Environmental Science Student to Work on South Padre Island During Spring Break
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 10, 2014 – Alejandra De Los Santos will spend her first Spring Break this week on South Padre Island. But she is not visiting to enjoy the sand and gulf water – she is making sure seasonal visitors keep the beach clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
De Los Santos, 23, of Matamoros, Mexico and a senior environmental science major at The University of Texas at Brownsville, will work part-time from Friday, March 7 to Monday, March 24 in the Code Enforcement Division for the City of South Padre Island. She is working alongside code enforcement officers to make sure businesses and visitors do not use glass on the sand, do not litter or overflow trash receptacles. Her morning shifts will last eight hours.
UTB environmental science major Alejandra De Los Santos is working part-time in code enforcement during Spring Break on South Padre Island. Jennifer Wiley / UT Brownsville
“The staff told us plenty of the stories you will hear,” said De Los Santos. “They told us during training what to do and what not to do. They gave us scenarios. We learned how to write citations. We have to give the court date for the next day after the citations is written. You can pay a fine or do community service.”
Her work on South Padre Island began last summer when she did an internship educating beachgoers during the weekends about the “Treasure It, Don’t Trash It” anti-litter awareness effort. She would usually talk to at least 80 beach visitors each weekend.
De Los Santos will graduate in May from UTB. She has already been hired part-time by South Padre Island to continue working in the Code Enforcement Division after graduation.
“It feels amazing,” said De Los Santos. “When I got the call that I was hired I didn’t have words to express that. I feel happy just talking about it.”
She grew up going with her family to Playa Bagdad, Mexico and with her friends to South Padre Island to enjoy the surf and sand.
“I’m telling all my friends when they go to the beach to not litter and don’t take glass,” said De Los Santos.
Her interests in animals and the outdoors were some the reasons she selected environmental science to study at UTB.
“I think it was more than what I expected,” De Los Santos said about the degree’s academic work. “Most of it involved hands-on activities and field trips. My Geographic Information Systems class was tiring and I learned a lot. I pretty much liked everything in my major. As I took classes, I really fell in love with sustainable and renewable energy.”
During her time at the university she volunteered at a community garden in Lincoln Park on West University Drive.
“I don’t mind getting dirty and sweaty,” said De Los Santos. “That’s what I like to do.”
De Los Santos said a master’s degree is in her future plans.
“I want to get field experience and earn some of my own money,” she said. “I also want to look for a really good graduate program that I like.”