EL PASO, Texas — The office of the vice president for student affairs at the University of Texas at El Paso has issued a letter addressed to students commuting to class from Mexico, encouraging those who may be experiencing difficulty coping with the recent murders in Juarez of two UTEP students to utilize the services the university provides.
“The recent loss of students, Manuel A. Acosta and Eder A. Diaz, has been a difficult situation for the entire UTEP community. I am aware that for those of you who live in Juarez and other parts of Mexico or those of you who have immediate family there may be experiencing that loss more acutely,” said Dr. Richard Padilla, Vice President for Student Affairs.
Padilla encouraged the UTEP student body to watch for students who may be struggling with the recent tragic events.
“Let them know that there are people on campus who may be able to help. Even if they choose not to follow through at the time you speak to them, you will give them motivation to do so if things become more difficult for them in the future. At the very least, you will help reassure them that others care about them,” Padilla said.
Students and staff at the College of Business on the UTEP campus continued to mourn Acosta’s death. Senior, Electronic Media major, Anna Lopez works one floor up from the Business Department’s administration offices, where Acosta spent much of his time outside of class. “I knew Manuel very well. I met him three years ago, but we were friends before we began working in the same building,” Lopez said.
“I asked him why he didn’t move to El Paso. He said it was too expensive and that he had his family back in Juarez,” Lopez said. Acosta gave the College of Business notice he would be accepting a job offer in his field of study with an El Paso firm less than one week before his death.
“He was a student who was almost two steps ahead of me,” Assistant to the Dean, Isabel Coronel said. “Aside from his punctuality, organizational skills and attention to detail, he knew the whole operation. He may not have been responsible for it, but he knew what needed to be done” Coronel said.
The administration office at the College of Business has Acosta to thank for how artwork is displayed along the walls. That was just one of the projects that Coronel had assigned Acosta. Coronel spoke highly of Acosta and the great help he was when Coronel asked him to help organize a Christmas party.
“Manuel said he was going to make it flow this way and he put up brick paper so it looked like a chimney. When you have a kid like that you appreciate the help,” Coronel said.
College of Business staff member, Bernadette Flores knew Acosta for about seven months and worked across the hall from him. “Manny was very strong. He was a risk taker. He didn’t think anything like this would ever happen to him,” Flores said.
A table with a single rose in a vase sat next to a stack of blank paper doves in the lobby of the main entrance, under the television mounted to the wall that ran a short tribute for him. Friends, co-workers and people who never met Acosta, stopped to leave their messages on a board that read, In Loving Memory Manuel Acosta. “I can see it on the people’s faces. It is devastating especially here on the first floor. He worked with a lot of people,” Lopez said.
“We’re all hurting right now. We’re not sure why it happened. They did not deserve to die the way they did,” Flores said.