Category: Features

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.”


Golfer showcases talent on green with every swing

Golfer showcases talent on green with every swing

By Gabriella Prather
Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020

At a young age, her life altered when a sport gravitated to her and it changed everything, Natchawan Serisamran, a TAMIU senior golfer.

Serisamran majors in psychology and minors in computer science. She is originally from Bangkok, Thailand, and decided to come to Texas A&M International University because of the hot weather Laredo has to offer, so she can play year-round golf. She was introduced to golf by her parents, who were players as well and she decided to give it a shot and play.

Since beginning, she found a coach who helped her hone her game her for 12 years. Coach Kitipong Srithongkul said he is one of the top-10 golf coaches in the country. He coached PGA players and an Asian tour. Since age 8, Serisamran played golf for 14 years; now, at 22, she says she couldn’t imagine her life without the sport.

Even when the University coach took a day off for the team, Serisamran thought otherwise.

“I felt like my day was waste[d] and I didn’t do nothing,” Serisamran said.

While golfing, she said she feels extremely comfortable yet not overconfident. She said being an athlete made her a better person and prepared her mentally and emotionally, not just for herself but also her teammates. While under pressure, she said it is always best to distract herself from her surroundings so she can focus on what happens and on the game itself.

Regarding the importance of her becoming a student athlete, she says the benefits of being on time, pushing herself hard on the green and, most importantly, working harder to maintain the grades and her GPA—because without them, she wouldn’t be where she is.

“Being a student athlete is tough,” Serisamran said. “You need to manage your time nicely ’cause you don’t have [as] much time as normal students.

“Do what your first priorities are.”

Gabriella Prather | Bridge
TAMIU golf player Natchawan Serisamran of Bangkok, Thailand, poses for a photo.

Serisamran said her favorite golf player, Jordan Alexander Spieth, inspired her to become the athlete she wants to become. Spieth, a creative player, began at a young age and reached the top at a rapid pace—eventually making a name for himself in the world of golf.

She is one of TAMIU’s youngest athletes and the thought of her playing for an entire decade might be difficult for some to comprehend yet it might inspire others to push themselves as she did.

“It’s important that golf, or whatever sport is your priority, don’t give up whatever happens,” Serisamran said. “You will be treated well and you will have your team to support you and aim for the goals that best suit you the best.”

In the 2018 UH-Victoria Fall Classic, Serisamran took 5th place with cards of 16over-160 and 3-over-75. On the Oklahoma Intercollegiate, she four-way tied for 11th place after carding a 10-over-152. She took 15th place at the Jack Brown Memorial.


New Volleyball Coach Joins TAMIU

New volleyball coach joins TAMIU

By Itzel Luna
Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020

After a 6-19 overall record for the 2019 volleyball season at Laredo College, Brittany Harry has been named coach of the Dustdevils. Harry comes into TAMIU with 14 years experience.

Director of Athletics Griz Zimmermann looks forward to Harry’s addition.

“I am confident that the best days of our program are ahead of us, and I believe that Harry is the right person to take us there,” Zimmermann said in an interview with TAMIU athletics.

Harry’s last five seasons at Laredo College accumulated an 84-65 record. Before that, she served as volleyball coach at Vincennes University for three seasons; her team took an 88-38 record throughout the seasons.

Harry coached four players to All-Region honors and two players to the Region XII All-Tournament team.

She also coached at Spartanburg Methodist College in Region X, in South Carolina, and led her team in back-to-back appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Championships.

“We are looking forward to her bringing her success with her here to our volleyball program,” Zimmermann said in an interview with TAMIU athletics.

Despite previous seasons, Harry is optimistic for 2020.

“I’m fired up for the fall already,” Harry said.

“This is a growing and learning process.”

Courtesy | TAMIU Athletics
New TAMIU volleyball coach Brittany Harry

She said the team is getting used to coaching transition.

Within the last month of practicing with the team, Harry says she loves the energy from this group of women.

“I definitely get a good vibe from this group,” she said. The team is working hard in the gym, she adds, and feels like they really want to improve.

Despite the less-than-stellar 2019 record, Harry feels the Dustdevils crave more.

“They’re definitely not satisfied with their results, so I do feel like they’re hungry in the gym, and [they’re working on] strength and conditioning to really make enough progress,” she said.

Implementing a new tool to help players stay in shape over breaks is a factor in their 2020 progress.

She wants to provide physical, mental toughness challenges, and a nutrition log that can be completed over the summer break so players can be held to a standard to remain focused.

“Hopefully this challenge will help them stay a little bit more accountable over the summer with workouts,” she said.

Sophomore middle hitter Anna Smith said Harry’s coaching style is energetic.

“She’s here to work, and she’s ready to get things done.” Smith said. She adds that Harry pushes the team to get better. “[Coach says,] ‘Every single ball is an opportunity to be better.’”

Smith said Harry pushes them to a higher standard.


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.


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.”


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.


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Student staff of The Bridge receives honors

During its end-of-semester dinner and awards, several members of The Bridge Independent Student Newspaper Fall 2019 staff were honored for their journalistic work on the paper. The event was held Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 11, at Cheddar’s restaurant in Laredo, Texas.

In addition, promotions were announced: Current Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas graduates tomorrow, Dec. 12, and current Staff Writer David Gomez Jr. was promoted tonight to become the new editor-in-chief. Current Staff Writer Erick Barrientos was also promoted to the rank of Managing Editor. While both are fairly new to college journalism, they have stepped up to the plate and worked well as a team. In addition to her continuing duties, Director of Photography Jessica Rodriguez will also be picking up the mantle of Director of Social Media for The Bridge. Current Staff Writer Nayelle Acosta steps up to join the newspaper design staff. Current Bridge Illustrator Tomas Cruz will be shifting positions to focus on monetization as the new Advertising Director for The Bridge. Jennifer Rodriguez joins the staff as a photographer. Brandon Valdez joins the staff to help with social media.

The Bridge Hall of Fame Inductee for Fall 2019: Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas, “For his long-standing service to The Bridge from rookie reporter in 2017 to editor-in-chief and chief designer in 2019, for helping grow the student newspaper and journalism program at TAMIU, and for his countless hours behind the curtain, performing the magic.”

  • The Bridge Best Rookie for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Deadline Management for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Reporter of the Semester: Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Photographer of the Semester: Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Editorial for Fall 2019: “Is 33 larger than 39,773? … asking for a friend” by Matthew Balderas
  • The Bridge Best Opinion Column for Fall 2019: “Our ol’ payphone reflects past, present, future” by David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Illustration for Fall 2019: “Are you still listening?” by Tomas Cruz
  • The Bridge Best Photo Illustration for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best News Story for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best News Photo for Fall 2019: “Climate strike raises environmental issues” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Story for Fall 2019: “Goodbye to a dear friend” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Photo for Fall 2019: “Dance concert displays student creativity” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Story for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Allan Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Photo for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Matthew Balderas


Language professors bring a world of knowledge to students

For some students, learning a foreign language can be an exciting endeavor and an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of other cultures. For others, it can be a daunting task filled with anxiety and frustration.

The language faculty at Texas A&M International University includes several dedicated and patient instructors, including Julien and Melody Carrière, assistant professors of French and Italian.

Continue reading “Language professors bring a world of knowledge to students”