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UTB Alumni Start Arts and Culture Magazine for the Rio Grande Valley

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JULY 26, 2013Two graduates of The University of Texas at Brownsville have published the first edition of a regional arts and cultural magazine. 
 
Jason E. Moody and Osli J. Mejia, both of Brownsville, recently launched VIDA for the Rio Grande Valley. The bi-monthly magazine will focus on community affairs, dining, architecture, finance and innovation while keeping an emphasis on lifestyles and creativity. 
CAPTION GOES HERE ALSO UTB Alumni Jason E. Moody, Osli Josuhe Mejia and Cindy Vela celebrate the launch of VIDA.
 
“The Valley is ready for a publication like this,” said Moody.  “We want to provide the Valley with something they haven’t seen before.” 
 
The co-publishers kicked off the magazine’s launch with a celebration on Friday, July 26 at the Brownville Museum of Fine Arts on East Ringgold Street.  
 
The Concept
Though Moody and Mejia both graduated from UTB, they had never met before starting the magazine. 
 
Moody, a 1999 graduate of Brownsville’s Pace High School, was involved in yearbook and newspaper and liked the creative side of journalism. He attended The University of Texas at Austin but graduated from UTB in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. 
 
Mejia graduated in 2005 from the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes and wanted to study neurology in medical school. His family had always been involved in business so he decided to change his major and graduated from UTB in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.  
 
Moody said he has wanted to publish a magazine for at least three years, and found the timing was right this year to make his vision a reality. 
 
Mejia also wanted to publish a magazine with a business theme.  
 
“I’d rather leave a dent here in Brownsville before I go anywhere else,” said Mejia. “I am always looking for progression.”
 
Moody and Mejia met through mutual friends this spring and discussed their concepts and determined they could be put together.  
 
“We became good friends actually,” said Mejia. “We have the same goals and direction. It is about creating an impact in the Valley.” 
 
Creating the magazine
The premiere edition of the magazine had a circulation of 5,000 but with its success, Moody said twice as many copies will be available for the September/October edition. The magazine has been distributed regionally to spas, hotels and other lifestyles-related businesses.  
 
The magazine utilizes freelance photographers and writers for content. The first edition features stories on The Original Oyster Bar and Sacred Heart Church in downtown Brownsville and the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. 
 
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“A lot of our friends pitch us stories but we find what is impactful,” said Mejia. 
 
Several of the magazine’s advertisements feature QR code readers which, when scanned by smart phones, can take readers to web pages and other special content of the featured businesses.  
 
Moody and Mejia want to make the magazine the state’s official cultural and lifestyles magazine for South Texas.  
 
“I think we set the bar high for ourselves,” said Moody.
 
The first cover
VIDA’s June/July edition has Brownsville born, Olmito raised and Los Angeles resident Cindy Vela on the vivid orange, cream, red and yellow cover.  
 
Vela was on campus this spring to film scenes for the independent film “End Game” directed by Carmen Marron about school chess in Brownsville. Vela portrays a detention teacher. 
 
“I loved the idea that someone wanted to tell the story not just from a teacher-to-student standpoint or a student learning and growing into his own but about the Rio Grande Valley,” said Vela. “There are not very many stories that go into film about the Rio Grande Valley, about Brownsville and McAllen. Sometimes they are not that positive. This was positive and beautiful.”  
 
Vela, a 1997 graduate of Los Fresnos High School, played the alto saxophone in the Mighty Falcon Band. She graduated in 2003 from UTB with a bachelor’s degree in music with teacher certification. While at UTB, she played in the One o’Clock Jazz Band and UTB Concert Band. 
 
“It was my father who asked me to stay at UTB and to continue my education here,” said Vela. “At first I was a little skeptical about why I would want to stay where I have been so long. Even though I loved it here, I wanted to see the world. It ended up being the best thing I have done for myself which was to stay here and get my education and learn about the community and to learn about myself.” 
 
After graduation, she worked three years as an assistant band director at Memorial Middle School in Harlingen.  
 
“It was so much fun,” said Vela. “All the factors I had in the university of learning about myself and the culture and musicianship and all those wonderful things I was able to use in middle school for these children who I was able to inspire and give that same direction.” 
 
At this time, she started doing modeling and acting as a pastime. During her third year of teaching, she traveled to Los Angeles to visit and met an agent who offered to represent her.  
 
“I came back and thought about it for a bit, and thought well I graduated high school, graduated college and have a degree,” she said. “I taught and I had done everything I set out to do. And yes there was more I needed to do but it was an opportunity to do something different and something I had never done before.”
 
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