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Your Stories!

Verónica Villarreal

Dr. Vaughn teaching students

I am a TAMIU ’96 graduate. I have a Bachelors of Arts degree in Biology and currently finishing up my Masters in Science degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Biology. My fondest memories are of the field work with Dr. Tom Vaughan …learning about the Rio Grande and the wetlands.

We had created the first Science Club before the new buildings were opened. I had the opportunity to be the president and we traveled to science conferences to represent TAMIU. My studies helped me become a Biology teacher serving both school districts over a span of 20+ years.

My current graduate-level experience has reinforced my calling to write science curriculum and an aspiration to pursue a higher education position in the future. I am proud to be part of the 50th Anniversary celebration and recently noticed one of our pictures taken back in 1995 of Dr. Vaughan and his students doing field learning around the campus.

This picture brings back memories of the old campus and being part of the new campus that consisted of only three buildings. I am happy to say that all of us in the picture completed our Biology degrees and continued with the Master’s program at TAMIU.

Thank you Dr. Vaughan for your passion in preparing young minds to pursue our career in the science field. I am proud to have received my education from TAMIU’s top professors who taught with dedication.

Silvia Elia Vargas

Sylvia Vargas

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish. Later I got three Master’s degrees: MA in Interdisciplinary Studies, MA in Spanish, and MA in Educational Administration. Of all my professors, the one instructor who has changed my life has been Dr. Norma Cantú. Dr. Norma Elia Cantú was my English professor at TAMIU in 1993.

Really, when I was about to take her class, my friends told me she was the hardest and a very much challenging English teacher at the time. Thus, I was so frightened to lose my Cum Laude status that I had worked so hard for. Nevertheless, I have never giving up on challenges!

So there I went into my journey. I learned lots and her teaching practices were lifelong experiences. She is a tremendous Professor of English with a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She’s the Norene R. and T. Frank Murchison Endowed Professor in Humanities at Trinity University, and a Professor Emerita, University of Texas, San Antonio.

She has worked at various universities across the country and participated at multiple academic projects acting as an administrator. She has been honored since 1965- till NOW y, lo que le falta! She’s become a recognized Chicano, post-modernist, and feminist writer. The one book she autographed for me the first time back in 1996 was Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la frontera (1995). The last of her works that I enjoyed reading the most, first on my own while traveling, and later with my own high school-Cabañuelistas, was her novel, Cabañuelas where she exposes many religious customs from la Madre Patria a través de Nena while visiting España.

Even though I love literature, my passion is truly poetry, so Dr. Cantú’s poem, “Hablando y Soñando” - “Talking Dreaming” is one of my favorite poems because she projects a deep and nostalgic symbolism embraced by surrealist dreams -- but the reader can still capture the embedding ancillary dentro del rebuscado contenido onírico que lo caracteriza.

Indeed, her professional achievements are numerous and her phenomenal written documents have a keen focus on cultural norms of the popular, artistic folklore. Ella ha sido una gran influencia impactante en mi vida de una manera tridimensional porque ejerce poder y respeto académico por ser una gran mujer de valor; porque difunde nuestra cultura con raíces afianzadas en tradiciones; y porque se asegura que el aprendizaje tenga un objetivo primordial y extraordinario de superación. Afortunadamente descubrí el gusto por la literatura chicana, a través de la pedagogía de Dr. Cantú, porque me consideraba equivocadamente “purista de la lengua” y perdida dentro de mi propia identidad bilingüe. Así es que el concepto de “chicano” era incomprehensible para mi razón y no congeniaba con los relatos genéricos México-americanos de extracto social “rural” y de clases “obreras” porque creía que nos representaban a todos por igual como si estuviéramos sumergidos dentro del “cuello de una botella.”

Pero naturalmente Dr. Cantú cambio mi perspectiva, hace más de veinte años (ya llovió y tronó) a través de su literatura con una exposición social, económica, política y religiosa verosímil. Gracias, Dr. Norma E. Cantú por iluminar con luz del conocimiento la oscuridad de mi ignorancia indomita y enaltecer nuestra cultura!

I am still learning from her through her work of arts, professional workshops, and cultural activities she has invited me to get myself involved in. And yes, I kept my Cum Laude status, con mucha modestia aparte.... y me sigo haciendo camino al andar.

Dr. Halia Valladares

TAMIU has had an immense impact in my life, both personal and professional. First, thanks to my MS-International Logistics and MBA-IT I had a wonderful career both in the private sector and a academia. When I graduated from TAMIU in 1999, I received 7 job offers, since very few people had a Master of Science in Logistics, still, it is a rare degree, and now with 20 years of experience I am considered an expert in both subjects Trade and Logistics, now known as Supply Chain Management. For both, I constantly get invited to talk at international conferences, teach workshops, etc. Thanks to my TAMIU degrees I have traveled the world, starting with two study abroad experiences, one in Germany and one in France. Those experiences changed my perspective, provided me with cultural awareness and I made friends for life.

The personal impact is huge, there are no words to express it all. I met my Dutch husband at an event organized by the Electronic Commerce Student Association. He was an exchange student. To stay and be with me, he requested one more semester for exchange and finally then studied aN MS-IS. We have been together since 1998, 21 years!

TAMIU also gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, I lived a few months in residence and we had a group from all over the world, we are still friends. I met some of my best friends in TAMIU: Blanca Munguia (RIP), Alfredo Medina, Claudia Martinez, Beatriz Regules, Marco, Pele (Alberto O), Zoila, Jay, Nadia, Khaled, Fakade, etc.....some we have become family compadres and comadres. I want to thank the TAMIU SOBA faculty and staff, specially Gaby, Maggie, Imelda, Dr. Patrick, Dr. Parhizgar and my mentor, for whom I worked as a student employee, Dr. Roberts. Thank you TAMIU, you made a world of difference in my life, and I have put my mark on this world.

Dr. Halia Valladares

Miguel Macalindong

Miguel Macalindong

I, a Filipino American, pride myself in informing my friends and classmates about my heritage. As a TAMIU alumnus, I am fortunate and delighted to have enjoyed participating in International Education Week. Each year, after the jeopardy game, I would make sure to have a photo of me holding the Philippine flag. These photos are from 2016, 2017, and 2018.

I would like to give many thanks to Dr. Hilburn and his wife, Dr. Hadley, for being brilliant professors and making sure that I completed my geography minor. I took Dr. Hadley's food and culture class and Dr. Hilburn's world geography, physical geography, political geography, and GIS class. I will attest that their classes were so interesting. I would recommend students to consider getting a minor in geography!

Steven Grimes

Steven Grimes

Hi my name is Steven Grimes and I am an incoming freshman from Kingsville, Texas.

Starting my senior year, I had no idea where I wanted to attend college, I felt lost in the amount of choices I had. Many told me to go far and away from home, but I had a unique case in looking for a school. I wanted to go and play college baseball.

Throughout the recruitment process I kept TAMIU at the top of my list for 2 years. It just seemed like the right fit. I went on about two other college visits before TAMIU and something didn’t feel right about the other schools.

When I was invited to TAMIU for a visit I was nervous due to not knowing if I would feel the way I did in the previous visits. When I arrived in Laredo, I instantly felt at home. The coaches, the staff, the students, the atmosphere, the culture diversity-- everything felt like what I was looking for...HOME.

So as I get ready to leave for college in less than a month, I feel confident and ready to take on my new home, TAMIU! Thank you for the great institution y’all run and operate and thank y’all for giving me a place to call home.

Steven Grimes

Stephanie Hernandez

Stephanie Hernandez Stephanie Hernandez

TAMIU was my small taste of the world, provoking my interest in learning more about other cultures. It felt like I had a small globe in the comfort of my backyard. I was safe -- at arm's length of home, yet in a place challenging and diverse enough to make me wonder what else was out there.

TAMIU offered my first opportunities as a first-generation student, to travel out of state with the debate team, making history as the first debater to make nationals. University staff and faculty supported me emotionally and financially in both being a part of the Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative and President Obama's Re-Election campaign.

Through alchemy, TAMIU stirs comfort with risk, ease and urgency, and a sense of contentment and ambition...all into a chaotic state of enlightenment. TAMIU showed me that I did not know myself enough, and that I had to step up and out to find out more. However, the journey of self-fulfillment and discovery involves the responsibility of giving back and helping others.

I stepped into a role working for City Council, then Teachers for America, and now I am a lead teacher at an international school in Shanghai, China…where I recently assisted children with admissions into some of the most competitive primary schools in China. Simultaneously, I committed to serving the community with musical performance, two different orphanages, and a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents.

TAMIU will either bring you the world, or push you to go and get it, reminding you that we should always look forward toward change, and look back to bring others with us.

Vanessa Colegio, Class of 2018, Former Honor Council Member

My name is Vanessa Colegio and I am a first-generation Hispanic student. I am a recent graduate from TAMIU where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Minor in Psychology. I was fortunate enough to spend my summer in Washington, D.C. completing an internship through the Latino Heritage Internship Program. I took part in an 11-week internship opportunity with the National Park Service (NPS) at the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

As a volunteer outreach and recruitment intern, I was able to work with close to 1100 volunteers which contributed over 4,000 hours of service to the park. They are all passionate about contributing their skills and knowledge about our memorials and monuments to our numerous visitors. Volunteers help us carry on our mission by helping protect our resources, educate visitors, and preserve the park for future generations to enjoy.

My primary focus during my internship with NPS is to recruit volunteers with diverse backgrounds, specifically targeting Latinos and individuals who are multilingual. My goal is to introduce these individuals to the life of service by giving back to our community and by helping us beautify the parks which are visited by tourists all year around.

This rewarding experience has granted me the opportunity of extending my internship for a longer period of time. It is a privilege for me to continue working on such historic grounds where I can see the diversity of people who visit the park daily.

Vanessa Colegio

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