Day: April 13, 2020

LEAP program offers choices

LEAP program offers choices

By Alejandra Pena
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

With an early acceptance program, TAMIU students can fulfill their dreams of attending a graduate or professional program.

The Laredo Early Acceptance Program is a partnership between Texas A&M International University and the University of Texas Health and Science Center at San Antonio.

“LEAP is a program where students take an agreement where they will be guided through courses and other requirements to be accepted into the program of their interest in UT Health,” LEAP student Desireah Rodman said.

There are five programs available to LEAP students, as well as various advantages that come with program participation.

“Some of the benefits that come with being LEAP students is that we have direct mentoring with the director of health admissions as well as we get to meet some of the faculty and staff from the specific programs of our interest,” Rodman said. “We get to see what makes us strong applicants in order to continue to better ourselves when it is time to apply.”

With LEAP, the program’s goals are to help students develop plans for a successful future.

“LEAP gives us a roadmap for success and acceptance into the programs of our choice,” Rodman said.

The Biology and Chemistry Department in the College of Arts and Sciences guides students to necessary courses needed in order to gain acceptance into the school.

“I would recommend this program to other students interested in the medical field, yet not specifically medical school, because this program offers many tools that students can utilize to accomplish their goal as a healthcare provider,” Rodman said.

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DustyCup event canceled

DustyCup event canceled

By Joel Caballero
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Considered by some to be the most competitive event, both mentally and physically, between student organizations, DustyCup was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Student Government Association at Texas A&M International University, which sponsors the annual event, planned to host it this semester on April 4. The event normally brings student organizations together for the opportunity to compete for bragging rights and for the winner to take home a trophy and a grant.

DustyCup is typically hosted after the Big Event, a Universitywide community service event for the local community. The event was expected to not only have a physical portion but also one for academics with general topics and TAMIU history.

SGA Vice President Mariana Rodriguez said there is more to the event than some realize.

“It promotes student engagement,” Rodriguez said, “giving organizations the time to network between one another. To add, it is fun to see how competitive it can get.”

The Traditions Committee coordinates the event and revamps it each year.

“I would love to see as many organizations as possible [get involved],” Rodriguez said, prior to the cancellation. “The event is for them to step back from studies and group business to create bonds and partnerships. Plus, let’s keep the University traditions strong.”

This year, the committee planned to swap activities and partner with TAMIU recreational sports to see what else could be brought to the table.

“Organizations should expect to see new activities this year,” DustyCup Coordinator Lesley Escalera said, prior to the cancellation. “We are always excited to partner with Rec Sports; the combination of their ideas and the committee’s always makes a successful partnership.”

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New additions made to the College of Nursing

New additions made to the College of Nursing

By Amber Davila
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences underwent several changes; it continues adding to its variety of degrees.

Now the college offers different types of majors and certifications. Texas A&M International University students can major in more than nursing alone.

“The College of Nursing now has communication disorder, kinesiology non-certification, nursing and starting this fall, we will have public health,” academic adviser Anna Buentello said. “So, that’s a new program upcoming [this] fall semester. This is for the students that are not admitted to the nursing program. We’re gonna recommend that they do the public health program because it has similar requirements with a lower GPA.”

In the nursing program alone there were minor changes, including one affecting the entrance exam.

“In the nursing program itself, nothing has changed besides requiring a 75 or better on every subject in the HESI,” Buentello said.

The College of Nursing expansion includes adding another staff member to its ranks for new programs.

“Felipe Rodriguez is our new academic success coach for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. He is part of our department since last semester in late November,” Buentello said.

With the additional staff member, students should get better assistance in selecting courses, programs and degrees within the college.

“I will be advising the health sciences, which are public health, kinesiology and communication disorders,” Rodriguez said.

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Mariachis strive for excellence

Mariachis strive for excellence

By Jason Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Often performing at celebrations, the Mariachi Internacional took the opportunity to perform at Discover TAMIU to represent Hispanic culture.

“We kind of want people to see that [Texas A&M International University] has mariachis and has that Mexican culture,” lead vocalist and trumpet player Danny Perez said. “The mariachis represents Mexican tradition and values.”

 Along with performing at Discover TAMIU, the mariachis expected to take part in the upcoming mariachi festival originally scheduled for Apr. 23. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that event is most likely canceled.

“Mariachi does play a big part in TAMIU because it is a part of the Mexican culture, and the Mexican culture is the biggest culture here,” violist Angela Carranza said.

Mariachi Internacional is led by Director Oswaldo Zapata and consists of music students, and those from other disciplines, wanting to learn more of the musical side of South Texas culture.

“One of the biggest events we are having is called Sonidos de Mexico and it is going to be by concert,” Perez said. “We’re going to have all these workshops where different kids from different high schools come and work with this professional mariachi, one of the best mariachis in the world, named Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan.”

The TAMIU mariachis pride themselves in their Hispanic background.

“We always try to go to events that promote Mexican culture, such as El Grito,” Perez said. “El Grito is an event the [mariachis] have been performing for the longest time and it’s always trying to spread that Mexican culture and legacy [they] want to leave. It started back in 1980 and now it’s just growing every single year.”

These mariachis also take pride in their performances, working to ensure audiences remain engaged.

“The thing that I love about performing is when I look at people and they are smiling,” Perez said, “because it reminds them of their childhood or that nostalgia of growing up with mariachi music … It brightens their day.”

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Pride events canceled for social distancing

Pride events canceled for social distancing

By Annabelle Arambula
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Despite Pride Week’s existence in June, TAMIU holds pride week in April since summer is not part of the spring or fall semesters. The Campus Ally Network organization, created in 2016, is the only LGBTQ organization at the University and helps organize the campus Pride Week.

CAN President Michael Najar said the organization is small but eager to grow. As of now, the organization has 20-35 members but Najar hopes for more to join.

“We are a group that accepts people when they’re different,” Najar said. “We try our best as possible to make the school environment more friendly with us.”

He said maintaining an organization that is welcoming and accepting of different types of people is important. Pride week is CAN’s biggest event of the year. It was scheduled for April 6-10 but was canceled with all of the other campus events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Monday, April 6, we have our first event, which is basically an information booth with free hugs and a fundraiser,” Najar said, prior to the event’s cancelation. “We just basically inform people what’s happening throughout the whole week. On Tuesday, we’re going to have all organizations and small activities that relate to the LGBTQ community.

“Then on Wednesday, we’re going to have a tribute to why pride matters. We’re going to meet at the Student Center rotunda. Basically, having panels, pictures of all those who went through the struggle of being gay or being trans[gender].”

If the coronavirus had not struck, a Pride Walk was planned with help from the Martin or Alexander high schools’ bands, he said.

“We’re going to have it here from the garden and walk from the [Sue &Radcliffe Killam] Library to [the] Zaffirini [Student Success Center],” Najar described what might have happened. “On Friday is our drag show. We’re going to have some Laredo queens and some Houston queens.”

Sophomore sociology major Melody Valdez is a CAN member.

“We’re hoping for 50 people to show up during small events and 100 or more people for the pride walk and drag show,” Valdez said, prior to the event’s cancelation.

For CAN member and senior education major Cynthia Mancha, she said her favorite part of Pride Week is “the Pride Walk because everyone comes together to show support for one another which is something that is much needed in Laredo.”

The best part of Pride Week, Najar said, is seeing different types of people and organizations coming together for the event. Many of the activities involve large groups and would have violated the maximum number of people in a location, according to the City of Laredo emergency ordinance regarding the coronavirus.

The LGBTQ community faced and still faces issues, such as housing and employment discrimination, violence, unequal healthcare and acceptance. Part of Pride Week’s purpose is to recognize the impact LGBTQ members made on the world.

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Rise of esports at TAMIU

Rise of esports at TAMIU

By Ruben Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

The TAMIU Smash Club is composed of students who play “Super Smash Bros.” for relaxation and competition.

Over the course of the semester, students formed bonds, thus enhancing the college experience for most. Management information systems major Luis Arriaga said his studies of networking exceeded his expectations in the TAMIU Smash Club.

“I want to have events that bring competitors from around the United States to [Texas A&M International University] and compete with our local Smash players,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga hopes to persuade TAMIU into looking at programs or scholarships for esports.

“TAMIU lags a little behind, but recently, the TAMIU [Recreational Sports Center] bought three gaming monitors and a Nintendo Switch … so there’s definitely support from the staff for gaming.”

    Arriaga’s passion for gaming comes from his love for competition. In recent years, esports continues to grow all over the world due to famous titles such as, “League of Legends,” “Fortnite” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.” These video game titles all share one trait in common: competition.

According to the Esports Ecosystems Report 2020, the esports market will likely surpass $1.5 billion in revenue by 2023. U.S. cities build esports arenas for tournaments. Esports gained mainstream media attention around the world. It’s an activity anyone can easily compete in, or spectate.

“As long as there are figureheads in the community, there is a chance that esports could grow into a prominent culture in any university,” Arriaga said.

Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez is well known within the “Super Smash Bros.” community. Lopez is one of the notable players who inspires many people to enter “Super Smash Bros.” tournaments around the world. He is a player who continues to dominate the “Super Smash Bros.” competitive scene by consistently taking major tournaments with prizes ranging up to thousands of dollars.

Arriaga embraces the passion for the “Super Smash Bros.” community on campus and hopes more interest will come in the future. Arriaga hosted several tournaments, including a few approved by TAMIU. The club hosted the Battle at the Border tournament in late July 2019. The tournament was stacked with more than 120 players in attendance, including talent from Arkansas and Honduras, competing for a grand prize of $600.

The success of the TAMIU Smash Club inspired various students to create more organizations of their own for esports. Students voiced interest in creating clubs for other games, such as “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”

The TAMIU Smash Club participated in a collegiate league in early 2019. Gavin “Cosmic” Gonzalez traveled with TAMIU Smash.

“Playing in the collegiate team was, honestly, a very fun experience,” Gonzalez said. “It felt just as if I was competing in another sport. Being able to represent my school along with traveling with good friends to these events—definitely something I’m going to remember.”

As one of the team’s dominant players, he eliminated nearly every member of Schreiner University’s team during the collegiate crew battles against other Texas universities.

“Having to come up with strategies and changing our lines up on the fly, to beat whoever we were up against, is something that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Gonzalez said. “Having your team and spectators cheer your team on was also a nice feeling.”

Arriaga hopes campus esports will take off to never-before-seen heights. Esports is something he believes should not be ignored or skimmed over and should be treated equally to traditional sports.

“Esports is easier to get into than many other sports but it’s just as hard to master, so we can see greater interest from people to enter esports at TAMIU due to the accessibility, compared to other sports,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga remains optimistic that TAMIU will continue to support the esports community and the TAMIU Smash Club for more semesters to come.

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Level up at LVL 2 Gaming

Level up at LVL 2 Gaming

By Ruben Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

LVL 2 Gaming offers experiences in trading cards, video games and more for its customers. The store features numerous tournaments and events.

From all kinds of video games, LVL 2 Gaming capitalizes on Laredo’s competitive gaming culture.

Regular patron Gregorio Resendez said LVL 2 Gaming gave him the opportunity to interact with more people and gain new hobby experiences.

“I didn’t live near any gaming stores, so my friends and I wouldn’t really have spots to hang outside of school,” Resendez said. 

Esports currently make considerable profit. LVL 2 Gaming hopes to keep improving the quality of entertainment and competition for its customers. The business hosts weekly tournaments for “Super Smash Bros.” and “Dragon Ball Z: Fighters” with small prize pools added as an incentive for players to join. It sparked an interest in tabletop gaming as well; Dungeons & Dragons sessions are held weekly at the store.

Co-owner Jesus Moreno said opening the business meant a lot to him.

“It was hard at first, but this was always a dream of mine as a kid,” Moreno said. “I used to walk into game shops at the mall and wished that one day I’d have a business of my own. I dedicated my adult life to business and my dream finally came true.”

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National Cheer Association event canceled, converted to online media

National Cheer Association event canceled, converted to online media

By Karina Mendoza
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

 This would have been the final countdown before TAMIU’s cheer and dance team took off for Daytona Beach, Florida. The teams were scheduled to compete in the National Cheer Association and National Dance Association Collegiate Championship competition, which was canceled due to the coronavirus.

“They’re not getting to compete at all and all practices have been canceled, as well,” assistant coach Rose Troche said.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted from the effects of the coronavirus. As a result, numerous events across the nation became canceled, including many Texas A&M International University functions.

“In order to help prevent the spread of the virus, it was in the best interest of the company, the city of Daytona and for the health of all participating athletes, coaches and supporters to cancel the competition,” coach Anyssa Salazar said.

According to varsity.com, the event’s officials created a way to showcase these students’ cheer and dance skills, via social media.

“We understand and appreciate the hard work, time and sacrifice that teams have put into preparing for the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship,” according to the website. “Due to the cancellation of the event, we would like to give teams the opportunity to receive special recognition.”

Varsity.com’s goal is “to highlight college teams from across the nation and give athletes the opportunity for all of their hard work to be recognized.”

The registered collegiate cheer and dance teams were able to upload videos of their skills via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and BAND from April 6 to 9.

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Residence halls‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌

Residence halls‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌

By Jorge‌ ‌Padilla‌
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

 ‌As the coronavirus spread at an exponential rate in March, the administration began taking precautionary measures to make sure campus residential students could self-isolate. The school asked students and faculty to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus, if traveling from other countries.

The Texas A&M International University residence halls received new hand-sanitizer dispensers on each floor to disinfect and help prevent the virus’ spread. Other upgrades‌ ‌occurred over the‌ ‌past‌ ‌three‌ ‌years.

As of March 30, faculty and staff converted the rest of the semester courses to online virtual environments to aid in social distancing. According to a TAMIU email sent to students and faculty, “Spectrum has created a program for students that will provide free Spectrum Broadband and WIFI Access for 60 days for those who do not already have internet access.”

The‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌pandemic resulted in caution from ‌the‌ ‌A&M‌ ‌system‌ as it implemented procedures, in accordance with the City of Laredo Health Department. One of those procedures includes the requirement of a facial mask in order to enter any University buildings; it also included the closing of the campus to those without necessary business. Some campus buildings are closed to students but the main ones, such as the Killam Library and the Student Center, are still open during modified working hours.

University‌ ‌Village resident Daniella Buentello ‌said ‌residence hall assistants‌ ‌made efforts so things could run as smoothly ‌as possible‌ ‌this‌ ‌semester.

“They‌ ‌have‌ ‌really‌ ‌been‌ ‌taking‌ ‌initiative‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌us‌ ‌out‌ ‌in‌ anything‌ ‌we‌ ‌might‌ ‌need,” Buentello said. “‌‌They‌ ‌have‌ ‌done‌ ‌so‌ ‌well‌ ‌to‌ ‌keep‌ ‌us‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌date‌ ‌with‌ ‌what‌ ‌the‌ ‌campus‌ ‌is‌ saying‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌coronavirus‌ ‌and‌ ‌helping‌ ‌everyone‌ ‌stay‌ ‌cautious‌ ‌and‌ ‌clean.”

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Inside the race for Mr., Ms. TAMIU

Inside the race for Mr., Ms. TAMIU

By Cesar Neira
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Reaching out to the student body is the most important part of their campaign strategy, a sentiment expressed by Mr. and Ms. TAMIU. Jose Alvarez and Abigail Zuniga received their crowns, an event that caps off the annual tradition of Texas A&M International University Spirit Week.

“It all starts with the urge to become more involved with the student body,” the 2020 candidates said of their campaign.

From Jan. 30 to Feb. 8, they utilized an interactive campaign strategy on the TAMIU campus to have a greater impact on the student body. Being able to meet and communicate with the student body was of the utmost importance in their campaign process, they said.

“We wanted to have as many interactions as we could with the student body,” Alvarez said. “To achieve this goal of ours, we decided to have, like, mini-events where we could meet everyone we could.”

 They designed the mini-events around the idea of the candidates being able to give back to the student body in order to create a positive atmosphere on campus.

“We just wanted to give back to our fellow students with a fun treat or game that could cheer them up or make their day,” Zuniga said. “Overall, we just wanted to be a positive figure in the day of our classmates.”

Alvarez and Zuniga held many events throughout the week.

“On the first Monday of the campaign, we had Mangonada Monday, where we gave out free mangonadas to whoever stopped by us,” Zuniga said. “On Tuesday, we had Taco Tuesday with the same concept as the prior event.”

In order to receive their free treat, students waited in line to be served by the candidates. The intent behind this strategy was not complicated.

“It didn’t take too much thought in making sure this was the correct way we wanted to approach the campaign,” Alvarez said. “We just wanted to put ourselves out there and get to know as many people as we could.”

The student lines waited to be served, showing how many people the candidates could meet.

“The strategy 100-percent worked the way we wanted it to,”Alvarez said. “As soon as we saw the smiles on our classmates’ faces, and the amount of people we met. We knew we had done it the right way.”

The candidates enjoyed the campaign and said they would do it all over again if they could.  Being crowned Mr. and Ms. TAMIU means becoming public faces of the University.

According to the TAMIU website, “During their yearlong reign, Mr. and Ms. TAMIU will represent TAMIU at University and community events, serving as ambassadors for The International U.”

The pair of campaign mates do not shy away from the responsibility of representing the University.

“There is a great responsibility in being crowned Mr. and Ms. TAMIU, but that is a responsibility we would love to have bestowed on us,” Zuniga said. “We want to take on this responsibility and represent the University in the best way we possibly can.”

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