UTEP students eager to celebrate graduation in person after year of pandemic

After more than a year of remote classes and cancelled graduation ceremonies, students at the University of Texas at El Paso are excited about commencement. At the end of March 2021, students got the news UTEP would have an in-person ceremony for graduates of the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 at the Sun Bowl Stadium on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15. The Friday ceremony recognizes bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates and candidates in the colleges of business administration, education and liberal arts. The Saturday ceremony honors graduates and candidates in the colleges of engineering, health sciences and science, and the schools of nursing and pharmacy,” according to the announcement from UTEP Communications. Many of those who will take part in commencement are the first in their families to graduate from a university.

Pandemic measures change college life for international students

The “college experience,” usually depicted as an exciting time of meeting new people and exploring new opportunities, has changed dramatically due the COVID-19 pandemic. From classes switching to online teaching, technology issues and economic hardships, the pandemic has proven to be challenging for many students. But some Mexican international students in El Paso faced even more challenges after some government offices closed and new restrictions were placed on travel across the U.S.-Mexico border. Irving Avalos Guzman, 19, a first-year international student from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was unable to get his student visa processed on time for him to attend any classes at the University of Texas at El Paso in person. “I would like to cross the border, go to the classes, hang out in UTEP, meet new people,” Avalos Guzman said.

Visa delays stress international students attending U.S. colleges as school begins

Story by Corrie Boudreaux and Angela Kocherga for El Paso Matters

CIUDAD JUAREZ – As the first day of classes neared, violinist Rodrigo Cardona Cabrera was filled with anticipation. After years of hard work and an impressive resume of performances across Mexico and the United States, the 19-year-old Ciudad Juárez native earned a scholarship to study music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. “Of course, I’m very nervous because it’s a new experience for me,” Cardona said. “It’s like a new life. But I know that it’s going to be an amazing experience.

Navajo Nation President: New Mexico still failing students

By CEDAR ATTANASIO Associated Press/Report for America

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The leader of one of the largest Native American tribes in the U.S. called Wednesday for the governor of New Mexico to end efforts to fight a court ruling that orders improvements in education for members of his tribe and other vulnerable groups. The comments from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez come ahead of a court hearing next week in which Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will ask a state judge to dismiss a consolidated lawsuit representing Native American and Hispanic plaintiffs. “The lawsuit needs to be pursued so Native students can be provided adequate education programs and services necessary to learn and thrive,” Nez said. “Our students deserve an educational environment that prioritizes their culture and unique needs. It is time for our Native students to have the same opportunities as other students.”

Ex-convicts use Real Talk program to put El Paso youth on better path

A motivation program for children and teens called Real Talk that features conversations with felons and individuals convicted of crimes recently launched in El Paso. The project goal is to steer borderland children and teens away from dangerous lifestyles by getting them to engage in honest and open conversations with former convicts about the dangers of drug abuse, gang life, and crime. “The ultimate goal is to try and save as many kids as we can,” said Real Talk founder Sheree D. Corniel who launched the first project in Las Vegas in 2013. Corniel, who has 20 years of experience working in law enforcement as a U.S. probation officer and juvenile parole officer, said she hopes to launch additional branches of Real Talk at cities across the U.S. El Paso is the second Real Talk location. Even before the program’s official launch next month, Julian Morales, whose hard work and perseverance helped bring the non-profit program to the Sun City, and other Real Talk presenters have visited local middle and high schools to promote the program to students and parents.

Paydirt Promise provides tuition relief to UTEP students with income under $40,000

Pursuing a college education comes with many struggles, from exams and homework to figuring out how to pay for four years or more of tuition, fees, books, room and board or commuting expenses. Last summer, the University of Texas at El Paso announced it would be offering some Texas residents who attend UTEP tuition-free college starting Fall 2020. The Paydirt Promise allows a Texas resident whose family income is less than $40,000 a year to attend college without having to pay tuition. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median income for an El Paso family is $44,431. Along with the income requirement, a student must also complete their college education in five years.

The man behind the school: Vietnam vet known for advocating for disabled in El Paso

It was the end of the Vietnam War and many soldiers were on their way back home. Many were coming back with the after effects of war – PTSD, depression and physical disabilities – to a country that didn’t yet understand how to address such things. Spec. Rafael Hernando III said he was advised not to wear his uniform as he returned home to El Paso, but he refused to do so. He thought about how much it meant for him to serve, and the price he paid for it with the loss of his legs from a landmine.

1st UTEP student chosen for UT system board of regents to champion access and affordability

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed UTEP doctoral student Daniel R. Dominguez to a one-year term as Student Regent on The University of Texas System Board of Regents. He is the first UTEP student appointed to this position. Dominguez, who expects to earn his Ed.D. in educational leadership and administration in 2023, is The University of Texas at El Paso’s director of accounting and financial reporting. His term as Student Regent began June 1, 2019, and expires May 31, 2020. He said he is excited to serve as the voice of the more than 235,000 students who attend the System’s 14 institutions.

New report explores New Mexico education system’s downward trend under Martinez administration

By Sylvia Ulloa, New Mexico In Depth, New Mexico In Depth
The easiest number to understand in the just-released 2019 Annie E. Casey Kid’s Count report is that New Mexico ranks 50th overall in child well-being. That’s a stark ranking, the second year in a row New Mexico earned that distinction. For detractors and supporters of former governor Susana Martinez, there’s a lot to digest in the numbers released Monday because they track with nearly her entire tenure. The chart below shows the Kids Count rankings in several categories for 2012-2019, but most of the data comes from 2010-17 (Rankings go back to 1990, but a different methodology was used in those years, making direct comparison difficult). “It very much is a reflection of what happened, and more specifically, what didn’t happen during the Martinez years,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which monitors the indicators for New Mexico.

EPCC, UTEP fight student hunger with food pantries

EL PASO — One in four college students does not have enough to eat according to the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. College food pantries help students cope with food insecurity. “A lot of students are going hungry, a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck and we wanted to address this issue by opening a food pantry.” said Bryan Mena, president of the El Paso Community College student government association. “We want to make sure every student knows that it’s an option for them.”

In the past five years, student government at both EPCC and the University of Texas at El Paso’s created their own on campus food pantries to offer free food to students and staff in need. The EPCC and UTEP pantries offer a variety of nonperishable food items for their students and staff ranging from canned meats, beans, soup, cereal, to a variety of canned vegetables.

Access, talent, research and external funding 4 keys to UT El Paso’s continued success, retiring president Natalicio says

EL PASO, Texas — After spending three decades reshaping the University of Texas at El Paso, Diana Natalicio isn’t sure she’s ready for the next stage of her life. “Well, I mean, in some ways I am and in some ways I’m not, having done the same thing for 30 years,” said Natalicio, who announced her retirement in May as UTEP’s president. “I don’t have much practice on the retirement side of this. So I think it’s a good time for me to do this. But I’ll have to see how successful I am at being a retiree.”

Natalicio, a 79-year-old native of St.

Mom couldn’t find inclusive preschool for her child with special needs, so she opened one in El Paso

EL PASO – After her daughter was born five years ago with Down syndrome, local educator Kerry McKee began an extensive search for special education opportunities for children with the genetic condition. She searched with no luck for schools in the El Paso area that catered to children like her daughter and discovered that Down syndrome children often were placed in separate classrooms.

She even considered moving to another city in Texas with special facilities and learning opportunities for children with special needs. “I said, that’s not the education my child is going to have,” said Mckee, who has worked for 20 years in the field of education. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, approximately one in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome – or about 6,000 each year. Finally, after visiting the KinderFrogs School in Fort Worth, an inclusive program designed for children with disabilities, she decided El Paso needed a program like it.

Internships critical for college students to gain edge in job market

The U.S. unemployment rate at 4.4 percent is at its lowest level in 10 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are more than 6.2 million job openings. But just because there are jobs doesn’t mean that graduating college students are guaranteed work. One thing that can hurt graduating students’ chances of getting a job is the lack of an internship on their resume. Internships can demonstrate that students gained on-site and hands-on experience in their field of study.

UTEP strives to give students an ‘Edge’ before and after graduation

The University of Texas at El Paso offers a vast array of services to students that will not only help them while in school but to prepare them for lifelong success as well. Besides course work, UTEP further prepares students by providing research experiences, creative activities, study abroad, student employment, and student internships, among others. This fall semester, UTEP gathered all of these activities under a new initiative called UTEP Edge, which helps students get involved in school and in their career planning by focusing on research projects and extracurricular activities while they are enrolled. “The Edge is really centered around three core statements which are talented students, enriching experiences, and lifelong success,” Marc Cox, director of the Center for Faculty Leadership and Development, said. According to Cox, the fact that the majority of UTEP students are bilingual is an asset.

School children find peace, balance in Kundalini Yoga practice

A yoga practice referred to as “the yoga of awareness” is helping students be more present, confident and peaceful, said the director of an El Paso Montessori school. “Kundalini Yoga for us has been a tremendous opportunity for students to connect even deeper within, to really understand that they are inside and really make a connection with their body and mind,” said Natalia Bennett, director of Mountain West Montessori School. She said some of the benefits students have experienced from Kundalini Yoga practice at Mountain West Montessori include thinking more clearly, being more aware of their surroundings and being at peace within themselves and the people around them. Kundalini Yoga is one of the older yogas and is very comprehensive including meditation, breath work, and mudras with hand positions, mantras, chanting, and singing. “Yoga means to unite, to merge body, mind and spirit, and Kundalini Yoga does that, it connects us to our inner wisdom, our consciousness our inner strength,” said Paramdayal Kaur, a certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher in El Paso.

How the popularity of UTEP’s majors have shifted for women

Think you can guess what UTEP’s most popular undergraduate majors were last in 2015? If you guessed nursing for women and engineering for men, you’d be right. But if you had to guess what the most popular undergraduate majors were 10 years ago, would your answers still be the same? According to UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning, Business was the most popular major for male students in 2005, but among women, education was the most popular major, comprising 10 percent of female undergrads. Business was the most popular major overall at the university.

Borderzine now accepting applications for Journalism in July 2017, a summer multimedia workshop for high school students

Borderzine is accepting applications from El Paso area high school juniors and seniors for full scholarships to attend the 15th annual Journalism in July (JIJ) workshop at the University of Texas at El Paso. The dates are July 9 – 16. Fill out the application form here. Over the last 14 years, the workshop has provided journalism training to more than 200 students from high schools in the El Paso–Ciudad Juárez–Las Cruces area.  A goal of the workshop is to encourage high school students of diverse backgrounds who are already interested in journalism to pursue future studies and careers in news media and communication. “Journalism in July encouraged me to pursue a career in journalism,” said Gloria Heredia, 2012 alumna of the program and current multimedia journalism student at the University of Texas at El Paso.

NewTech teaching tools prepare Bowie students for college and beyond

As students file into a freshman algebra class at Bowie High School they begin to notice that something is different. The round tables in the center of the room have folded tent cards with job titles such as “Resource manager”and “Task manager.” The outer tables in the room each have a tower of wood blocks. “Miss, we’re playing Jenga?” asks Amber Macias, a student in teacher Celeste Cano’s algebra class.

Air pollution leads to lower grades for some El Paso schoolchildren, study finds

El Paso’s poor air quality is driving down school performance for children in neighborhoods with high rates of airborne metabolic disrupting chemicals, researchers say. In a study published in the September issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso and Northeastern University looked at school performance among fourth and fifth-grade public school children in El Paso. They found that children exposed to higher levels of airborne toxins had lower grade point averages,

Related: Air quality one of biggest threats on U.S., Mexico border

Study author Stephanie Clark-Reyna, a second-year doctoral student at Northeastern University who attended UTEP as an undergraduate, said she hopes the research will have an impact on how El Paso addresses its unique air quality issues. “Air quality in El Paso is concerning because of the trucking industry. Last time I looked it up, something like 800,000 trucks passed through a single port of entry in one year,” Clark-Reyna said.

Bowie High School students gear up to launch sustainable food truck business

Starting a business can be a risky and tedious endeavor. Yet six Bowie High School seniors have taken on the challenge with a donated school bus, the support of school officials and assorted contributions from local businesses. If all goes according to plan, business seniors Sophia Morales, Veronica Rodriguez, Andres Valdez, Joseph Gutierrez, Sergio Marrufo, and Sisco Gonzalez, all age 17, will soon be selling healthy food options out of the Oso Good Food Truck to raise money for college scholarships. The student-run food truck business, slated to hit the streets in January, is a partnership with Bowie’s International Business Academy in partnership with EPISD, El Paso Custom Food Trucks, Bowie Garden Resources, and now Whole Foods Market. The six seniors enrolled in the International Business Academy at Bowie produced the business plan.

Dr. Kathy Staudt: An empowering professor and her legacy on the border

The highly accomplished UTEP Political Science Professor, Dr. Kathleen Staudt, was recently honored at a Women’s History Conference on campus for more than two decades of work and commitment to community engagement, mentorship to students and vast scholarship on border issues. Staudt is currently working on her 20th academic book about international border politics, and says she has no intention of slowing down any time soon. She said from her office at Benedict Hall that she was delighted to finally have a chance to make her legacy speech. “It was nice to have a legacy speech before I retired,” she joked. She added that retirement will not come any time soon: “Of course I think about retirement and I probably will once I reach 70,” said Staudt, who is in her 60’s.

Premian con beca ‘elite’ presidencial a estudiante de preparatoria

Daniel Bueno, estudiante de la preparatoria Irvin de El Paso, se hizo acreedor a una beca presidencial de $24,000 para cuatro años de educación superior en cualquier universidad del país. A pesar de recibir tentadoras ofertas de prestigiosas universidades como Harvard y Yale, Bueno, de 18 años, ha decidido optar por la Universidad de Texas en El Paso. Explica que en la escuela de su cuidad natal, que cuenta con 25,000 alumnos, recibirá una educación de calidad. La escuela fronteriza ofrece muchas oportunidades a los alumnos hispanos para triunfar y culminar sus metas profesionales. El piensa estudiar contabilidad.

Little Free Library movement spreading in El Paso

After hearing about the international Little Free Library project, El Paso school librarian Lisa Lopez found local partners to bring the movement to this border community. There are now more than 100 public boxes stocked with books throughout the city to encourage literacy efforts. Borderzine reporter Andrea Macias has the details of the program in this video report.For more information on the Little Free Library project visit littlefreelibrary.org


Borderzine now accepting applications for Journalism in July 2016, a summer multimedia workshop for high school students

Borderzine is accepting applications from El Paso area high school juniors and seniors for full scholarships to attend the 14th annual Journalism in July (JIJ) workshop at the University of Texas at El Paso. The dates are July 10 – 16. Fill out the application form here. Over the last 13 years, the workshop has provided journalism training to more than 200 students from high schools in the El Paso–Ciudad Juárez–Las Cruces area.  A goal of the workshop is to encourage high school students of diverse backgrounds who are already interested in journalism to pursue future studies and careers in news media and communication.  The fast paced one-week training includes a variety of hands on workshops in basic journalism reporting and writing skills, media ethics and digital video, audio and photo production.

Latinos at Yale have banded together over the years to succeed

By Annika Darling, CTLatinoNews.com

Yale University was founded in 1701. Over 250 years later, in the early 1970s, the first Latinos stepped foot on the prestigious campus. For these Latinos, Yale was a Sisyphean challenge — a sea of unfamiliar affluence never before traversed by Latinos.  They soon realized the only way to survive the resulting ostracism and isolation would be to ban together.  As a result of their determination to succeed,  today, there are approximately 5,000 Yale Latino Alumni. The Early Years

Former Yale Associate Dean, Rosalinda Garcia, explained, “Most of the first Latinos who went to Yale had a very hard time. One, it was a racist climate, and two, these students were brought onto campus and they weren’t given any resources to succeed.”

Garcia describes the first “big” class of Latinos – it had a total of five (in a class of thousands), and it was common for them to be called derogatory names around campus.

Early college, endorsement programs enhance Texas high school options

As an eighth grader at Clint Middle School, 13-year-old BobbiAnn Owen decided she would apply to an early college program that is part of Clint High School that allows students to obtain an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from 12th grade. She was delighted when she made the cut. She was one of 70 students accepted to the selective and demanding program out of 159 applicants. Clint school district has 2,907 high school students and all the benefit of applying for Clint Early College Academy before their freshman year. BobbiAnn now, half a year into the program, is making personal sacrifices to excel and remain in the program.

Talking hazing to prevent hazing among college students

EL PASO — As part of Hazing Prevention Week 2015 at UTEP, students played a game in which they placed red or green pellets in boxes containing different potential scenarios: red if they thought it was not hazing and green if they thought that it was. Sometimes the scenarios fell into the “gray area” for participants, highlighting one of the biggest problems of hazing for some students – knowing when the line has been crossed. Delecia McPherson, president of the National Panhellenic Council at UTEP, said the scenario game and other exercises were great ways to engage students in discussions about activities that may humiliate, degrade, abuse or endanger group members or initiates – even if they seem willing to participate. “I believe my knowledge on hazing has better informed students on what is considered hazing and how we can question situations that may draw a fine line on the subject,” she said. National Hazing Prevention Week ran from September 21 through the 25.

Library checks out robotics program to engage young learners

EL PASO — The normally quiet atmosphere of the library with the faint aroma of musty books waiting for stories to come alive is interrupted by the laughter of children ordering brightly colored robots to launch a ball through a hoop, pick up litter and put it in in the trashcan. They love the idea of being in charge of the robots they created with Legos and electronics at the Esperanza A. Moreno Regional Library on Pebble Hills Road where they learn teamwork — working together to complete a project. “The kids don’t just like to build them, they like to decorate them too,” says Gerardo Sanchez, a teacher of computer science at El Dorado High School. Some robot kits reach a height of six feet and weigh in at around 120 pounds, and can cost more than $7,000. The extra parts can cost some $3,000.