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History Major Named an Archer Fellow Departs for Washington, D.C.

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 3, 2014 – Brownsville native Graciela Cano, a senior history major at The University of Texas at Brownsville, eagerly welcomes the New Year as she embarks on an adventure that is bound to make a profound impact on her future. Cano is among 40 University of Texas System students selected to participate in the Bill Archer Fellowship program in Washington, D.C.

Graciela Cano

“I was accepted into the program last February,” Cano said. “It still hasn’t really sunk in that I am going to D.C. I’ve had a lot of help along the way; the Vela family gave me a scholarship to cover housing during my time in D.C., the Archer Fellow Alumni Association also helped, and I have received several scholarships from the History Department, including the Rudy de la Garza Scholarship. They’ve all been very generous, and I am extremely grateful for that.”

As a Bill Archer Fellow, Cano will spend the 2014 spring semester attending classes, living and working in Washington, D.C. Classes are held at The Archer Center which recently relocated to 1750 Pennsylvania Ave. and is just a half block from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the New Executive Office Building and the White House.

An internship is a critical component of the Archer Fellows program. Fellows apply for internships based on their areas of interest. Cano has been accepted to intern with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. As an intern, she will have the opportunity to increase her knowledge and awareness of civil and human rights issues, enhance her understanding of coalition politics and observe the legislative process of the federal government.

“I know I want to work in the area of human rights in some capacity,” Cano said. “I am not entirely certain what path I will take, but I think this experience will point me in the right direction.”

The nation’s capital will not be the furthest Cano has travelled. She attended a summer study abroad class in photojournalism that took her to Spain, where the group studied and photographed the architecture of Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Malaga. The trip continued on to Poland, where the students visited Krakow and attended the National Conference on Language, Culture and Politics held in Kielce, Poland.

When she received word that nine of her photos had been selected for a student exhibition, Cano was able to return to Kielce with financial assistance from the UTB Annual Fund.

“I was very fortunate to have gotten scholarships for both the summer study abroad program and the photo exhibition in October,” she said. “I’m glad I got to see the exhibition, to see my photos on display; and I got to reconnect with the friends I made over the summer. We still talk on Skype and on Facebook.”

Dr. Sharaf Rehman, Professor in the Department of Communication, led the study abroad group to Spain and Poland, and he accompanied Cano when she returned in October.

“Graciela is an accomplished photographer and has demonstrated leadership skills,” Rehman said. “I know she is very interested in human rights and I am certain she will succeed in whatever way she chooses to help make this world a better place.”

Cano knows graduate school is on her horizon, probably to study international relations, though she would first like to work for a while to gain experience. Her education thus far has been a bit non-traditional; she was homeschooled and she attended Brownsville’s First Baptist High School, but did not graduate. Although she had already been taking college courses through her high school, she nevertheless was required to obtain a GED to become an “official” university student.

“My classes here have been really engaging and relevant,” Cano said. “That is why I left high school early and came to UTB, and I’m glad I came here. I’ve had really good mentors – Dr. Van Wagenen, Betsy Price, Dr. Rehman, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Medrano have helped me out a lot. I’ve been surrounded with people who have inspired me and encouraged me.”

Cano worked with Betsy Price in the Center for Teaching and Learning, assisting professors and students who used the online learning tool called “virtual islands.”

“Gracie is an amazing young lady who is multi-talented, creative and curious,” Price said. “This feeds her desire to expand her horizons, and she will surely be a lifelong learner. I know that someday I will read about her accomplishments in the New York Times and will be very proud she was a UTB student.”

The oldest of two children, Cano has a 19-year-old brother who is a freshman at The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg. She says she chose UTB because she could live at home and keep her costs low while trying for as many scholarships as possible to cover tuition and books.

Of the 40 Archer Fellows bound for the nation’s capital, the Rio Grande Valley is represented by four students; along with Cano are two from UTPA and one Valley student attending The University of Texas at San Antonio. Archer Fellows reside in international student apartments in townhouses in D.C.

Cano departs Brownsville on January six and will return in time to walk across the stage at Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 10.

For more information on the Bill Archer Fellow Program, visit The Archer Center.  For information on the UT Brownsville Annual Fund, visit the Office of University Relations.​​​​​​​​​​​​


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