Terr'l Mark. (Courtesy of UTEP Athletics)

Overcoming self-doubt and perfecting my skills led me to play college football

EL PASO – At 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing in at 125 pounds the main obstacle to fulfilling my dream of playing football was my own fear that I was just too small, but with the encouragement from family and coaches I focused on technical skills and I made varsity in my senior year in high school. Born in the small town of Lufkin, TX as a young boy one of three kids, I dreamed of playing football as every other child did and I started early. My mom who worked in a hospital and my father, who works as a truck driver, gave me the opportunity to play football at the age of 7. Not knowing what to expect come from this sport. I was pretty excited to go up against kids who had been in this game far longer than I had.

Track athlete Tako-Khady Niare. (Michael P. Reese, courtesy of UTEP Athletics)

UTEP track star leaped the high bar of language and culture to succeed in America

EL PASO – As a track athlete since age 11, Tako-Khady Niare has participated in highly competitive high-jump competitions around the United States and in her native France. But when she moved to El Paso in January 2010 when she was 22 years old to join the UTEP track team she said she confronted one of the biggest obstacles of her life. “The process to be ‘accepted’ was one of the hardest things,” said Niare who spoke little English when she applied for her international student visa to study in the U.S. “I had to fill out lots of papers and pass two tests,” she remembers. She said that a friend connected her to recruiters at UTEP because for the longest time she had wanted to find a good university and an especially good coach in the United States. The UTEP track team needed a high jumper and Niare jumped at the opportunity.

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, director of outreach of the Welcome House Pennsylvania interacts with Dr. Richard Pineda from the Communication Department at UTEP and moderator of the panel. (Luis Hernández/Borderzine.com)

Immigration experts doubt U.S. House will tackle Immigration Reform this year

EL PASO – Advocates, journalists and policy experts joined for a virtual debate to discuss the immigration reform bill on Sept. 28as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute on immigration held at the University of Texas at El Paso. Richard Pineda, associate professor for the UTEP Department of Communication, moderated the panel of immigration experts that included Michelle Mittelstadt, from the Migration Policy Institute,
Susana Flores, communications specialist for Casa de Maryland, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, from Welcome House Pennsylvania, and Patricia Guadalupe, Capitol Hill correspondent for Hispanic Link. The panelists discussed issues related to the proposed immigration reform bill which was passed this summer by the Senate and is pending in the house. The Senate bill is expected to give a path from temporary status to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., and will prevent a continued record number of deportations.