July 17th, 2014
When the U.S. first passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women throughout the country were earning 59 cents for every dollar a male made. Today, that has increased to 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The “gender wage gap” has narrowed, but it has not vanished. A study released by personal finance information website NerdWallet in June suggests that wage equality might actually depend on the city.
The “gender pay gap” refers to the difference in average income between men and women. According to the Department of Justice, one of the factors in women earning less than men is that there are a lack of accommodating work arrangements. This can apply to all employees, but affects more women who have dependent children.
NerdWallet analyzed 522 U.S. cities and determined the best places for women to work. Of the 522 cities, Pharr was ranked number one as the best small city for working women and Edinburg was number four.
Other cities on the list include Sandy Springs, Ga., in the second ranking, followed by Hesperia, Calif., in third.
The cities were broken down into three categories: large, medium and small. There were 61 large cities with populations of more than 300,000, 241 medium cities with populations of from 100,000 to 300,000 and 220 small cities with populations under 100,000.
NerdWallet included the median salaries for male and female full-time and year-round workers, “median gross rent,” population growth and other statistics from the Census Bureau American Community Survey. “Median gross rent” is the monthly rent agreed or contracted for in addition to the estimated monthly cost of utilities.
All the cities analyzed for the study were based on census data. UTPA Economics Professor Marie Mora was not surprised that two Valley cities made the grade list, saying that she was excited to have the area on a list of something positive for a change.
“To me what it means is that (the Valley) is a friendly place for women to work and that the same type of barriers that women might be facing in other cities might not be present here,” Mora said. “The numbers also suggest that there may be a lot of opportunities for women.”
According to the website, Pharr was placed at the top due to female employees earning 112 percent of a man’s average income. Rent was below the national average as a result of the 10 percent increase of population from 2009 to 2011. NerdWallet reported the average household median at $631 a month.
“This area is definitely one of the fastest growing cities in the entire country,” Mora said. “It’s not just in the state, so that does bode well in terms of future job opportunities.”
Pharr’s median income for full-time female employees came in at $29,189. Sandy Springs was next in the ranking with $46,432 and Hesperia with $36,880. The median income for Edinburg came in at $50,051. Edinburg was ranked in the top five because of a 12 percent increase in population since 2012, low rental costs and strong income equality between men and women. NerdWallet reported $651 as the city’s median gross rent and women’s earnings as a percentage to men’s is about 94 percent.
NerdWallet reported the numbers of working women in the U.S. has steadily increased in the past 50 years, growing from 29 percent to nearly 50 percent. In 1960, one in 10 mothers in the country were the sole or primary “breadwinner”. In 2011, that number went up to four in every 10. A “breadwinner” is a person who earns money to support a family.
“It surprises me to see how different things were just a short 50 years ago,” said Marilynn Feria, a UTPA junior political science major. “It’s amazing to think that if I had been born at a different time my life would be completely different as a woman in the workforce. Of course, I’m proud and glad that many women having been pushing to see these changes and have been striving for the opportunities and gratification of being self-sufficient.”
According to Feria, the ranking came as a surprise to her but she’s happy to see the number of women in the workforce increasing.
“It did surprise me, but in a good way,” Feria said. “These are the things that I like to see our home cities recognized for. It means that people are taking the initiative to provide equal opportunity to both sexes, especially in an area with very conservative views.”
NerdWallet reported education, trade, transportation, health services, utilities and the government as being the industries with the biggest presence in Edinburg. The city’s largest employers are UTPA, Edinburg Regional Medical Center, Hidalgo County and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corp.
Mora stated that she has never sensed negative feelings against Valley women who work at different businesses and believes it is because Edinburg is a family-friendly city.
“I’ve always believed that women are just as capable and responsible and have the same amount of vision and passion as men do for work,” Mora said. “So it never has made sense to me that women would earn less for equal work.”
July 17th, 2014
This June marked five years since the U.S. economy ended its longest recession since World War II and local people have taken note. According to an analysis by personal finance information website NerdWallet, two of the top 10 most improved cities in the country are in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Great Recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research which determines the beginning and end of U.S. recessions.
Using data from NBER, as well as figures from the labor and housing markets, NerdWallet compared changes in unemployment, household income and home values among 510 U.S. cities. The study determined that the most improved city in the nation was McAllen. Edinburg came in ninth.
The median household income from 2009 to 2012 in McAllen increased by 31.69 percent, the second highest rate of any city in the country. According to NerdWallet, McAllen tops the list because of that growth in income – in addition to a nearly 16 percent increase in median home value.
James Boudreau, an assistant professor of economics at the University, said he thinks the ranking is a reflection of the positive things that are happening in the Valley and credits the rankings to its residents.
“People generate economic activity and the Valley has seen its population grow quite a bit over the last decade,” said Boudreau, who has been at UTPA for five years. “I’m not sure of the exact ranking, but the McAllen metro area ranks quite highly in terms of population growth as compared to other places in the U.S. It also helps that the Valley’s population is on average quite young and young people tend to do more spending than older folks.”
McAllen had an unemployment rate of 4.35 percent along with a 31.69 percent increase in median household income. The national unemployment rate in April was 6.3 percent. There was also a 15.61 percent change in median home value. “Median house household income” refers to the income level earned by a given household. The national unemployment rate is 6.1 as of June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Many places in the U.S. are experiencing negative growth, so in comparison this is obviously very good news,” Boudreau said. “The Valley is young, vibrant and growing… People sometimes disparage the Valley unfairly, as if it’s a small town or somehow inconsequential. To the contrary, I believe it’s one of the more up-and-coming places in the U.S.”
Eight of the top 10 cities on the list are in Texas, including Midland, San Angelo, Bryan, College Station, Odessa and Amarillo.
Edinburg’s most important factor was median household income. With a nearly 20 percent increase in the three-year period, median home value also grew by 6.50 percent.
Carlos Ramos, a business finance major, said that having Edinburg and McAllen beside larger cities like Washington, D.C. -which was the most improved largest city among the 50 analyzed – has the potential to spark interest in more individuals.
“As you drive around you can see various business and plazas opening up or being constructed and there is definitely growth,” the 20-year-old said. “I know it will take time but I’m sure Edinburg and McAllen will continue to grow to become big cities.”
According to NerdWallet, since the end of the recession in 2009, Edinburg has seen improvements in its workforce and housing market. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation reported that since 2008 most local jobs are in education and health services, with the city’s school district and regional medical center as the top employers.
“It does bring a sense of pride seeing your city’s name on that list,” Ramos said. “It feels like the small town I grew up with is starting to become something bigger.
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas added more than 56,000 jobs in May. In addition, unemployment in Texas dropped to 5.1 percent. In a press release published June 20 Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Texas continues to be the epicenter of job creation in the U.S. He also said Texas is the best place in the country to find a job.
Boudreau, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in spring 2009 stated that continuing positive demographic trends, along with the boost the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley will provide, should mean things will keep improving in the Valley. The new university will have a large impact to the region’s economic growth and job market and is expected to add thousands of jobs to the region, according to a Project South Texas report.
“It may sound cliché, but the Valley has a young, dynamic population and that’s why it’s growing,” Boudreau said. “I would say it’s a very good thing both in terms of what it says about current population and what it means for the population’s future.”
July 1st, 2014
The UTPA baseball team has signed Correy Davis to a National Letter of Intent for the 2014-15 academic year June 16.
The Aubrey, TX native is coming to the Rio Grande Valley as a junior having previously played two seasons with the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos. While at NMMI Davis primarily played in the first baseman’s position for both seasons.
While at NMMI he held a .375 batting average, with 17 doubles, 48 runs scored, three triples and 42 RIB with three home runs. Davis also comes to the Broncs with 13 stolen bases, surpassing UTPA senior Alex Howe. He held the team record for the 2014 season for the most stolen bases standing at 12.
He has improved his performance since his freshman year at NMMI, originally hitting .261 with five doubles, three triples and one home run to his name. He had a 31 RBI, 21 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
“Correy is a terrific young man who also happens to be an excellent baseball player,” Head Baseball Coach Manny Mantrana said. “(He) is a middle of the line-up type…who can really hit. His baseball abilities and character will be a great asset to our team.”
June 28th, 2014
After a brief hesitation, UTPA student Samantha Herrera takes a quick breath to compose herself, then begins telling the audience at the patio of McAllen’s Cordoba Cafe of her coming out experience.
This was the scene at the LGBT Pride Speak-Out event, which took place at 1303 N. 10th St. The function was hosted by several UTPA organizations including UTPA’s Feminist Club, which Herrera is a member of. The gathering was held in June to commemorate Pride Month, a month-long celebration to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots. According to the Library of Congress, the Stonewall Riots were a series of protests at a Manhattan gay bar following a police raid, and the event is considered to be a major tipping point in the fight for LGBT equality.“My aunt and uncle, who I was living with at the time in Edinburg, were Baptist ministers so I wasn’t going to tell them,” the 22-year-old English major said to the hushed crowd June 22. “I didn’t feel safe to tell anyone about my identity as a queer woman until I went away from home to Michigan for my freshman year of college.”
The LGBT Pride Speak-Out included a viewing of the film Antes Dios, Todos Somos Familia, or Before God, We Are All a Family. The 2013 film consists of interviews with several openly gay Catholic LGBT members and their families who talk about how they balance their religion and their sexuality. Following the viewing was an “open mic,” where audience members were invited to take the stage and talk about their experiences with homosexuality.
For Herrera, the open mic was the first time she had come out publicly, an experience she said was as scary as it was empowering. She was motivated to do so to celebrate her identity and inspire others to do the same.
“We don’t come out just once. First, we have to come out to ourselves, then to our family and friends, then we have to do it whenever someone asks us,” she explained. “As long as we create a space where we’re proud of ourselves, then I’m going to keep doing it.”
The UTPA chapter of the Texas Freedom Network helped organize LGBT Pride Speak-Out. Texas Freedom Network is a liberal organization whose members seek to protect individual liberties and religious freedom. Ruben Garza, a field organizer for the group, was on hand at the event.
“We’re trying to get the message across that there’s a community of acceptance right here in the (Rio Grande) Valley, especially since down here it’s a predominant Catholic and ‘machismo’ culture,” said the 2013 UTPA Mexican-American studies and political science alumnus. “We want to create a space of understanding, unity, acceptance and visibility, especially since some events happening [in Texas] may not inspire hope for LGBT citizens.”
The Edinburg native was referring to several events that happened in Texas this past month that have gained national attention. These include a family court judge in Tarrant County, located in Fort Worth, denying parental rights to the biological twin boys of a homosexual couple, as well as the Texas Republican Party recently voting to adopt a platform that supports “reparative therapy” for gays.
Reparative therapy, otherwise known as “conversion therapy” according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a form of treatment that seeks to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality. The APA and other organizations oppose this therapy because it is based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or that people can change their orientation, which the APA declassified in 1974.
According to The Washington Post, since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal recognition to married same-sex couples last year, seven more states have legalized same-sex marriage. This has raised the number total number of states that recognize same-sex unions to 19. The rest of the 31 states have a same-sex marriage ban and have pending lawsuits challenging the ruling as unconstitutional, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
After the event, which had approximately 25 attendees, Garza admitted that there was a missed opportunity due to the video screening and its intended audience.
“Most of the attendees were college-aged students who may have probably severed all ties with the church,” he said. “We wanted to invite several people, including the older generation, to make the movie relatable to them since they went through the same thing as the parents in the film, but we can always improve that for our next event.”
Lorena Singh, a community advocate for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, also attended the open mic. She quoted a 2009 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that surveyed 7,000 13 to 21-year-old LGBT students and the violent experiences they’ve faced because of their sexual orientation. According to the study, one in five LGBT students is a victim of physical assault in school.
“We need to be able to do better than this,” the 43-year-old UTPA alumna said. “We need to show the LGBT youth that they do have support available and they should never have to be afraid just because of who they are.”
Other Pride events included the third annual Pride March hosted by the campus group the UTPA LGBT alliance. The march was held Friday, June 27 in the C-1 parking lot at UTPA at 5:30 p.m.
Categories: Arts & Life
May 13th, 2014
One double header and 18 innings in the 100 degree heat had the Bronc baseball team striving for every strikeout and hit. But May 11 senior outfielder Andy Fortuna hit his first career home run during the final at bat of the series against the Sacramento State Hornets. The home run took the Broncs to a score of 2-0, taking the win against the Hornets at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.
The Broncs played the Hornets May 9-11. They took a loss during the first game of the series. Originally the game was scheduled May 9 but was cut short due to weather, forcing the team to play a doubleheader May 10.
The Broncs were ahead 1-0, at the end of third but the Hornets took the lead. They scored three runs in the seventh, bringing UTPA pitcher, Sam Street his first and only loss in a year.
Despite the loss, Street remains optimistic. They have time to complete one more series and they are ready to finish out the season.
“Right now we are just looking forward to our last Western Athletic Conference tournament,” Street said. “That’s the next thing on the mind…fun times ahead.”
With the loss behind them, the Broncs completed their doubleheader May 10. Blake English, junior pitcher, took the mound in place of Street. English pitched a shutout, allowing only four hits, leading the Broncs to a decisive victory over the Hornets in the second game of the series, 2-0. English retired eight batters before hitting one and allowing for a walk to first. He retired another nine batters until the Hornets bunted the ball in the seventh.
The Broncs were then tied during the series 1-1, but Street knew he and his teammates could finish up the rest of the series.
“This just shows the group of guys we got,” Street said. “It is really exciting going forward into the postseason, (it goes to show) how successful we could be and I think we will be.”
Finally on senior night, May 11, the Broncs walked onto the field for their last home game of the series and season. Facing off against the Hornets for the last time made the game a back and forth stalemate, neither team allowing for any major plays to be made.
But in the ninth inning everything changed. Fortuna was up at bat, two Broncs before him had struck out and he was the last. After two balls and a miss, Fortuna swung high and left hitting his first home run of his career.
The game ended with a score of 2-0, for the Broncs. The crowd and the team went wild as Fortuna did a slow jog toward third base, losing his helmet in the process and meeting his teammates who waited for him at the home plate.
“It couldn’t have come at a better moment,” Fortuna said. “Bottom of the ninth, no runs. We needed it, we were already tired and for it to come at the moment was perfect.”
Though talent and hard work can’t be discounted, according to Fortuna, something else was at play. The team pulled out all the stops for their last home game and used all of their supernatural arsenal, all in the name of luck.
“We tried everything,” Fortuna said. “The water hose, we tried waking up the bats, we tried the worms, we tried changing our secret spots. We pulled out everything this game and sometimes that is what you have to do.”
In addition to the teams rituals, Fortuna, said he was using infielder Brian Ramirez’s bat, whose batting average is at .262 with a season total of 172 run batted ins.
“I give credit to his pop,” Fortuna said. “The ball just jumped off the bat and kept going.”
The Broncs have only one more series, facing off against Northern Colorado University in Greenly, Col. May 16. They will then head off to the WAC Tournament Championships and represent UTPA in Meza, Ariz. May 21-25.
April 3rd, 2014
Lost to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 15-7 April 2 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.
Junior Melissa Bernal finished in a tie for 17th place at the Husky Invitational April 1 at the Riverbend Country Club in Sugarland, Tx.
Finished their final round with a 304. For a ninth place finish at the ULM Wallace Jones Invitational on April 1 at the Southern Pines Golf Club in CALHOUN, La.
Lost against the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns March 30, 1-6 at the Cajun Courts in Lafayette, La.
March 20th, 2014
Just as UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville prepare for next year’s transition to The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, the City of Edinburg has found a way to demonstrate support for the University.
The first official UTPA Day took place Friday, Feb. 28 and UTPA students, their families and Edinburg residents were encouraged to wear a UTPA T-shirt or the University colors, green and orange. Local businesses including Edinburg H-E-B grocery stores and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance have pledged to participate in future UTPA Days, which will be the last Friday of every month.
The Edinburg City Council approved UTPA Day Feb. 18. Three of the five council members, including Mayor Richard H. Garcia, Mayor Pro Tem Elias Longoria Jr. and council member J.R. Betancourt, are Edinburg natives and UTPA graduates.
According to Irma Garza, the City of Edinburg’s director of public information, the idea came from the Edinburg Marketing Committee, made up of 15 representatives from local organizations including the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and UTPA.
“We believe in the work that the University is doing and we want them to know we are proud,” said Garza, a 2010 UTPA graduate. “What better way to improve our way of life than through education? I believe that education is the way.”
Simon Reyes, who has lived in Edinburg all of his life, said he thinks it is important for the University to have support from the community.
“It’s a win-win for each of us because Edinburg is benefitting because it’s producing college graduates for this area,” said the 21-year-old.
Jessica Quezada, a UTPA student and caterer at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, has lived in Edinburg for 10 years. She has not seen UTPA Day incorporated into her workplace, but she said she would wear the colors on that day.
“If we get more help from the city, it’s better, and people will want to come here into Edinburg, live here and go to UTPA,” the freshman said.
According to Garza, the hope is that not only local businesses, but the entire Rio Grande Valley, will embrace UTPA Day, especially now that the University will become UT-RGV.
“The long-term goals are to change the colors and mascot and ultimately to be able to have markers along the expressway to show that this is the home of the University,” Garza said. “Also signs or a statue depicting the mascot are for the mayor and community to decide.”
For now, this new tradition is Edinburg’s way of showing support for the 87 years that the University has provided a local means of higher education, Garza said.
Universities across the country in what are known as “college towns” receive support from the surrounding community, according to U.S. News & World Report, which published a list of “10 Great College Towns” in June 2010. A few of the cities listed are Austin, Berkeley, Calif. and Boston. According to the magazine, college towns are known for displaying the school colors and mascot around the city, and for instilling school spirit in visitors and local residents.
UTPA sophomore and Edinburg H-E-B employee Sebastian Garza said he thinks Edinburg needs to provide that sort of assistance for UTPA. He said he is proud to attend the University and plans to participate at work for the next UTPA Day.
“You know how Texas A&M has its College Station, and the whole city around it is all filled with colors,” said the 19-year-old accounting major. “I feel that our city should be more oriented to how our college is doing and to be more of a college city than just a normal city.”
March 11th, 2014
Early on the UTPA Broncs baseball team has taken home a three-game winning streak against the Arlington Baptist Patriots. The game ended in a double header March 8.
The Broncs last game against the Patriots allowed for a 4-2 victory at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Originally, the game was meant to spread from March 7-9. But because of bad weather heading toward the Rio Grande Valley, Saturday’s game was turned into a double header, forcing the Broncs and the Patriots to play a total of 18 innings with only a 40 minute prep time in-between.
According to the Bronc third basemen, Alberto Morales, the team held together through the day. It was not easy but in the end its what they had to do.
“Anytime you get three wins on a weekend its good,” Morales said. “These (doubleheaders) are just a mental grid. You know you got to play 18 innings and you just got to grind it out. Fatigue is going to kick in but the mental side is the strong side.”
While the Broncs ended their back-to- back weekend, Kyle Tokunaga had his first start of the season against the Patriots March 8. He pitched a total of seven innings and led the team to a 5-2 game against their opponents.
“It felt pretty good,” Tokunga said. “Went out there, threw a lot of strikes, threw a lot of ground balls and that’s what you got to do when you go pitch, you got to give your team a chance to win. Getting strikes-that’s what is going to do it.”
With their noses to the grindstone, the Broncs pulled through against the Patriots but know that they still have a whole season ahead of them. With their first Weastern Athletic Conference game coming up, Morales and his team are eager to move up in the ranks of this new conference.
“We are excited for our first WAC weekend, which is coming up two weeks from now (March 21).” Morales said. “It’s exciting and we are ready to play. As a team we are just trying to win a WAC championship…first year will be a big deal for us…but that is what I am looking forward to.”
Although the Broncs ended this spring break weekend with a win they will head out on a 7 game road trip starting March 11-12. The first stop will be College Station, where they will battle it out against the Texas A&M University Aggies for the first time this season.
February 6th, 2014
Quick and quiet breaths come one after another as the phlebotomist says to stay calm and relax. She takes a light blue tourniquet and places it up above the crook of an elbow. “Breath,” she says, taking note of the blue vein as it begins to swell. Then there is a slight pinch, and a quick prick of pain as the needle hits home. Eight minutes later a bag of blood and plasma sit separated on a sterile white table.
This is the process of a simple blood donation. A process each of the Bronc baseball players went through in honor of Nolan Naranjo and Jiada Grace Ortiz, Jan. 30 at the UTPA Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.
The drive was held by United Blood Services and is not solely for Ortiz and Naranjo, but the two have been sponsored by the team in the past with not only two previous blood drives but a bone marrow drive as well.
Both children are from the Rio Grande Valley were diagnosed with a type of rare bone marrow disease known as Aplastic Anemia. The illness affects the bone marrow the patient; this causes them to stop producing enough red blood cells and white blood platelets.
UTPA Assistant Coach Norberto Lopez explained that the blood drive was in honor of the children and marked another chance for the team, as a whole, to give back.
“We have been able to help a couple of kids in the past,” Lopez said. “They had some real rare blood disease…(Head Coach Manny Mantrana) wants to teach the guys, he wants to make sure that we teach them that it isn’t just about us and our lives. (It’s about) going every day and making sure that we are giving back and helping out.”
This event is by no means the first or last of its kind. This is the third year in a row that the Broncs have hosted the drive.
Recently, the baseball players paired with members of the women’s basketball team to host a bone marrow drive in November. The bone drive held Nov. 13 was to sponsor Naranjo, who was diagnosed with Pre-leukemia and was in need of a transplant.
Andy Fortuna, a Bronc outfielder, was present and donated at the January drive. He feels that he and the team should hold themselves to a standard where the community is also a priority.
“This is to set an example to the rest of the community,” the senior physical therapy major said. “If they see a group of guys in jerseys donating blood they will come around. Being a part of the University everyone looks at us in a certain way, we always try to set an example to everybody else.”
According to Fortuna this is a belief that the coaching staff has instilled in these players and has made the team what it is.
His coaches agree.
”We have been doing this for four years,” Lopez said. “And we might have a special group, cause they never complain. I’ve seen guys that are scared of needles and they are freaking out, they are almost turning white, but they still want to do it. And I think that is a testament to Coach Mantrana; he really preaches to them and tells them about giving back.”
Whether it is the ideals instilled in them by their coaching staff or peer pressure that keep them donating, the end, even first-timers see the value.
Jesus Garcia, a shortstop for the team, said sometimes it’s the little things that matter, and taking time out of their days to donate is a small price to pay.
”This was my first time,” Garcia said. “And you really don’t feel much. It did not bother me at all, it was for a good cause. We are doing a small part for something big and this is what we are doing, each of us, It will contribute little by little to something big.”
January 21st, 2014
UTPA women’s basketball team gave the Chicago State University Cougars a fast paced game Jan. 18. Midway through the game the broncs went on a 16 point run to pull off a win at the UTPA Field House 66-44.
Currently the Bronc season record now stands even 9-9, 3-2 season record in the Western Athletic conference.
The game was at a standstill as the Broncs fought off the Cougars. But Kaelynn Boyd, a sophomore, scored a three pointer, starting the 16 point run. Then junior Tonashia Walker hit seven straight points using two free throws, a three pointer and one layup.
The Broncs kept up the momentum as Charrell Price scored another three pointer and Brittany Bush went for a free throw. Scoring Shawnte Goff ended the run 42-27.
All in all Goff scored a total of 18 points, junior Jasmine Thompson scored 10 and Bush came close to a double double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
With this win in hand the Broncs will now face off at home against New Mexico State, Jan. 25, at the UTPA Field House.