Day: April 7, 2020

Creating rainbows from Laredo to Philadelphia

Creating rainbows from Laredo to Philadelphia

By Alejandra PeÑa
Bridge contributing writer
Published March 30, 2020

With a couple of solutions, the formation of a rainbow was expected to lead the TAMIU Chemistry Club to victory in its visit to the American Chemical Society National Meeting.

This Philadelphia conference ended up being cancelled due to the SARS-CoV-2 cornoavirus pandemic, which causes the disease known as COVID-19.

“As the Chemistry Club, our mission is to make the students aware that chemistry isn’t as hard or scary as they think,” Chemistry Club Vice President Kathia Gloria said.

The conference was scheduled from March 22 to 26. It would have been the third consecutive year for the University’s organization. They expected to bring back an award.

“The Chemistry Club students have presented research at the ACS National Conference going on five years, but this [would have been] the second time they [would have presented] a student chapter success poster and a chemistry demonstration during the conference,” Associate Professor and ACS student chapter’s faculty adviser Kameron Jorgensen said.

Courtesy | Kameron Jorgensen
TAMIU Chemistry Club members, right, demonstrate how to create a rainbow from solutions during Discover TAMIU 2020.

There are two parts to the organization’s presentation. There is the student chapter success poster and the chemistry demonstration. The poster consists of what the organization has done around the community as well as in the University.

“The ACS Student Chapter officers [would have presented] a poster to discuss the success of the TAMIU student chapter and how they have done outreach and promoted chemistry on the U.S.-Mexico border,” Jorgensen said.

The chemistry demonstration is a “short chemistry experiment that showcases a specific concept in chemistry in a quick-and-easy manner,” Gloria said.

This year’s demonstration consists of an activity intended to keep the audience interested, as well as show the importance chemistry plays in people’s lives.

“The demo we [have been] conducting this year is called ‘Rainbow Papers.’ We [dip] black construction paper onto water with a few drops of clear nail polish. The nail polish will form a thin film on the paper that, once dried, will reflect light, causing it to appear as a sort-of-rainbow,” Gloria said.

The club performs demonstrations throughout the year on campus and in different locations to generate interest.


Studying abroad gains experience

Student describes study abroad experience

By Shelley Rodriguez
Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020

Attracted to its affordability, relevance to her major and lo-cation, one student was convinced a study abroad to Azerbaijan was the trip for her.

Texas A&M International University engineering major Denisse Campos expected this summer 2019 journey to be the trip of a lifetime.

“I was grateful for the first half,” Campos said.

At first, she enjoyed being in a different part of the world. After all, Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, was nothing like Campos’ home country.

“[Being a tourist] was pretty nice … the architecture was so modern … a lot of the buildings were unique and you don’t get to see that a lot here in the United States,” she said.

Shelley Rodriguez | Bridge
TAMIU engineering major Denisse Campos poses for a photograph. Campos went to Azerbaijan.

However, the wonder faded later in the trip. Campos said a week of false accusations, high tension and busy work were on her list of reasons to dislike her experience.

“Yeah, there was drama,” she said. Referencing an incident when the event coordinator called the group out for being distracted during one of the meetings. “We didn’t like the event coordinator; we just weren’t on the same page after that.”

The weekend after did not serve as relaxation to the students, she said, due to an excursion to a village five hours away.

“We all just wanted to stay in the hotel because you’re just re-ally tired at this point, like, a week of meetings with no breaks … but we can’t refuse [the school]. We have to go.”

At first, the excursion began the same way as the study abroad trip. This left Campos in awe of the views she had of her new surroundings. She thought to herself, “[I] could live here forever.”

On the second day of the excursion, an accident occurred that would stay with Campos to this day.

“It was the worst way you could experience a study abroad trip,” Campos recalled.

While going to visit the historic palace of Sheki, strong winds caused one of the massive tree branches of a nearly 500-year-old Oriental plane, or Old World sycamore, tree to come down on 19 tourists visiting that day.

“[The breaking branch] was really loud, everyone turned their heads to see where it came from,” Campos said. “Then you just hear multiple cracks happen at the same time and then you see … this huge branch coming down, falling … I knew there were people around that tree.”

Immediately knowing the intensity of the situation, Campos believed she had no choice but to flee the scene for her safety. As she did, she only stopped to wait for her study-abroad classmates.

“I hear a lot of people running, a lot of people screaming … and it was just pure chaos.”

The coordinator listened to the students and they went back to the city, back to their hotel and were given a day to rest.


Thompson discovers treasure trove

Author discovers treasure trove

By Allan Rodriguez
Sports Editor
Published March 30, 2020

From secrets kept hidden in a shoe box, an award-winning history professor used letters and photographs to create his newest book.

Growing up in the mountains of western New Mexico, Regents Professor Jerry Thompson often wondered why there were no visits from his grandparents and why his mother never spoke about the other side of the family.

“It seemed like they did not exist,” Thompson recalled.

The truth came out right after his discovery of a shoe box hidden by his mother. He discovered letters and photographs that revealed secrets about his family line and about his grandfather—a Cherokee cowboy by the name of Joe Lynch Davis.

“In the early 20th century, Davis was at the center of rampant cattle rustling, deadly gun battles, a bloody range war, daring bank robberies, equally audacious train heists and prodigious court proceedings, which eventually resulted in 14 years in Leavenworth[, Kansas,] Federal Penitentiary,” Thompson wrote in his new book “Wrecked Lives and Lost Souls.”

Rolando Santos | TAMIU Public Relations
Regents Professor Jerry Thompson smiles on campus for a publicity photo.

Thompson never met his grandfather, yet he got to interview someone 20 years ago who did.

When Davis got out of jail, someone by the name of Niece asked him about his reasons for those lawless actions. Davis replied, “It was just what kids did back then.”

“Had I knew that he existed, I think I could have gone out there, found him and maybe said, ‘I am your grandson. Talk to me,’” Thompson said.

Thompson is the author and/or editor of 27 books. He won several awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

“It is always a great thrill when you are invited to give lectures like that one I gave last week and be invited to speak to the Civil War Round Table in Houston or Dallas,” he said. “It is always good to see your old friends and people pat you on the back and say, ‘I read your work.’”

Among his other publications are “Vaqueros in Blue & Gray”; “A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia”; “Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas”; and one of his most sold books, “Laredo: A Pictorial History.”

Rolando Santos | TAMIU Public Relations
Award-winning history professor and author, Regents Professor Jerry Thompson

Thompson joined the TAMIU faculty 33 years ago.

“There have been times where we have been so hooked on his lecture that we accidentally go over the class time,” history major Jose Meyo said. “Nevertheless, the way he is involved and the way he has motivated me and my fellow classmates has inspired me more to finish my history degree here at TAMIU.”

Meyo said Thompson is a vault full of archives and no one can get access except here at TAMIU.

“He’s a great professor, even though he’s completely opposite from my views,” junior Cristian Rios said. “He encourages every-one in the class to not be afraid of speaking your own views.”


Machu Picchu: Study abroad students learn travel photography

Machu Picchu

Study abroad students learn travel photography

By Erick Barrientos
Managing Editor
Published March 30, 2020

From Cusco to Machu Picchu, TAMIU students embarked on a journey to capture images of the vibrant country of Peru.

This previous wintermester, Jan. 3–19, the Study Abroad program hosted a trip to Peru as part of the Travel Photography class led by Assistant Professional Thomas R. Brown.

Students in the class visited and photographed many of the unique and historic places, such as the Maras Salt Mines, Sacsayhuaman Inca Fortress and the Andean Artisanal Market.

Senior Yulissa Diaz, who attended her first study abroad, said the experience wracked her nerves at first, due to the preparation involved, but getting to the country left her in awe.

“I didn’t want to put high expectations on this trip because it was my first time on a plane, my first time abroad,” Diaz said. “I literally got my passport weeks before leaving. “[Once we touched down] in Peru, it was amazing. We got treated very well, we got taken care of very well. Every place we would go to was genuinely breathtaking … I really wish we had more time to be over there.”

Senior art major Christian Terrazas appreciated this trip because it gave him the opportunity to travel and take a class that contributes toward his degree, because most times these pro-grams do not cater to art majors; this program offered communication and arts course credit.

“From the moment I got off the plane, everything was beautiful,” Terrazas said. “You really have to separate from the group, go on a walk by yourself and sit down somewhere to take it all in. Peru is such a stunning place, it’s something that none of our pictures will do justice to.”

During the two-week trip, students were tasked with creating a photo story, a way for photographers to narrate a story in a series of photographs, and Diaz said in many ways, her homestay mom influenced her topic’s decision.

“Being there with our homestay, my homestay mom, I got to eat dinner with her and watch Mexican [tele]novellas there were coming up on a Peruvian TV,” she said. “That was pretty amazing. We were bonding over little stuff like that—stuff I grew up with.

“[That inspired me] to do my photo story on the Peruvian ladies [who] weave. I really wanted to show how hardworking and talented they all are because it reminded me of my childhood where my mom and grandma would teach me how to sow.”


OPINION: Let’s revitalize Laredo by focusing on change

OPINION: Let’s revitalize Laredo by focusing on change

By Shelley Rodriguez

Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020

There is an unintentional line frequently said by children and teens all throughout Laredo.

We hear it, think it and most probably even say it at least once in our lifetime if we’ve lived here: “I’m going to leave Laredo.” Some variation of that line passed down generation-to-generation to the point where we’re not even surprised when we hear it any-more.

Shelley Rodriguez

There’s something about this lovely city that makes its own residents want to leave time-and-time again. Al-though it’s easy to point out this town’s flaws, it is still no better to leave it the way it is as opposed to staying and implementing change. To put it simply, leaving Laredo doesn’t help. If anything, wanting to leave is the least favorable choice for everyone involved.

I won’t go ahead and turn a blind eye to all the faults this small town has be-cause that, in itself, would be irresponsible as well as overdone. If I were to be honest with myself, there’s nothing this town really has to offer besides a place of comfort to “Latinx” folks as well as over-bearing heat; however, there’s one quote that’s stuck with me ever since a local teacher told me: “Laredo isn’t great because all the best people leave and never come back to share what they’ve learned from the outside.”

What happens when we leave is actually a tragedy, if we think about it. We leave the desert in search of water and once we find it, instead of going back to share it with the ones who stayed behind, we remain at the oasis.

Leaving Laredo only keeps the city in its echo chamber with no challenge for it to grow. We offer no new elements and just leave the city the way it was unless we stay or return to offer new ideas. I’m not saying we have an obligation to become city mayors or any other political figure, but what I am saying is that we have no room to criticize when none of us are willing to take the challenge to make the city as great as others of its type.

Those others started off the way we did: lame, boring and small, as everything in life does. What actually makes something blossom into something more profound? Perhaps dedication, time and effort could help. We can find influences in other cities, while adding our unique take on it.

As many of you read this, I believe you may have sense of naivety to my “proposal” or take on this notion, but I do not feel I am alone in this. This city has a population of more than 250,000 yet treats itself like a small town. We choose to not treat it like it is more. Laredo must grow, along with the Laredoan mentality, which I believe should be tweaked.

I admire the volunteers, the down-town scene that is slowly changing by embracing the local culture, the baby steps it seems to be taking and I hope the message gets across. Laredo has potential. We can make history but, perhaps, we are stunned by fear or it taking too much work to even think about making a push from the inside.

I believe, instead of setting the goal to leave Laredo, we should change it to “I’m going to change Laredo.”

It’s just a thought.


OPINION: Lessons aren’t just learned in class

OPINION: Lessons aren’t just learned in class

By David Gomez Jr.

Published March 30, 2020

Two shows left their mark on my psyche—and for the better—because I learned so much from them, especially about growing up.

College life, they say, is some of the best years in your life. They also say those memories of mediocre food and “freedom,” are the best days anyone can ever experience in their life.

David Gomez Jr.

As of now, many people are enjoying their college life. This consists of meeting new people, stimulating the brain conversing with others taking the same courses and, of course, partying.

These days, though, it is still practiced but most connections now start off by asking, “What shows do you watch?”

An honest, straight-to-the-point question, which the people I referred to as “they” earlier may have asked in their days, “What are you reading?” to spark interest in or upon their crush.

“What show/shows do you watch?”

It still baffles me this is the way my generation and younger meet new people. I guess it’s no different than my mother, and her mother, asking around the hair salon which new novella has the most drama.

The reason I bring this up is because there are two shows, actually one, that I can truly recommend without a speck of remorse, and that show goes by the name of—“Bojack Horseman.”

“But it’s a poorly drawn animated Netflix original show about a rich, washed-up, talking horse that lives in the Hollywood hills. What can be so interesting about that?” several friends asked me at various times.

If that’s the mindset you’re going in with, then don’t watch it.

“BoJack Horseman” is a show molded from the anti-hero trope that is known throughout many TV shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” and “The Sopranos” before that, and probably its biggest influence: “Californication.” Which, in the first season, just about mirrors it to a tee: an alcoholic in California who struggles with writing due to writer’s block.

Like many shows, its first season struggles to connect with the audience. One of the most notable first-season slumps that later got its footing, NBC’s hit comedy “The Office” made Thursday nights funny again after the finale of “Friends.”

If you are in the least-bit interested in “BoJack Horseman,” know this before going in: be prepared to ride out the first half of the season because you find out later that it was all set up.

The show will never let go of your attention, or emotions, because if you slip up then you might lose interest. The show’s tonal balance whiplashes back and forth.

It is topical, nuanced and fun as hell. OK, OK … maybe that last line was for myself because I’m biased toward the animal puns, misspelled shirts that make a joke or a birthday banner that reads more than just “happy birthday” because the guest star comes out of the birthday cake in said episode. Celebrity guests never take the spotlight away from our main characters but I’m always impressed which big names they get, though.

At the beginning of this editorial, I mentioned that there were two shows I hold dear. That other show is “Morel Orel.” This Adult Swim original show ended way too soon, but got its message across. I brought this show up because, for being an alternative comedy show, it shifts its tone to drama with a deep message in its final season.

A show like “Morel Orel” walked so that a show like “BoJack Horseman” could run.

There are plenty of laughs to go around in both shows. “Morel Orel” with its misinterpretations of religion and “BoJack Horseman” with its silly scenarios and running gags; what made both of them so near-and-dear to my heart was their message of growing up.

And growing up is painful, but not impossible.


Esports on campus gets life of its own

Esports on campus gets life of its own

By David Gomez Jr.
Published March 30, 2020

One campus group of student gamers, TAMIU Smash, is making more than a name for itself, as its members bring change to the campus.

Club President Luis Arriaga plays and practices “Super Smash Bros.” at Texas A&M International University; this is one type of esports fighting games he plays both competitively and non-competitively.

TAMIU Smash hosted two huge tournaments in the past which brought in people from the surrounding area to Texas.

“We were able to draw the attention of gamers from Arkansas and even Honduras to come to our tournaments,” Arriaga said. “The max[imum number] of people we have held was around 153 players from all over.”

Leonard Gonzalez | Bridge
Students finish a match of “Super Smash Bros.” on Feb. 26 in the TAMIU game room.

Since then, the University gave the Dusty Den game room some leeway in terms of funding. Dusty Den officials purchased some game systems in light of esports popularity.

“The game room is part of rec[reational sports] … some new things we have added are gaming chairs, Nintendo DS and Switch,” recreational sports employee and senior double major in communication and psychology Tania Jauregui said.

“And sooner, we’ll be getting some Playstations and Xboxes.”

Arriaga said three new game monitors set in the Dusty Den at $500 apiece. These 240 hertz, 1 millisecond monitors help keep eyes relaxed and focused.

Slowly, but surely, esports is catching the eyes and ears, of the campus gaming community—especially Smash Club.

“We are looking to recruit more members because every time we host [a tournament], or afterward, I get people coming up to me [who] say, ‘I didn’t know we had gaming tournaments’ or ‘I didn’t know TAMIU had this club on campus,’” Arriaga said.

He also mentioned that “Super Smash Bros.” isn’t the only game played. TAMIU Smash also plays with past “Super Smash Bros.” games, “Luigi’s Mansion” and the latest Nintendo frenzy—”Animal Crossing.”

“We’ve broken the walls really quick here [at TAMIU],” he said about esports getting its fair share and continued growth.

The next big tournament will be on July 18 and they plan on having more than 200 competitors.


Coronavirus: ‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’


‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published March 30, 2020

New-year goal setting and good cheer quickly disappeared as the latest health scare puts the world on notice—the coronavirus.

On the last day of December 2019, the Chinese government informed the World Health Organization of an epidemic of flu-like cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, home to more than 11 million residents. People became ill and it began to spread, increasing the number infected. Officials believed the disease to be part of the coronavirus family.

According to WHO, coronavirus is a “family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe dis-eases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).” Officials ruled out both types of betacoronavirus, leaving many to wonder what type of new disease occurred.

On Jan. 7, the virus was officially identified as SARS-CoV-2, which results in the new disease known as COVID-19.

Hector F. Gonzalez, director of the City of Laredo Health Department explains, “[SARS-CoV-2] is new. It’s part of the coronavirus family but it’s a new one and we’ve never seen it. It’s a new strain. It started in China and remains mainly in China. Of the 75,000 cases confirmed to date, 74,000 are in China and 73,000 of those are in the province of Wen.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Doctors Hospital Emergency Room Saunders attends sick patients during flu season on Feb. 20 in Laredo.

By March 13, The New York Times reported confirmed cases in China reached more than 80,900 infected. The world total reached 143,700 sickened by March 13.

With the virus finally identified, researchers still haven’t found a cure, leaving those infected with few options.

Professor Addo-Mensah, who teaches medicinal chemistry at Texas A&M International University, highlighted the complications of finding a cure in due time.

“Companies or scientists in six months or so will come up with medication or vaccinations, but six months is too long. In terms of life without being lost every day, six months is too much,” Addo-Mensah said.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
A coronavirus prevention warning on display March 6 inside a restroom in Pellegrino Hall.

As of mid-February the disease spread to more than 27 countries, resulting in 2,100 deaths from complications of the virus. That death toll reached 5,397, including 2,217 outside of main-land China, by March 13, according to The New York Times. At least 122 countries reported cases by March 13.

Although halfway around the world, the disease known as COVID-19 steadily crept into the United States. The number of confirmed U.S. cases remained around 200 or fewer until early March. By March 13, though, The New York Times reports more than 2,100 U.S. cases. As of March 11, WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic, or a global outbreak of a disease. Previously, it was classified as an epidemic.

U.S. citizens who traveled across and around China started to test positive for the disease, thus bringing the virus closer to home as they start to get quarantined in the states.

San Antonio became one of the 15 U.S. locations to quarantine infected.

While quarantined, patients get their vital signs and temperature checked about two to three times a day by medical staff in San Antonio. As medical professionals look after these quarantine patients, some residents are concerned about going near the hospitals.

Many in Texas hold mixed reactions to the evacuees returning home with the disease. Some fear they will contract the coronavirus, while others believe it is far from possible.

People online turned their confusion and frustration into memes and even hateful rants about the Chinese government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of March 13, warns against non-essential travel to the following countries: China (80,900 cases), Italy (17,600), Iran (11,300), South Korea (7,900), Spain (4,200), France (3,600), Germany (3,600) and Iceland (100).

Other countries with confirmed cases include: U.S. (2,100 cases), Japan (1,300—which includes 696 from a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama), U.K. (500), Singapore (200), Canada, Brazil, Israel and Australia (100), India (82), Egypt (80), Russia (45), Argentina (31), Algeria (26), South Africa (24), Mexico (12), New Zealand (5), Nigeria (2) and others with one case.


Twice as nice: Pelosi returns to Gateway City

Twice as nice

Pelosi returns to Gateway City

By Angela Carranza
Bridge Staff Writer
and Reuben Rodriguez
Bridge Circulation Manager
Published March 30, 2020

Returning for a second year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attended WBCA’s International Bridge Ceremony on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Feb. 22, Pelosi; Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., stood at the border.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Three U.S. House of Representatives members participate during the International Bridge Ceremony on Feb. 22 on the U.S.-Mexico border. From left: law enforcement officers, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listen to the National Anthem.

Cuellar began the event by welcoming attendees during a ceremonial breakfast at La Posada ballroom where he spoke on the importance of U.S.-Mexico trade through Laredo.

“Our trains carry 55 percent of all the trade between the U.S. and Mexico,” Cuellar said. “If you look at all the trucks that pass from El Paso to Brownsville, compared to Laredo, Laredo still does 51 percent of all the trades that pass. We’re No. 1 in trucks, No. 1 in trains here in Laredo and No. 1 in buses.”

With a symbolic ceremony on Feb. 21, Kansas City Southern announced a second train bridge will be built on the border. This addition is expected to relieve traffic throughout the city and in-crease trade flow.

Hoyer spoke briefly then Cuellar introduced Pelosi.

“Here is someone [who] understands that in our area we [would] rather have bridges than walls because we know that the Rio Grande does not divide us but actually unites us together,” Cueller introduced Pelosi to the crowd.

The attendees gave Pelosi a South Texas welcome as she took the podium.

“I want to take a moment to thank Henry Cuellar, who has been such a champion for making sure we all know that this has been one community with the border going through it,” she began. “The relationship between Mexico and the United States is an important one to better our country.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Pelosi wears a “Sra. Internacional 2020” sash during the International Bridge Ceremony.

The speaker then acknowledged Laredo’s patriotism with its celebration of George Washington.

“This community is the most patriotic place,” she said. “No place in America [are] George Washington and Martha Washing-ton honored so well, beautifully and faithfully other than in this area.”

Before proceeding to the International Bridge Ceremony, Pelosi gave a closing remark, “Thank you all for being who you are.”

She left the ballroom and met with the two Abrazo children representing the U.S.: Natalia Aileen Santos and Oscar Omar Martinez III. They marched onto the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge where the annual Abrazo Ceremony takes place.

“On behalf of the United States Congress, it is an honor to join with leaders from the United States and Mexico for the 123rd Washington Birthday Celebration,” Pelosi told the crowd.

“You are a champion for [the] U.S.-Mexico partnership, helping cultivate our strong economic cultural ties that deliver progress for all American people.”

Pelosi then praised Cuellar for the societal impact ushered during his tenure representing the 28th District of Texas.

“You were right there on the forefront—relentless and persistent to make sure that we would pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement,” she said. “Making sure that, when we did so, we would do so with respect for our neighbor of Mexico, our neighbor Canada and our workers in all three of our countries, [plus] stay true to our values as Americans, wanting to make sure that those values were felt by our neighbors.

“This wonderful event celebrates our countries’ close bonds, and close tradition and it embodies the diversity that strengthens our communities. The Abrazo Ceremony symbolizes the goodwill and affection that is the U.S.-Mexico friendship.”

It is her second year attending the annual Abrazo Ceremony. This event of unity came as Cuellar prepared for a race for his seat in the House.

“We in Congress, with our largest-ever Hispanic Caucus, feel that every day we are engaged with an ‘abrazo’ in our hemisphere,” Cuellar said. “Not just with Mexico but with the entire hemisphere and so many representatives of other countries are here today in friendship.”


Important COVID-19 Update Information