First Student Signs on to University's D. D. Hachar Honors Program Team

There's a new team forming at Texas A&M International University and Alexander High School (AHS) student Erika Tenille Tijerina is its first member.

Tijerina is signing on as the first student in the University's D. D. Hachar Honors Program, its first undergraduate honors experience for gifted students.

Joined by her parents and some of the educators and counselors who helped her to succeed as a student, Erika will be the focus of a special signing ceremony on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in A&

M International President Charles Jennett's office.

"Erika is truly a remarkable student and a winning first member of our new D. D. Hachar Honors Program team and it is a pleasure to welcome her to our University and our program," Dr. Jennett said.

Ranked 19th in her class of 430, she has a 101.0377 GPA. Her high school experience has been highlighted by long-term involvements in Alexander's Student Council, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Rotary Interact Club, University Interscholastic League (UIL) English Poetry and UIL Accounting and staff on AHS' literary magazine "The Eclectic."

She's also been a member of the Peer Assistance Leadership Group which helps to tutor elementary school children and has volunteered at the Feast of Sharing and Dia Del Río.

The daughter of Dennis L. and Marta O. Tijerina, her career goal is to become a teacher here in Laredo.

Dr. Jennett said the new program, established by the D. D. Hachar Charitable Trust, is a special honor for Texas' fastest growing university.

"We are greatly honored to carry forth D. D. Hachar's name on this exciting initiative and know that his memory will live on for generations to come," Jennett said.

The D. D. Hachar Honors Program provides for student tuition, books and fees for all four years of the student's undergraduate program. The program will begin in the Fall of 2000 with 25 students and will grow to 100 students by 2003 with a maximum gift of $300,000.

Vidal Treviño, consultant for the Trust, said the gift represents an important investment in a brighter future for Laredo's brightest minds.

"We believe that this initiative will be a catalyst for a committed cadre of gifted students who will in turn become gifted leaders and thinkers for our community and beyond. It's an investment in our shared dreams and shared futures. As it honors the vision of D. D. Hachar, it likewise honors his hopes for the community he so greatly cherished," Trevino said.

Dr. Ray Keck, University provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the D. D. Hachar Program addresses a critical need and provides increased access to higher education for Webb County residents.

"This program offers that extra measure of challenge for qualified students and offers a truly distinguished educational experience. This provides an opportunity for an undergraduate honors experience never before available. We know that parents and students alike are excited about having this opportunity at their hometown University," Dr. Keck explained.

Dr. Carlos E. Cuellar, associate professor of history at A&M International, is the D. D. Hachar Honors Program director.

Students or parents interested in receiving additional information about the D. D. Hachar Honors Program at Texas A&M International University can contact Dr. Cuellar at 326.2626 or by email at ccuellar@tamiu.edu.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu