Category: Academia

Spring graduation falls shy of fall semester

Spring graduation falls shy of fall semester

By David Gomez Jr.
Editor-in-chief
Published Monday, May 11, 2020 

This spring’s graduation occurs at the beginning of the fall semester on Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Sames Auto Arena, due to the pandemic.

On April 17, Texas A&M International University President Pablo Arenaz, appeared in a video in full regalia, in front of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts organ, speaking to the 50th graduating class in TAMIU history. He said the graduation ceremony, along with summer commencement exercises, would be postponed until mid-August before the start of the fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic affecting day-to-day routines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on life as we know it,” Arenaz told viewers of the video. “… The senior class of 2020, you have seen your last semester delivered online, and the traditions and celebrations that have always framed the senior year experience either canceled or postponed.”

Soon after saying so, Arenaz offered some good news that the postponed ceremony would still be held at the Sames Auto Arena, as so for the past four years.

“For we are TAMIU together, always,” Arenaz added.

Then around May 7, Arenaz spoke again in another video. This time in a full suit and tie, inside the Great Hall on the third floor of the Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library.

He brought up again the bittersweetness of graduation from the presentation of the flags representing various students’ countries, the student respondent speech’s heartfelt words and the roaring cannons of confetti that spray on the graduates.

Though, his new message was directly to the point–conferring of the students’ degrees.

“So by the authority vested in me, by the Chancellor, and by the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System, acting under the enabling legislation establishing this University, I hereby confer upon each of you the degree to which you are entitled with all its rights, privileges and responsibilities,” Arenaz said, concluding with “Congratulations!”

Arenaz then went on to say, “You have a bright future ahead of you. You have been prepared by outstanding faculty to enter the workforce, graduate or professional school …”

This message of good will was sent to all of the graduating class of 2020, but when unemployment currently resides at more than 20 percent due to the pandemic, Arenaz’s message falls on the fearful ears of job seekers.

“It … sucks,” former editor-in-chief of The Bridge and fall 2019 TAMIU graduate Matthew Balderas said about the current job market.

“I had one official job offer from a TV company and made it to second-round interviews with the Houston Astros and had just secured an interview with the Houston Dynamo right before they decided to suspend the sports season,” Balderas said.

“Unfortunately, the job offer and interviews fell through but I’m hoping once this is all over, I can backpack up where I left off, if at all possible.”

For some, Arenaz’s message of “graduate or professional school” might feel like a safer route.

“For now, I have entered into a master’s program with TAMIU for my MBA [with a] concentration of international business for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester,” Balderas said.

As of now, with businesses opening throughout Texas, and across the nation, no one knows what summer has in store.

“Our commitment on this is clear, but I must caution that we will not proceed should public health conditions force us to revisit the plan,” Arenaz said, regarding the rescheduled commencement.

“Class of 2020, I look forward to handing you your diplomas.”

For the latest updates, visit the dedicated commencement website at www.tamiu.edu/commencment/

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$4.75 million TAMIU CARES Program grants emergency funds to students

$4.75 million TAMIU CARES Program grants emergency funds to students

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published Monday, May 4, 2020

On April 24, TAMIU announced it will give emergency grants to students thanks to the TAMIU CARES Program. These funds could begin disbursing to applicants as early as May 8.

As one of the many universities which received this emergency grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act approved by the Department of Education, Texas A&M International University was awarded $9 million. This amount was based on the number of students enrolled who qualify for the Pell Grant and those who do not. According to the CARES Act, the money would be split in half so $4.75 million will go to the university and the other half provided to students in the form of grants, refunds, loan forgiveness or campus-based waivers.

TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz said this emergency aid would help students directly affected by COVID-19.

“Thousands of TAMIU students and their families have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Arenaz began in an email sent to students, faculty and staff. “ Some students may even be questioning their ability to continue their degree dream. The availability of this assistance will be a welcome relief and we are thankful to our congressional delegation for their leadership on this.”

Those interested may look up additional information at https://www.tamiu.edu/cares/.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge Photo Illustration
A TAMIU student reviews the TAMIU CARES Emergency Funds website for the spring semester.

Because of this aid, the University set up the TAMIU CARES Emergency Fund. The money would go directly into the form of emergency grants distributed during the spring, summer and fall semesters for 2020. In order to access these grants, students must apply through an online application. TAMIU requested students apply through this application with supporting documentation of unforeseen hardships due to COVID-19, which include: food insecurity, urgent medical expenses, utility bills, school expenses, and on-campus and off-campus housing. Other requirements may apply.

In addition, students must have a FAFSA file with TAMIU or be eligible for Title IV student assistance.  TAMIU Finance Director Laura Elizondo said TAMIU has 5,760 students who currently meet Title IV eligibility and can qualify for this grant. However, some students have not started or completed their FAFSA, so that number might increase or change. As of last week, about 1,478 students applied but numbers continue to increase.

Elizondo said she and the committee in charge of the TAMIU CARES Program are looking closely at the applications and said all details are important in determining whether a student is eligible for the grant. She said some applications show students focused on their needs for the spring semester, while others did not.

“There’s a lot of students who are submitting, ‘I need help in the summer for tuition,, well this is not the summer right now,” she said. “Anybody who’s submitting right now for applications for summer or next fall they will close up the application and let the students know at this time we’re not processing summer applications. You need to wait and come back and apply later in May. Right now, we have to concentrate and pay out our spring needs.”

She said they are focusing on students who expressed urgent need of funds.

“If you do not own a computer and now you have to work from home and you use a credit card to purchase a computer, that’s a perfect item that we can help reimburse you for,” Elizondo said. “If you do not have internet at home and now you have to add it, that is a perfect item that we can help you pay for. So some students are giving us a lot of [information] while others are not saying much.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge Photo Illustration
A TAMIU student reviews the TAMIU CARES Emergency Funds website for the spring semester.

Moreover, she said if a student does not submit enough documentation for a claim, the committee will contact that student with an email or mobile phone number on file and allow them 48 hours to resubmit any photos of bills or proof to tamiucares@tamiu.edu and someone there will upload the documents for them onto their application.

Elizondo said the first round of funds will go out at the end of the week, possibly May 8 and onward.

For those who do not receive any money for the spring semester, they can still apply for the summer and fall if they are enrolled for classes. The summer application opens up on May 18 and August 17 for fall. Elizondo said summer applications will process through the end of May, June, July and even August because of the different summer sessions students might be enrolled.

She also said it is extremely important for students to apply because this money goes directly to them.

“Students don’t have to confirm what they use [the money] for,” Elizondo said. “If the student said they need it because x,y, z and then they get the money and something else happens and they need it for something else, that is their prerogative. They decide. They don’t have to come back and give us any type of proof of what they used it for.”

A BankMobile account is recommended in order to receive the funds. She encourages people to be patient and know that the University is doing everything it can to help the students during this time.

In addition, students can still apply for other grants like the Student Emergency Grant, the Texas A&M University System Emergency Regent’s Grant and the Lamar Bruni Vergara Emergency Fund—all with their own eligibility requirements.

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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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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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‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

By Andrea Martinez
Bridge contributing writer
Published March 30, 2020

Near the U.S.-Mexico border, there are high numbers of unknown dead migrants. These migrants are buried in trash bags in forgotten unmarked graves.

Professor Kate Spradley, a forensic anthropologist at Texas State University, presented “Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert” at TAMIU. She quoted Sheriff Martinez of Brooks County, Texas, “For every person found, there are at least five that are not found.”

Spradley said Brooks County is recognized as “Death Valley” for all the migrants passing through. It is a little further from the border; however, it bears the highest migrant death toll for Texas border towns since 2009. They bury the unknown migrants in the Sacred Heart Burial Park. Most were found in trash bags—about 12 migrants in one grave. They were also buried along with personal belongings and trash.

“Until 2013, people were buried and forgotten in unmarked graves in Brooks County,” Spradley said.

She said Arizona’s medical examiner tries to identify the victims and contact each family. In Webb County, there is a medical examiner; however, they also try to help six other counties in this assessment, making the work more difficult.

One of the other counties the medical examiner takes care of is Cameron and Willacy counties. Spradley investigated the site with her students and they found that when they were told they would find 31 buried bodies, they found up to 70 instead.

In Cameron and Willacy counties, they have paupers’ graves, along with migrants, buried in the middle of nowhere. Paupers are people who died and could not afford proper funerals; however, they lived in the U.S. and likely died of natural causes. Spradley said her team could tell the difference because of the way they are buried. Migrants are kind of just thrown into trash bags with their personal belongings and maybe some trash. Paupers’ graves, on the other hand, are buried with a certain position and are placed more carefully.

When she removed personal belongings found in the graves, she and her team washed them and tried to see if there was anything to help identify the body.

“People carry a variety of things with them when they migrate,” Spradley said. “Personal effects are key for family.”

She mentioned a story of a migrant who died and his sister recognized his shoes and that is how she was able to place a name on the recovered body.

“What about the unidentified bodies that were cremated and the ashes were mishandled?” history major Joshua Grajeda asked Spradley during a Q&A, following her presentation.

“Texas Court of Federal Procedures … you are not allowed to cremate unidentified remains but about five years ago in the health and safety code, they put in there that you can … when approved by a county judge,” Spradley responded.

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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.

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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.”

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Meet TAMIU’s Sixth President, Dr. Pablo Arenaz

By Danny Zaragoza

A procession filled the stage with college and university delegates, faculty and student representatives in full regalia at the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts auditorium on April 13, 2017 for an Investiture Ceremony held to install TAMIU’s 6th president.

Continue reading “Meet TAMIU’s Sixth President, Dr. Pablo Arenaz”

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Philosophy Society Hosts Guest Lecture

The TAMIU Philosophy Society is continuing last semester’s theme of Philosophy of Art to encourage discourse among students who are interested in the nature of art, its origins, purpose, myriad forms, standards of assessment, effects on the individual and society at large, and ends.

Continue reading “Philosophy Society Hosts Guest Lecture”

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TAMIU Expanding its Horizons

By Kassandra Juarez

With technology being a huge party of our lives today, many students want to pursue a career that falls into that category, such as Systems Engineering.

 

 

Here in Laredo Texas, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) offers a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering which is a great option for students who would then like to purse a career in that field.

Continue reading “TAMIU Expanding its Horizons”

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