A local dance educator who has helped hundreds of students to appreciate the beauty of dance will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Texas A&M International University.
Altagracia Azios Garcia will receive the prestigious honor in Spring Commencement Exercises scheduled May 12 at the Kinesiology-Convocation Building.
The honor was recently accorded by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in recognition of Azios Garcia's outstanding contribution to the arts and education in Laredo.
Dr. Charles Jennett, University president, said A&M International is honored to recognize Azios Garcia's contribution to the arts in the Gateway City.
"We believe this is a fitting honor for Mrs. Azios Garcia's remarkable artistic legacy in our community. Virtually no student of dance in Laredo has undertaken his or her study of dance without some connection to her teaching. As we complete our $21.4 million Center for the Fine and Performing Arts and prepare for a brighter future for the arts here, we think it is important to pause and honor an individual who has helped to secure dance and the arts in our community for over 40 years," Jennett said.
Azios Garcia, who recently retired after 43 years as director and owner of Altagracia Azios Garcia Dance Studio, has been involved in virtually every local dance effort since the mid-1950s.
From organizing the city's first Ballet Infantil Mexicano and Laredo Civic Spanish Ballet and helping to initiate BorderFest, she has long been a recognized force in local dance education and appreciation for the arts. She has often served as a dance consultant for the Laredo Independent School District, and its Magnet School program in dance.
When A&M International initiated its Fine and Performing Arts Program in 1998, she was instrumental in developing the Dance Program and continues to work closely with Bede Leyendecker, the University's coordinator of the Fine and Performing Arts Program.
In 1986, Garcia and her husband, Hector H. Garcia, were named The Laredo Morning Times' "Couple of the Year." In 1987, she was named "Outstanding Woman for the Performing Arts" by Las Mujeres and chosen as The Times' "Woman of the Year."
In 1988 she was selected as Outstanding Small Business Person by the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and in 1996 she was inducted into the Laredo Women's Hall of Fame by the Laredo Commission for Women. In 1997, LCC included her among its 50 Distinguished Alumni. A&M International presented her with its first "Terpsichorean Award" for outstanding contributions to the art of dance in 1999.
A longtime volunteer for an infinite number of civic groups, she is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Society of Martha Washington. In 1999, she and her husband were selected as George and Martha Washington by the Society.
Commencement Exercises will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12. The Commencement Address will be provided by Dr. Ricardo Cigarroa, member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
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