University Celebrates 21st
Hans M. Mark, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin and former
Chancellor of The University of Texas System, speaks to graduates at the 21st
Spring Commencement at UTB and TSC.
More than 500 graduates participated in the late afternoon ceremony
held on the Cardenas South Hall Lawn.
It was the final Commencement for the UTB and TSC partnership. Both
schools will have separate graduation ceremonies beginning this fall. In the
last two decades more than 49,000 certificates and degrees have been
Dr. Francisco G.
Cigarroa, Chancellor of The University of Texas System, told
graduates that Commencement was an invigorating time and particularly
transformational for the university as it looks to merge with
The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg and have a medical school for
“Class of 2013, you are the future of Texas, and indeed, of the United
States,” said Cigarroa. “You have so many doors open to you – to fields of
study, and to careers that did not even exist a few years ago, let alone 22
years ago when UTB was created. In this 21st Century, change is most
definitely a constant. Embrace change; you are prepared for it. As you leave
this beautiful campus, as you bring to an end your daily interactions with
cherished friends, faculty members and your extraordinary president, please know
that what you accomplished here will not end.”
Also giving remarks was Dr. Hans M.
Mark, the John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in
Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at
Austin and former Chancellor of The University of Texas System. Mark spoke at
the first partnership Commencement in 1992.
“I don’t have to describe it,” said Mark. “All you have to do is look
around. That is the vision.”
“What helped the six of us to get through this was the sense of
community and a lot of encouraging,” she said. “It’s difficult to juggle a
full-time job and we are all in education. It’s a relief and we feel
accomplished. We all stuck through it together.”
Ortiz-Paniagua said because of their graduate degrees, the group will
now be able to teach dual enrollment courses and early college high school
classes in the Mission school district.
Francisco G. Cigarroa, Chancellor of The University of Texas System, addresses
graduates at the 21st Spring Commencement at UTB and TSC.
Rolando Hernandez, 18, of Brownsville received his high school diploma
and associate degree as a member of the Mathematics and
Science Academy’s Class of 2013. He wore a red, white and blue
cord to signify his 3.5 grade point average.
“We got to become more mature students more quickly,” he said. “It
broadened my horizons and made me a better student.”
The ceremony marked other firsts and lasts for
Isela de la Cerda, 21, of Brownsville and a graduate of Hanna High
School, received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a certificate in public
health through the program.
walked across the stage and down the Cardenas South Hall Lawn at the 21st Spring
Commencement at UTB and TSC.
“I have a curiosity in the human body and how we deal with certain
diseases and conditions,” said de la Cerda. “I will continue working on my
master’s of epidemiology with The University of Texas Health Science Center at
Houston but in Brownsville.”
Roni Rentfro of Brownsville received a Doctorate of Education in
Curriculum and Instruction through a partnership between the university and the
University of Houston. She is the Interim Administrator for Texas Title I
Priority Schools grant program at the Brownsville Independent School
Rentfro, the last student to receive the degree in the partnership that
began in the early 1980s, was hooded by Dr. Howard Jones, Professor Emeritus at
the University of Houston, and Dr. Charles Lackey, Dean of Graduate Studies at
UTB and TSC.
Rentfro used her experience as being the first principal of the
Brownsville Early College High School to write her dissertation “Opening an
Early College High School: A Personal and Professional Journey of Theory and
Introductory Practice Through Shared Stories.”
“I am very excited and it is rewarding,” said Rentfro. “I plan to use
it in my career with the school district.”
The university also awarded the last certificates and associate degrees
“I think I will miss the uniting and everyone helping each other and
succeeding and telling them to not lose hope,” she
The university also granted its first master’s degrees in psychology
and gave its last associate degrees to students at the Brownsville Early College
“As our most recent graduates, today you become our newest
ambassadors,” said Dr. Juliet V.
Garcia, President of UTB. “Represent us well and take your
place among the many that have preceded you to become stewards of our mission,
leaders in our community and important contributors to making our world a better
place. Build bridges not fences; nurture and care for our fragile environment;
work for peace and justice and take your place as an engaged citizen of our