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TAMIU’s Julieta and Frank Staggs Academy of International and STEM Studies Graduates 45 Posted: 6/06/18

TAMIU’s Julieta and Frank Staggs Academy of International and STEM Studies Graduates 45


Frank and Julieta Staggs
Frank and Julieta Farias Staggs  

A total of 45 students of the Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) The Julieta & Frank Staggs Academy of International and STEM Studies received their diplomas during the Academy’s Commencement Exercises May 19. 

Created by State Senator Judith Zaffirini and authorized by the 79thTexas Legislature in 2005, the Academy is an innovative, University-level institution on the TAMIU campus. It is designed for highly gifted and motivated high school juniors and seniors focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and International Studies.

It recently underwent a name change to honor its longtime benefactors, Julieta (deceased) and Frank Staggs. 

At the Ceremony, TAMIU Provost Dr. Tom Mitchell provided remarks and was joined onstage by Frank Staggs who provided a generous donation supporting the Academy.

Dr. Patricia Uribe, Academy director and TAMIU-ISD superintendent, said she is proud of the graduates.

“I am so proud of the achievements of the Academy’s graduating class of 2018,” Dr. Uribe said, “Two years ago, these students decided to venture out and take a new and non-traditional path in order to follow their dreams.” She continued,  “They have been tried and tested and they have persevered.  They have completed a rigorous University curriculum and collectively earned over 2,780 semester credit hours. Congratulations to the students, parents and families for sharing in their dreams.”

This year’s Valedictorian was Sara Saad Hassoun and the Salutatorian Alisa Raquel García. They led the Top 10% of Class graduates.

Hassoun is the daughter of  Saad Hassoun and Dr. Weam Al-Tameemi. She has a 3.964 Cumulative GPA at TAMIU. Hassoun plans to major in Chemistry and will attend The University of Texas at Austin this fall.

During the summer of 2017, she participated in the Global Youth Summit in Boston, and collaborated with students from around the globe to conduct research proposing a solution to reducing the maternal transmission of HIV in rural South Africa.  She strengthened her interest in the medical field, establishing goals for the future. She hopes to one day attend medical school to become an obstetrician and gynecologist, giving back to women in need.

García is the daughter of Dora and Francisco García . She served as vice president in the Academy’s Student Council. She has a cumulative GPA of 3.941 at TAMIU. She will attend The University of Texas at Austin this fall, majoring in Sustainability Studies under its College of Liberal Arts.

This summer, García will travel to Washington, D.C. as the recipient of the Patriot Scholarship to attend the Close-Up Washington, D.C. Flagship Program as the honoree from the Texas Academy. 

2018 Academy graduates are Fernanda Abascal, Brenda Alfaro, Zakary Amador, Alexandria Arriaga, Brittney Barajas, Chris Carreón, Miguel Castillón, Jessica Chávez,

Ilse Cortez, Ivan De Hoyos, Iziz De La Cruz, Christian Daniel De La Fuente, María Domínguez, Enrique Esparza, Esteban Espinoza, Angel Galindo, Sofia Gámez, Avery Gámez, Alisa García, Priscilla Garcin, Kirsten González, Jackeline Gutiérrez, and Sara Hassoun.

Also, Ashley Hernández, Alexa Hernández, Genesis Lozano, Abril Manrique, Kristyna Martínez, Jesmel Ortiz, Kimberly Oviedo, Adolfo Peña, Alenia Peña, Jordan Pérez, César Pizaña, Roberto Ramón, Desireah Rodman, Carolina Rodríguez, Eric Rodríguez, Skarlette Rojas López, Alyssa, Santamaría, Alyssa Sarmiento, Ricardo Silva, Giovana Soto and Bianca Ulloa.

Students in the Academy receive full tuition and books and enjoy all privileges awarded to University students. They also have the opportunity to earn up to two years of University credit towards a bachelor’s degree while earning their high school diploma. In addition, they participate in research and collaborative educational opportunities with Academy partners.

About the Academy’s Namesakes

Frank Staggs, was born in July 1927 in Laredo to Frank W. and Gertrude Frizzel Staggs. His career spans teaching, insurance, coaching, ranching, refereeing and even bus driving. He studied at Texas A&M University for a short time before enlisting in the United States Armed Services. His assignment was to the U.S. Army Hospital Ship Mercy, which sailed across the Pacific Theatre of operations. After finishing his extended tour of duty in 1947, he continued his education at Texas A&I University-Kingsville, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He has taught in San Benito, Mirando City and Laredo and served as an assistant principal at M.B. Lamar Junior High School. When Milton Elementary School opened, he became its first principal and returned to Lamar as its principal in 1969. During that time, he began ranching with his wife, Julie’s uncle, Dr. Raúl de la Garza, at the family ranch near Oilton. Then, the Central Office came calling in 1972, and he was named Director of Special programs. Eight years later, he retired from education to pursue a career in the insurance business.

María Julieta Farías Staggs was born to Francisco F. Farías and María Julieta de la Garza Farías in July 1925. She graduated with honors from Martin High School in 1942. She studied Education and Spanish at what is now Texas State University in San Marcos. She taught school in D’Hanis, Texas one year and returned to Laredo teach at Martin High School, and then Bruni School. She met Frank Staggs in August 1951 and they were married May 28 the following year. They moved to Greely, Colorado that summer and returned to teaching in Frank’s hometown of Mirando City. She taught third grade while awaiting the birth of Frank, Jr. who was born February 1953. That summer, the Staggs returned to Colorado where Frank completed his Masters in School Administration.

Laredo became their permanent home that fall and Julie began a 30+ year teaching career at the new M. S. Ryan Elementary where she made many lifelong friends doing what she enjoyed most: teaching. In 1987, Julie was selected to portray Martha Washington as part of Laredo’s Washington’s Birthday Celebration. Frank was her “George.” Julie was beset by Alzheimer’s in 2003 and passed in October of 2015.

For additional information on the Academy, call Dr. Uribe at  956.326.2860, email, or click on

Sara Hassoun
Sara Saad Hassoun, Valedictorian
Alisa Garcia
Alisa Raquel García, Salutatorian