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Video of Celebracion Event

Donors Celebrate Endowment Scholarships and Enjoy a Festive Evening of Surprises

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 28, 2014 – Several hundred supporters of The University of Texas at Brownsville gathered for a festive alfresco dinner celebration in the Courtyard of Main on Tuesday, May 27.

Seated at brightly decorated tables under lights crisscrossing the terrace, the guests convened to honor Dr. Juliet V. García, UT Brownsville President, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. and the UT Board of Regents – all staunch promoters of UT Brownsville and higher education in the Lower Rio Grande Valley – and all instrumental contributors to the creation of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The event marked the efforts of UTB supporters to raise scholarship funds toward the UTRGV Founders Scholarship Endowment, existing endowments and the newly established Juliet V. García Endowment launched by UTB faculty and staff.

Surprising all, Cigarroa announced the creation of the University of Texas Institute of the Americas to be led by García, who is in her 22nd year as President of UT Brownsville.

UT Regent Ernest Aliseda, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Vice Chairman Gene Powell applaud Dr. Juliet Garcia after the announcement that she will help develop and lead the new University of Texas Institute of the Americas.UT Regent Ernest Aliseda, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Vice Chairman Gene Powell applaud Dr. Juliet Garcia after the announcement that she will help develop and lead the new University of Texas Institute of the Americas.
 

“Because of the incredible role that Texas is playing as a national leader in bi-cultural and bi-national studies, we need a person with exceptional leadership skills and a record of advanced achievements in higher education to help us create a presence centered in this region of our state,” Cigarroa announced.

García will continue to serve as president of UT Brownsville until Aug. 31, 2014. She will then begin a year of planning and developing the new institute, which will be located in the Rio Grande Valley; she will report to the UT System’s Office of Academic Affairs.

“The chance to lead this incredible new institute that focuses on an area so important to me – both personally and professionally – is truly an honor,” García said. “The UT Institute of the Americas is unlike anything that currently exists, and I am so eager to get to work developing our nation’s next great leadership institute.”

Among the dinner guests, students Samantha Gomez, Erendira Santillana, Stephanie Mendez and Gabriela Contreras had the honor of being seated at the table of Dr. Guy Bailey, UTRGV President.

“This was really a surprise announcement; we knew Dr. García would be leaving, but didn’t know it would be so soon,” Gomez said. “I am so proud of her and all that she has done at UTB, and I know she will be the perfect leader to create this new institute. I went up after the program and congratulated her.”

An Early Medical School Acceptance Program student, Gomez departed at 5 a.m. the next morning, her mother driving her and a fellow EMSAP student to Galveston where they will attend classes, shadow doctors, and get hands-on experience at The University of Texas Medical Branch on Galveston Island during the summer.

Guy Bailey, President of UTRGV, invited students and alumni to sit at his table during the celebration.Guy Bailey, President of UTRGV, invited students and alumni to sit at his table during the celebration.​
 

“Sitting at Dr. Bailey’s table was an honor,” Gomez said. “He was genuinely interested in our studies and our future plans. He asked about our experiences and our thoughts on certain things, and was so refreshing.”

Santillana, a senior Spanish major, was equally surprised at the announcement of Garcia’s departure, yet she was grateful that García will continue to be a part of the UT System. As the Student Government Association President, Santillana had been on the UTRGV presidential selection committee.

“From our first conversation when we met during the selection process, I could tell that Dr. Bailey is a very well rounded and intelligent individual,” Santillana said. “During the dinner, he asked for our suggestions and opinions, and he paid a lot of attention to what we had to say. I can tell you he is thrilled about being here, and is very comfortable here and said we have the most beautiful campus.”

Included in the evening’s program, García bestowed the honor of being a “Diamond Among Us” to Cigarroa and Former Chairman and Current Vice Chairman, Regent Gene Powell, a native of Weslaco.

The Diamonds Among Us award was established during UT Brownsville’s 10th anniversary celebration to honor the selfless actions of special people who have steadfastly advocated for the growth of higher education in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. 

An overview view of the courtyard in Main as hundreds gather for the celebration.An overview of the courtyard in Main as hundreds gather for the celebration.
 

“Tonight it gives me great pleasure to add two new diamonds to our collection of gems,” García said. “These two gentlemen have chosen to live their lives in ways that matter more for others than for themselves. They are artists of the human spirit who embody the most natural qualities of diamonds—their color is brilliant, they have clarity in the goals they wish to achieve, their cut is precise and strategic, and their carat weight is substantial enough to make a difference. And perhaps most importantly, like a diamond, they are resilient and their work will hold enduring value across generations to come.”

Another surprise of the evening – most of all to García – was having her four grandchildren take the podium to say a few words.

“She always describes life to us as a great adventure,” said Oscar Alfredo García. “Her time here at UTB has been a most unexpected adventure. She’s always saying that we must embrace the unknown and take the path less traveled. That those are the people that are remembered!”

The children refer to García as “Yaya,” meaning grandmother in Greek.

“Our Yaya has always described her life as living a life beyond her wildest dreams,” said Carolina Rico. “She’s taught us to dream without limits, to live a life without regret, to live a life in service of others.”

To make a gift to the UTRGV Founders Scholarship Endowment or the Juliet V. García Endowment, contact Irv Downing, VP Institutional Advancement, at 956-882-6577 or irv.downing@utb.edu.​
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