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Inspiring Photos of Alumni Adorn Sabal Hall

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – APRIL 18, 2014 – Students at The University of Texas at Brownsville now have some names and faces of UTB alumni to inspire them as they go to and from classes in Sabal Hall. Posters featuring UTB graduates who are actively working in their chosen career fields have been hung in the building’s main hallway to help promote the important contributions alumni make to the university and the community.
Two Brownsville natives who graduated from UTB – Rodney McClanahan and Nadia Paredes – are among the 12 graduates featured on the posters.
Rodney McClanahan is following his dream by opening his own gym, Hardknox Strength & Performance.
“I’m sure it is encouraging for students to be reminded of those who have travelled their road – who went through what they are experiencing, who know what it’s like to be in their shoes – and came out on the other side as a graduate working in their chosen field,” McClanahan said. 
By the age of 10, McClanahan knew he wanted to open a gym. He put the wheels in motion by graduating from UTB in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance, majoring in exercise science. His next step was to follow the advice of two colleagues from the Recreation, Education and Kinesiology Center, where he was a student employee while in school, and continue on to graduate studies at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla. 
Two years later, back in Brownsville with his Master of Science in Exercise Science, McClanahan knew he was not yet ready to open a business; he attended an alternative teaching certification program that summer, and began teaching at IDEA Public Schools in the fall.
“By the end of the school year, I knew I was ready to take the next step and open my gym,” McClanahan said. “I had saved a bit, and lucky for me, a local gym was closing, so I managed to purchase a lot of equipment for a reasonably low price.”
The doors to Hardknox Strength & Performance at 254 Military Hwy. in Brownsville opened in August of 2012.
“I never thought I would reach my dream by this point, if at all,” McClanahan said. “And here it is not even two years since the gym’s been open, and business is doing great, doing very well – it’s exciting.” 
Nadia Paredes, a seven-year veteran of the United States Customs and Border Protection, has recently been accepted to join the K-9 unit. She departs next month for K-9 training in Front Royal, Virginia; when she returns seven weeks later, she will be accompanied by her new four-legged partner.
Nadia Paredes is joined by Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, UTB President, next to her poster at the unveiling on Friday, March 7.
“I love dogs, and I’ve always been interested in the way the dogs work in law enforcement – they think of their jobs as play – and the bond between a handler and their dog is so special,” said Paredes, who received her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from UTB in 2004.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree at UTB, Paredes graduated from the Police Academy at Texas State Technical College and became a Deputy Sheriff with the Cameron Country Sheriff’s Department; after a while, she began her field training as a criminal investigator. Before leaving the Sheriff’s Department, Paredes had the distinction of becoming the first woman to join the Cameron County Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. She accepted a position with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the spring of 2007.
“With CBP, we check documents of people coming into the United States, making sure they are legitimate and are not carrying illegal drugs or merchandise,” Paredes said. “We know these things are happening, so when we discover a load of drugs or someone trying to enter with fake documents, we know we are fulfilling our responsibilities. Now, I’m eager to get to Virginia and meet my future partner; I hope we have a long and successful career together.”
A visit to Sabal Hall is the best way to view the new alumni posters or they can be viewed online at Alumni Stories.
UTB alumni are encouraged to visit the Alumni Association web page and register online to stay up-to-date on career and networking opportunities.


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