La Feria News

UTRGV Welcomes #FirstClass Graduate Students at Orientation Events

by Cheryl Taylor and Jennifer L. Berghom

BROWNSVILLE & EDINBURG, TEXAS – AUG. 28, 2015 – Claudia Borrego, an English teacher at Brownsville’s Pace High School, and Edith Garcia, a math teacher at Brownsville’s Porter High School, saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up – to join a graduate cohort whereby The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Brownsville Independent School District each would cover a third of their graduate school tuition and fees.

Borrego and Garcia attended a graduate school orientation on the UTRGV Brownsville campus Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 26. The Edinburg campus graduate orientation followed on Thursday, Aug. 27.

“A pilot cohort just graduated. It was successful so another is being offered, and I wanted to take advantage of this situation,” said Borrego, who is starting her 12th year of teaching at Pace. “BISD has a goal of making dual enrollment available at all the high schools, and this means more teachers need to get their master’s degrees.”

More than 70 students filled Sabal Hall in Brownsville, and more than 200 students attended orientation at the Student Union Theater in Edinburg.

Orientation for more than 200 UTRGV graduate students was held Aug. 27 on the Edinburg Campus (shown here), and Aug. 26 on the Brownsville Campus for more than 70 students. Photo: Kristela Garza /UTRGV

Orientation for more than 200 UTRGV graduate students was held Aug. 27 on the Edinburg Campus (shown here), and Aug. 26 on the Brownsville Campus for more than 70 students. Photo: Kristela Garza /UTRGV

UTRGV President Guy Bailey spoke to the groups and shared some of his own grad school experiences.

“Focus on your learning. You’ll never learn more than you will now,” he said. “Graduate school will help you do what you dream and hope for. And my hope for you is, you will one day be able to do, see, and travel to what you never even knew about.”

Dr. Dave Jackson, interim dean of the Graduate College, welcomed the students. He told the group they are among the 936 new graduate students admitted to UTRGV – and the total number of graduate students enrolled is about 3,700. UTRGV offers 54 master, four doctoral, and two cooperative doctoral degrees.

Julian Salinas, who has been a physical education coach at Brownsville’s Castañeda Elementary School since graduating from The University of Texas at Brownsville in 2008, received two awards from BISD last year – Elementary Teacher of the Year and Coach of the Year.

 

“I had been debating about starting to work on my master’s, and I think receiving these awards served as encouragement to make this step,” said Salinas, who will pursue his Master of Education in Educational Leadership. “I have a lot of ideas and I feel somewhat limited as a P.E. coach. And although I love what I do, I don’t want to be just comfortable. I want to challenge myself.”

Graduate students Pedro Longoria and Deborah Ashley chose UTRGV to continue their studies because of the dedicated faculty in their respective programs.

More than 70 UTRGV students attended graduate orientation Aug. 26 on the Brownsville Campus, shown here. Graduate orientation on the Edinburg campus was Aug. 27, with more than 200 students attending. Photo: Ann Jacobo/UTRGV

More than 70 UTRGV students attended graduate orientation Aug. 26 on the Brownsville Campus, shown here. Graduate orientation on the Edinburg campus was Aug. 27, with more than 200 students attending. Photo: Ann Jacobo/UTRGV

Longoria, an Edinburg resident who graduated from The University of Texas-Pan American in May with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, decided to enroll at UTRGV because he was familiar with the high-quality mechanical engineering program and faculty the university has.

“They go way out of their way to help you,” said Longoria, who is pursuing a Master of Science in mechanical engineering with a specialty in materials science. “They’re always available … They’ll drop whatever it is they’re doing and help you with any questions you have.”

Longoria also would like to work for Raytheon after earning his master’s degree, he said, and a master’s degree will make him a more competitive job candidate.

Deborah Ashley, a native of Athens, Alabama, decided to pack up and move to the Valley to pursue a Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling after meeting Dr. Bruce Reed, chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation at UTRGV. She was working under a grant-funded program that trained rehabilitation counselors at Alabama A&M University, where she earned her master’s degree. Her mentor there was a colleague of Reed’s, and suggested she talk to him about the doctoral program in Texas.

Ashley, who participated in a student panel at the orientation, said she was impressed with UTRGV’s faculty and is excited to join a well-respected program, as well as a new university that will have a medical school.

“I feel that they take extra time to nurture and lead us so that we can go out into the world and make a difference,” she said of the rehabilitation faculty and staff.

Following the orientations, students were treated to a reception where they could talk with faculty members and university officials and get more information on a range of subjects, from financial aid to extracurricular activities.

For more information on graduate programs, call (956) 665-3662 or (956) 882-6552 or email gradcollege@utrgv.edu.

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