‘History in the Making’: UTB Students Rally at the Texas Capitol for New UT University
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 30, 2013 – It was an early wake up that Daniel Corona of San Benito did not mind.
Corona, 19, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at The University of Texas at Brownsville set his alarm for 2:30 a.m. to prepare for a 4 a.m. bus ride from the Casa Bella student housing to trek to Austin for Rio Grande Valley Higher Education Day on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Corona and other students along with the university’s One O’Clock Guitar Ensemble participated in a noon rally at the Texas Capitol’s Rotunda. The rally was to publically show that students at the university and The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg support The University of Texas System’s proposed merger to form a new university eligible for Permanent University Fund and to create a medical school.
“I want all the Texas legislators to hear about the two universities in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Corona as UTPA’s Mariachi Aztlan performed in the Rotunda. “I want them to learn that we are a striving community and to be competitive we need the university to have the same expectations.”
The significance of the moment with students from both universities joining together was not lost amid waving pendants and strumming guitars.
“Once in a while you get to be part of history,” said Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President of UTB. “We all get to be part of this moment in history. It was worth it because you get to be at the state Capitol. You played a role in taking the next major step for higher education in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Violeta Hernandez, 21, a junior history major from Brownsville, said she was excited about the proposed medical school which would enable students to not leave the region to earn a post-secondary health-based education.
“I think it’s really important to take part in these events,” said Hernandez. “This could be history in the making and others can learn about it.”
Earlier in the morning two resolutions recognizing Rio Grande Valley Higher Education Day were passed in the Legislature.
Rep. Rene Oliviera, D-Brownsville, sponsored House Resolution 249. Presenting the resolution in Oliveira’s place on the House floor was Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Harlingen.
“What I want to try to do is engage the governor’s office to have a point person on this issue (of merging the universities),” said Lucio.
Senate Resolution 89 was co-authored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.
“I am grateful to the governor and everyone to support the institutions,” said Lucio. “Texas has the opportunity to improve higher education attainment in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Accompanying Garcia on the House and Senate floors was Fred Rusteberg, President of International Bank of Commerce, a tri-chairman of United Brownsville and a member of the UTB Development Board.
“For many years the Rio Grande Valley has not received the attention it deserves,” said Rusteberg. “Education is the only way to reduce poverty.”