Day: September 14, 2020

ALUMNI SUCCESSES: Alumnus lives TAMIU international mission, makes impact

ALUMNI SUCCESSES: Alumnus lives TAMIU international mission, makes impact

By Matthew Balderas
Bridge Ombudsman
Published Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profile articles on the successes of various TAMIU alumni, written by a TAMIU alumnus who recently returned to his alma mater to work on a graduate degree. Matthew Balderas is also a former editor-in-chief of The Bridge.]

First-generation college graduate Osvaldo “Ozzy” Guzman describes getting accepted into TAMIU as one of his family’s most significant accomplishments. After graduation, he continues to raise that bar ever higher.

“I had taken a lot of the experiences that I had undergone in my undergraduate studies,” Guzman said. “I got to be exposed to a lot of leadership [and] I got a lot of opportunities to expand on my abilities personally and professionally. Once I graduated, I headed off for Istanbul, Turkey, where I ran a camp as an English mentor and a camp coordinator and worked with around 25 to 27 students at a time in multiple locations.”

Photo courtesy Osvaldo Guzman

Seeing the impact an English-speaking mentor added for his students, his desire to continue to be a resource for others grew.

“I was able to see first-hand how outside-the-classroom teaching impacted students,” Guzman said. “That idea came further into fruition following Istanbul, Turkey, because I then went to a country in Southeast Asia called the Republic Timor-Leste, where I served as a teacher-trainer and a teacher for the United States Peace Corps.”

Even though he graduated with a degree in business administration and a concentration in international economics, Guzman describes teaching as an integral component of his character and who he is.

Photo courtesy Osvaldo Guzman

“In 2015, I left for my first internship in Washington, D.C., and discovered diversity in so many areas: in people, in different ideals, in different value systems,” he said. “When I came back to Laredo, I was more passionate than ever to spread that enthusiasm to other students. 

“Since that moment, I had returned … I had a self-driven purpose to show other students what I saw and felt.” 

He accomplished this by founding ALPHA, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, on campus and began a mentorship program for the Laredo community.

“With ALPHA, we not only went to national conferences … where the experiences allowed for not only myself but for my team to be more well-rounded leaders … that followed on to the idea of, ‘How else can we take what we learned and bring it forward to the community?’” Guzman recalled. “That led to creating mentorship seminars between student leaders at the University and students at the high school level.”

Photo courtesy Osvaldo Guzman

The transition from mentoring students in English proficiency in the U.S. to abroad was smooth, but Guzman never predicted the rough patch that laid ahead.

“I was working with host country nationals on putting forward a community grant project where we would secure more technology for the school as we had already done the year before … [and] maximize our time together to create more resources for teachers and students,” Guzman said. “[Upon leaving that meeting,] I had just received a call about an evacuation that was going on, which was the direct effect from COVID.

“We needed to evacuate immediately from Timor-Leste and, moreover that, it wasn’t just us–the Peace Corps community in Timor-Leste–it was Peace Corps global.”

Although his teaching experience was cut short due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, he realizes teachers’ fear of being in the classroom is real and offers advice.

“One of the things that really made our jobs just a little tougher was the access and inaccessibility to resources,” Guzman said. “My advice for teachers would be to maximize your resources; we have some of the most advanced technology in the world, here in the United States. I encourage teachers to use all of it.”

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Prestigious conference awards TAMIU psychology graduate students

Prestigious conference awards TAMIU psychology graduate students

By Angela K. Carranza
Assistant Editor

Published Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

Five TAMIU students recently earned recognition from one of the highest professional organizations in their chosen career field.

From Aug. 6-9, the American Psychology Association held its yearly conference which included five TAMIU Master of Counseling Psychology graduate students who won poster awards.

Evelyn Campos and Alejandro Flores received Division 49’s Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Poster of the Year Award for promoting diversity and social justice. Their poster was called “Psychoeducational Groups for Latinos: Group Cohesion’s Influence on Fostering Safe Learning Environments.”

Alyssa Vera, Ivette Soto and Rebeca Salazar won Division 27’s Society for Community Research and Action Poster Award for their work titled, “A Stress Management Psychoeducational Group for Latinos: Outcomes and Cultural Factors Contributing to Group Cohesion.”

“Our students worked incredibly hard, [and] doing qualitative research is very taxing and time consuming,” Assistant Professor of psychology Ediza Garcia said. “Our students took data from 2,640 personal responses which were then transcribed and coded into a thematic analysis. So, [these projects took] an [immense] amount of hours [to complete].”

Garcia also serves as MACP program director, where she mentors psychology graduate students like Poster of the Year Award co-recipient Campos.

“We did a lot of research on what works better for Latino college students,” Campos said. “The fact that there is a lack of research [when it comes to Latinos in higher education] is outstanding and very important because I feel that Latinos in higher education is a growing population and there is not a lot of help curated to Latinos in the United States.

“As students of the MACP program, we are all trying to be there and offer support for Latino students in higher education.”

The effects of these projects will be reflected in the coming years and are intended to help other students.

“My most favorite part about this project is just being able to be there for these students and being able to let them know that they can come to a place where they feel safe,” Campos said. “[They] can tell us how they feel, knowing that their sessions are confidential and will be used to help future individuals.”

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CARES Act provides campus loaner laptops

CARES Act provides campus loaner laptops

By Gabriela Chapa
Bridge Staff Intern

Published Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

Purchasing 500 laptops for its new Student Loaner Laptop Program, TAMIU helps students continue course attendance during the fall semester.

As the times continue to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the return to face-to-face classes, Texas A&M International University released a new program where students can check out a laptop for the semester.

The Student Loaner Laptop Program was created through the TAMIU CARES Program with the goal of helping students who struggle with technology and want to continue their classes. TAMIU purchased these devices that are being distributed to students. Students enrolled in both Fall and Spring semesters will be able to keep the computer until the completion of their academic year on May 15.

Gabriela Chapa | Bridge
Biology major Monica Molina tests out one of the University’s laptops similar to the loaner Dell models on Sept. 3 in the Zaffirini Student Success Center.

This program is first-come first-serve and the application is now open for students to apply. The Office of Outreach will review applications and devices will be distributed after the 20th day of classes on Sept. 18. The students are welcome to apply anytime during the semester. The program will be open to students as long as devices are available. The laptops will be equipped with most of the software students need, including Microsoft Office, and the Office of Informational Technology will be there for whatever issues students might have. The laptop model for this program will be the Dell 3410, which is compact and portable for students to easily carry it around campus or move around their homes.

Scheiby González Fisher, executive director of TAMIU Outreach and Pre-College Programs, said this initiative was a way to help students persist during these difficult times.

“This is an initiative that the University decided to pursue for the students,” Fisher said. “It is something that TAMIU decided [jt] wanted to do to help students, especially considering the situation we are dealing with, with technology issues. We know that there are students that don’t have either … [a] working device or don’t have devices period, so the University decided [it] wanted to go ahead and purchase this equipment. The equipment was purchased with TAMIU CARES funds. With CARES, at the end of the day, we are trying to help and give back to the students.”

Gabriela Chapa | Bridge
The University’s new loaner Dell laptops receive a software update on Sept. 3 as they are prepared for students in the OIT office in the Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library.

TAMIU CARES Act funds are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020. This more than $2 trillion economic relief package is intended to protect U.S. citizens from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website treasury.gov.

Interested students may submit their application by visiting the website go.tamiu.edu/laptop. Additional information may be learned from the Office of TAMIU Outreach and Pre-College Program at (956) 326- 2700 or email outreach@tamiu.edu.

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