Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UTRGV honors veterans in Brownsville, Edinburg campus ceremonies

By Jennifer Berghom and Vicky Brito

BROWNSVILLE & EDINBURG, TEXAS – NOV. 11, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley honored veterans with two simultaneous ceremonies on its Brownsville and Edinburg campuses on Wednesday.

Students, faculty, staff and veterans gathered at the Chapel Lawn on the Edinburg Campus and on the Main Lawn of the Brownsville campus.
The events were sponsored by the ROTC, Student Involvement, Student Veterans of America (SVA), Veterans Services and Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), a federally funded program to prepare and assist eligible veterans to access and pursue higher education.
“It’s a great honor to honor our veterans, and we have a number of our veterans here from World War II, the Korean War, and from all of our conflicts since that time. Thank you so much for being here,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said at the Brownsville ceremony.
He pointed out that the ceremony began at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, to commemorate the date and time of the ending of World War I in 1918.
“We should always remember that we’re here because they were there, and it’s very important,” Bailey said. “We can't honor them enough.” 
UTRGV Vice President for Student Success Dr. Kristin Croyle, who spoke at the Edinburg ceremony, expressed her appreciation for veterans and praised UTRGV’s student veterans for the contributions they make to the campus community.
“When they come to campus, our student veterans make campus a better and richer place for all of us,” she said. “They bring a level of discipline and dedication to their work here that is an inspiration to our students and to our faculty and our staff. They support each other and support other students, and advocate for what they know is right, and the right way that we should treat our students.”
Eloisa Tamez, a U.S. Army veteran, UTRGV professor of nursing and keynote speaker at the Brownsville event, said the nation’s veterans symbolize the freedom we enjoy. Tamez, whose father was a veteran, served as a nurse for 27 years when she joined the nursing service workforce.
“It is my belief that we nurses are the best patient advocates and must take this role seriously, so our veterans receive optimal healthcare, always,” she said. “This has always been my commitment to our veterans, and I assure that all personnel in my work of service knew that and practiced it.”
Those at the Edinburg event heard from guest speakers, Capt. David Weiss of the U.S. Army National Guard, and former U.S. Army Sgt. Lynette Linn, who talked about their experiences in the military and about the importance of taking time out to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
“When you live your lives, make sure it’s a testament to those who are no longer able to live theirs,” Weiss said.
Both campus ceremonies had the presentation of colors and a 21-gun salute. At the Brownsville ceremony, three cannon salutes honored those currently serving in the military, those who served in the past and those who died while serving.
Students said they appreciated that UTRGV was honoring veterans and that the university is providing services for student veterans and their loved ones.
Patrick Roberts, UTRGV’s chapter president of the SVA, served eight and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He said it is important for student veterans to have resources available to them, to help them adjust from military to college life.
“There’s a huge transition phase that many veterans go through, getting out of the military. And having a department like the Veterans Services Center and an organization like the Student Veterans of America chapter here at UTRGV and at other campuses across America, helps bridge that gap,” he said. “It helps that transition process. It gives veterans a place to go to, other veterans to talk to and feel welcome, to feel like they can be themselves until they get used to being around everyone else.”
Quentin Cammack, a U.S. Navy veteran who earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from UTRGV legacy institution UT Brownsville, said Veteran’s Upward Bound helped him with a variety of needs when he was a student, like helping him enroll in classes and submitting paperwork for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

“I don't normally look back at people that helped me, but I appreciate them helping me,” an emotional Cammack said. “Looking back at me attaining a bachelor’s degree was a very important thing. My mom and dad never finished college and, for me, it was a big feat to prove that I can do it, and to also help show my daughter that she can do this, too. Just put your mind to it and focus hard, and one day you can attain your goals.”

In honor of those who have taken a term of military service, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Student...

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

UTRGV seeks community’s votes to win Tree Campus USA Service Learning Project Award


By Karen Perez
EDINBURG, TEXAS – NOV. 4, 2015 – The Office for Sustainability at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is looking at the possibility of bringing its award-winning tree care practices to the community.

UTRGV is one of three universities selected as a finalist in the Tree Campus USA Service Learning Contest by an internal judging committee from the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation and education organization.
Voting to select the winning campus begins Nov. 9 and ends Nov. 13. The public is encouraged to vote once a day by visiting

The winning school will receive $10,000 and Tree Campus USA swag to create a service learning project that engages its students in a tree planting or maintenance project in a low- to moderate-income area of the community.
The other contenders in the large-school category are the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The contest follows the UTRGV Edinburg Campus’s recent designation from the Arbor Day Foundation as a 2014 Tree Campus USA university for meeting five core standards of tree care and community engagement – including creation of a campus tree-care plan and a service-learning project.

Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by Toyota.

If awarded, the Office for Sustainability will provide each resident of the Lynchburg Neighborhood of Edcouch with a tree, a tree care kit, and bilingual training at a workshop to foster a beautiful, livable community. An additional three trees will be planted inside the upcoming community center area, which includes a playground.

The project would be a collaborative effort with Proyecto Azteca, a local, nonprofit, self-help housing program. Proyecto Azteca placed 32 families from the colonias and housing authorities into energy-efficient, affordable homes they helped build in 34 lots purchased in the Lynchburg Subdivision. The subdivision is the first silver LEED-certified neighborhood in South Texas. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.

The service learning project would provide students with hands-on learning on environmental issues, maintaining tree health, and working with diverse community values, said Marianella Franklin, UTRGV’s chief sustainability officer. Additionally the trees would add energy efficiency, aesthetic appeal, and increase the economic value of the houses in the neighborhood.

“This community service project is intended to help us all come together, and what greater way to come together than to plant trees,” Franklin said. “Trees exemplify unity, and that’s what we’re trying to create here – that collaborative unity of one region, which is the Rio Grande Valley, extending a hand to help each other.”

The winner will be announced the week of Nov. 16. Vote for UTRGV Nov. 9-13 by visiting

For more information on UTRGV’s Office for Sustainability like its Facebook page.