

Interior design junior Stephanie Valdez poses for her headshot, Friday, April 19, 2024, at Texas State. (Rosey Mendoza)

Stephanie Valdez, interior design junior and TikTok influencer, said when she started making videos about campus life, it helped her feel more connected with the community at Texas State.

“It’s crazy now,” Valdez said. “I will walk to class and people will come up to me and ask if I’m Stephanie and it’s crazy to see how much you can impact people’s lives.”

Valdez specializes in content revolving around Texas State events, vlogging and fashion.

“I know people that came to Texas State because they saw my videos, and I’ve had several people say they chose the apartment complex I live at because they saw how cool my videos looked about my complex,” Valdez said. “That’s where I really find joy in making these content-creating videos.”

Making TikToks about campus events and her student lifestyle has not only allowed Valdez to feel more connected with her peers but is what first made her gain more followers and furthered her engagement on the platform. Valdez said she is well-known on campus and enjoys making content her peers and colleagues enjoy.

Danae Velasquez

Texas State alumni Danae Velasquez poses for her headshot, Monday, April 15, 2024, at Texas State.

Danae Velasquez, alumna and TikTok influencer, said being an influencer helped her destress from the crazy schedule she had as a student.

“Now and then, I would allow myself to have a break and focus on something else besides school,” Velasquez said. “It was all very liberating; posting on TikTok at the same time [as attending classes]. Even though it was fun creating videos, it was also fun seeing how far it would go and how far I would reach people.”

Sharing day-to-day life content on TikTok and gaining more followers allowed Velasquez to meet new people and post relatable videos to reach students and young adults.

“I feel [TikTok] provides a little safe area, and I actually made friends from posting my videos,” Velasquez said. “It kind of helped me expand my social group and get to know more people. I got to hear what other people were thinking and how they felt about certain things which allowed me to post stuff I knew people would relate to.”

Ellie Lerma

Texas State graduate student Elliana Lerma poses for her headshot, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at Texas State. (Katherine Rea)

Ellie Lerma, a graduate student with a full-time paying career as a TikTok influencer, said she uses her platform to show her transformation from a party lifestyle to her solitary journey of healthy living and food content.

“I’m obsessed with cooking, fitness, lifestyle and communicating with others the message that anyone, no matter the circumstance, can improve their life and turn it around to live a life they’re proud of,” Lerma said.

Social media opened opportunities for Lerma, who averages three videos a day as a full-time content creator with over 168,000 followers. However, her favorite part of content creation isn’t the brand deals or her following but being able to practice her storytelling skills and connect with her audience on a personal level.

“I’m a storyteller at heart,” Lerma said. “It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a video or having a conversation. My favorite part is connecting with all of the people around the world I wouldn’t have an opportunity to connect with if it wasn’t for having this platform and being vulnerable and sharing my life.”

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