Saying goodbye to a Bronc

April 24th, 2014

This morning marked one week since Eduardo “Eddie” Arguelles was struck and killed by a truck on I-69C and Trenton Road while on his routine  bike ride at 4:30 a.m. The UTPA employee and student was honored today with a 16-mile bike ride that was scheduled to start at 5 a.m. Participants donned pins with an image of a bike and his name on them as well as red shirts that read “A life on two wheels is just as important as a life on four.”

Arguelles was not only a cyclist, but a family man. He is survived by his wife, 4-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. Those who worked closely with Arguelles in the UTPA Information and Technology Division said his family was a large part of his life.

“Eddie would go pick up…his daughter during work hours and he’d have her in (his office) with him, and he loved having her there,” said Melissa Robles, an IT administrative assistant and co-worker of Arguelles. “He was very proud of her and protective of her.”

Aside from family, Arguelles shared a passion for cycling. He was a part of a group called the 5AM Wake-Up Ride, which was created in 2009 for people that wanted to exercise before work. Linda Hermida, an IT communications coordinator, said Arguelles was an avid biker who indulged in all sorts of cycling.

“He liked to barbecue, he was a writer, he was a Pan Am student, he was a father, he was a husband, he was a friend, he was a cyclist. (He liked)all types of cycling,” Hermida said. “There was a mountain bike side of him, he was a racer, he was a road cyclist and he also did cycling with his family, like leisure rides.”

Arguelles was six classes away from graduating with a general studies degree. While he told co-workers it would take him more than two years to complete his degree because he took only one class per semester, his family will be presented with his posthumous degree by UTPA President Robert Nelsen at the graduation ceremony May 10.

Arguelles’ supervisor and Technical Assessment Officer Anne Toal said he was a dream to work with and an asset to the UTPA IT department.

“Eddie had an enormous appreciation of life and I feel like he made me a better supervisor by having had the privilege of working with him,” Toal said. “I feel like everyone I saw him come in contact with here, in some way, they improved. He shed some of his grace on them and he brought them something that they didn’t have.”

Linda Mares, a co-worker and fellow cyclist of Arguelles, said he was a positive and helpful person in the workplace.

“He was able to bring the best out of people,” said Mares, a business analyst in the IT division. “He was able to recognize what your strengths were, and he would let you know that you were really good at it and that you were awesome.”

The man responsible for Arguelles’ death was driving an F-150 truck and had been drinking, according to The Edinburg Police Department. After striking Arguelles, 23-year-old Emilio Gomez was caught trying to dispose of the body on Iowa Road by Edinburg police. The next day, Gomez was charged with intoxicated manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and accident involving death, according to The Monitor.

Accompanying Arguelles on his early morning ride was friend Eddie Palacios. Palacios took to the 5AM Wake-Up Ride Facebook page shortly after the accident and asked for help in the search for Arguelles.

Hermida said one positive thing that came from this tragedy was the awareness about drunk driving. She said his legacy will help the community come together to help end driving under the influence.

“We are tired of these drunk drivers,” Hermida said. “It doesn’t matter if they hit a cyclist or if they hit a pedestrian. It doesn’t matter who it was, it needs to stop. I’ve lost family members to (drunk driving) and now a friend.”

In memory of Arguelles, Hermida said plans are being considered to have a “ghost bike” placed at the intersection where the accident happened as a reminder to those who pass by. Ghost bikes are white bicycles at the scenes of biking accidents, usually ones involving motor vehicles.

“You place a ghost bike where they passed just as a reminder to people that they need to be careful,” Hermida said. “That there are people out there who cycle, that their life is just as important (as someone) on four wheels and just to respect cyclists.”

Memorial services were held April 19 at Memorial Funeral Home in Edinburg and cremation service was scheduled for Tuesday at Val Verde Memorial Garden in Donna. UTPA and the IT department will also hold a memorial service in Arguelles’ honor April 25 at 3 p.m. in the Engineering Building Room 1.300.

“While he was alive, he lived. And he did, very, very much so,” Toal said of Arguelles. “He was very much alive. He was very much in the present. He was enjoying doing all the things that he could do.”

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A taste of culture

April 24th, 2014

While holding a red poster board April 9 with the words “This is not AZ” plastered across it, senior Eloy Gonzalez patiently waited to hear the fate of Mexican-American studies in public schools.

That day, the Texas State Board of Education voted 11-3 to validate the development of an approved Mexican-American studies curriculum that will be available to public high schools all across Texas. Along with Mexican-American studies, the SBOE also approved the development of African-, Asian- and Native-American curriculum. The courses, which will be considered electives, are to be recognized as Special Topics in Social Studies and implemented in Texas schools for the 2016-2017 academic school year.

The development of a Mexican-American studies course was first proposed by SBOE Representative and Brownsville native Ruben Cortez in November 2013. Since then, educators and activists, such as Tony Diaz of the state-wide movement El Librotraficante have reached out to educators and organizations all over the state to push for the proposal.

Preceding the vote was a march April 8 organized by Diaz and members of El Librotraficante to gain support for the proposal; the group was made up of scholars, activists and students from across the state. Among the 30 people that participated in the march were Gonzalez and UTPA students Eloisa Moreno and Ruben Garza. Additionally, 50 people testified before the board on the necessity of implementing the course. Gonzalez, who is president of the UTPA Mexican-American Studies Club, was one of the 50.

“I was a little nervous but determined to testify in front of the whole State Board of Education on how Mexican-American studies has changed my life and its importance in the lives of all Mexican-American youth,” said the senior Mexican-American studies major. “It feels that I have done something positive for my community.”

Gonzalez also commented on the diversity of supporters for the course who attended the march.

“Something very interesting was that not only Mexican-American scholars, activists and students were there, but also people from other ethnicities such as the African-Americans that were in favor of the implementation of Mexican-American studies,” Gonzalez said. “This whole movement was for the implementation of the contributions that have not been acknowledged from different groups such as Mexican American, African American, Asian American and Native American.”

While Gonzalez, Moreno and Garza advocated in Austin, members of the Mexican-American Studies Club showed their support on campus with a rally led by member Amalia Ortiz.

Supporters of the proposal felt that implementing these courses will be beneficial to students of the state, particularly Hispanics. Statistics from the Texas Education Agency showed for the 2012-13 school year, 51.3 percent of Texas public school students were Hispanic, a number that continues to grow as the population of the state changes.

School districts in Texas will have access to a state-approved curriculum for these courses. The state is planning to reach out to publishers for materials, which could benefit Latino authors and writers. For some people, it was a long-awaited victory, including Marci McMahon, graduate certificate coordinator of the Mexican-American Studies Program at UTPA, who explained its significance.

“It will only work to help educate students about the history of diverse groups in this country,” McMahon said. “I think while the universities recognize Latino studies as a legitimate field, it’s the public school systems where it needs to be recognized.”

While the initial proposal was for a stand-alone course on Mexican-American studies, Cortez had agreed to the compromise to have this course and other ethnic-related courses available as electives. McMahon commented on these other options.

“We’re a multicultural society,” McMahon said. “I was actually glad to hear that the elective wasn’t just Mexican-American studies and that it was other groups.”

While many educators and organizations supported this approval, it also received its fair share of negative views. Skeptics, such as board member David Bradley, stated that having these courses will promote “reverse racism” and bring further division into society.

“Mexican-American studies does not teach to hate America but to understand the history and to love America for what it is: the land of the opportunity,” Gonzalez countered. “What Mexican-American Studies and these other courses do is teach how to value all cultures, be a positive representative in your community, and do something for the betterment of your community.”

McMahon also noted that this notion of “reverse racism,” a theory of discrimination occurring against a more dominant race, couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I think that’s just a very faulty way of thinking about American identity,” McMahon said. “Mexican-American history, African-American history, Asian-American history, that’s part of American history and I think to say it’s reverse racism completely misunderstand the history of race relations in this country.”

While the classes will be available to students at the public school setting, Gonzalez hopes it will be equally beneficial to students like himself.

“I can just imagine what Mexican-American Studies will do for students at an earlier stage such as high school,” Gonzalez said. “It will encourage students to reach their Mexican-American dream.”

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Money does grow on trees

April 24th, 2014

UTPA currently has about 45 species of trees on its grounds, all of which have been tagged by students such as Sam Denny and Sarah Chavez.

 

“Eighty percent of the trees on campus are either ash or live oak,” Denny said. “We’ve been measuring each tree and making notations on whether they need maintenance.”

 

Chavez is part of BIOL 4201 and Denny is in ENSC 4300. Both are new courses at UTPA that fall under the Tree Campus USA effort. The team, led by Assistant Professor of Biology Alexis Racelis, is a service-learning project only offered this spring and next fall semester and is funded in part by the Office for Sustainability. Funds for the project come from the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.

 

It is a hands-on outdoors project that, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, aims to teach each school that wants to earn the distinction to effectively manage their trees and develop community connectivity within and outside the campus borders.

 

Denny said the program works to preserve the campus relationship with its trees and helps students realize that universities aren’t just dense urban jungles.

 

“The trees around campus help students calm down when (they) take a walk and lie under them,” said the 21-year-old. “We’re gathering information on these trees so the school can effectively manage them and give them space, and not just cut them down if they’re in the way. Each tree brings enormous value to its surrounding area.”

 

The students are compiling a database of all trees taller than 15 feet on campus grounds. When they measure trees and determine the age, they can figure out a dollar value of that tree. Denny said each tree is evaluated for its age, ground cover, storm water retention, air purification and land value.

 

According to Jorge Cantu, a graduate student in charge of the Tree Campus USA project, the dollar value of the tree is calculated by a program called “EcoTree” after plugging in every measurement and the species of a tree. Considering all those factors, the tree becomes like an extra worker, air purification unit or sewer pipe and provides tangible worth to the University.

 

They measure the total height of the tree. If the tree is too tall for their telescoping pole, they triangulate the height from the tip of the tallest branch. They measure the length of the branches from north to south, then east to west. Usually, the canopy of the tree is the same as the ground cover, which is the space the roots take up underground. They also take a photograph of the tree, then nail a badge to the base indicating the tree has been catalogued.

 

Once the data has been gathered and the campus meets the five standards outlined by the Arbor Day Foundation, the campus can gain official Tree Campus USA designation for a year.

 

The five standards for Tree Campus USA are a campus tree care plan, a campus tree advisory committee, campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, the Arbor Day observance and a service learning project that includes the surrounding community.

 

Under those five standards, the school’s committee of faculty, staff, students and a member of the community that makes sure the standards are being upheld year after year so the school can keep its Tree Campus USA designation. The course will not be offered again until three years from now, Chavez said, when the campus trees must be re-tallied.

 

When a university is designated an official Tree Campus USA school, it means the university has established a plan to take care of their trees, is provided an Arbor Day celebration once a year in which the surrounding community can participate in planting new trees and can allocate funds to provide for the upkeep of the trees.

 

“We’ll be sharing this data with the school not only to tally the total value of campus trees, which is probably around $200 million,” Denny said. “But to also work with the Physical Plant and provide maintenance tips and danger areas.”

 

Additionally, there are trees that are in danger of dying if they are cut incorrectly while they are being trimmed, Chavez said.

 

“Branches and leaves are how the tree sustains itself,” the 22-year-old history major said. “And if the cut is made badly, the tree can wither.”

 

Proper maintenance is important for a tree’s health and the students in the course want to make sure the school knows the value of a tree so they are more careful with it, Chavez said as she walked around pointing out bad cuts and trims on each tree.

 

“Most of these cuts are too close to the trunk, and they did it so the tree looks nice or symmetrical,” she said. “You’ve got to cut the tree so it grows as much as it can, then worry about making it look nice.”

 

The students in the class are working with Edward Kupret and Salvador Alemany from the Texas Forestry Commission to get trained on how to collect the data for the school’s tree management plan, as well as learn the proper maintenance for each type of tree on campus.

Of the dozens of species of trees on campus, one near the Field House is very unique with a large trunk and inch-thick spikes growing out of its branches.

Chavez said the cities of Edinburg and McAllen will also implement the Arbor Day Foundation program to make inventories of their trees.

 

“The cities want a cash value of their trees, in case of flood damage or for civil cases, so they can have a hard number to provide to insurers or to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for replacements,” she said.

 

UTPA will also have these values for replacement or insurance purposes, so they know in the future how much a tree is worth before it’s cut down to clear space for upcoming expansion.
“This class has made me look at the campus in an entirely new way,” Chavez said. “It’s made me truly discover this school.”

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SGA Inauguration Ceremony

April 17th, 2014

Newly elected Alberto Adame and Carla Fernanda Peña officially began their duties as president and vice president of the Student Government Association April 14. The UTPA Visitors Center lobby hosted the SGA’s 2014-2015 Inauguration Ceremony April 11, where Adame and Peña gave executive addresses.
Adame and Peña will be the last executive team to serve a full year under the name UTPA. After mergin UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville and creating the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, the 2015-2016 elected officials will divide their terms between both entities.
Adame, a finance major, said he is thankful to the students for giving him and Peña this opportunity and would like them to be involved with upcoming UTPA events.
“I’m very excited, but there’s also a kind of melancholy because UTPA is going away, but still very exciting nonetheless,” said Adame, a Monterrey, Mexico native. “I’m also very grateful to the students because we couldn’t have done it without the support of the student body.”
The inauguration began with Elections Committee Chair Yadira Mejia introducing Vice President for Student Affairs Martha Cantu for opening remarks. Following Cantu was the oath of office for every college, including senators for the College of Business Administration, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and senators at large, which then led to the president and vice president’s oaths.
“I’m very excited and a little bit nervous,” Peña said. “We definitely want to make changes for the better of the University and we’re hoping to get this done, but also (we don’t want to) forget about UTPA because we’re still here so we want to keep our Bronc spirit and just transition to UT-RGV together.”
Adame and Peña replaced SGA incumbents President Aaron Barreiro and Vice President Erik Sanchez.
“More than anything, I want to thank every single person in the University for giving us this opportunity and just to stick with us. Also to come out to all the events we’ll have,” Adame said.
Their platform centered on healthier food options around the University, longer library hours and larger parking lots.
“Our door is always open for (the students),” Peña said. “If they ever need anything, we’re always here for them. We’re here for the students, not for us, so just stick with us. We want to make changes to the University and hopefully they’ll support us and if they need anything, they’ll come to us as well and we’ll help them together.”

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Chivalry isn’t dead

April 17th, 2014

UTPA alumnus Robert De Leon said his father used to abuse his mother. Once he grew up, De Leon found that he was becoming abusive himself, not physically, but mentally and emotionally.

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, between 1994 and 2010, approximately four in five victims in violent relationships in the U.S. were female. In 2012, 114 women were killed and there were 188,992 family incidents that included physical beating and verbal abuse among other types of violence in Texas.

“I’m here to share my story as a domestic violence survivor because I witnessed and experienced domestic violence in my home from a very young age and through my adolescent years,” explained 33-year-old De Leon. “So I thought that was what men were supposed to do or how men were supposed to act.”

In October 2013, De Leon founded “Bromodels” at his home in San Juan. The Valley-wide organization’s team consists of three other men that visit schools and universities to raise awareness about male violence toward women.

Bromodels teaches men about gender equality and speaks about proper ways to treat women. This organization attempts to solve the problem at its root by reaching out to males of all ages. De Leon believes that boys are prone to being violent because manhood is defined as being tough. Crying is considered feminine, so young men try to hide their feelings.

“As (boys) grow and get older, they’re suppressing those emotions and they can’t be expressive…because the moment that they shed a tear, their father, their friends, peers, media, they’ll say ‘stop acting like a girl’ or ‘that’s so gay,’” De Leon said. “That’s where men will see women as inferior to them, because they’ve learned that only women are submissive and only women cry.”

The strong traditional influence of Mexican culture in the Rio Grande Valley often brings in “machismo,” meaning manhood or male pride. De Leon said people tend to associate machismo with the character of “el valiente” from Mexican bingo. El valiente is a card depicting a man in a fighting stance holding a bloody knife. In English, it translates to “the violent man.” That is what De Leon is trying to change, showing that there has been a basic misunderstanding about what the term means; often it is seen as derogatory.

“I found that machismo is defined as someone that is worthy of imitation, and so we want to make people aware that machismo is actually a good thing,” De Leon explained.

Many people have grown to see masculinity as a bad thing, he said, but nobody acquaints it with chivalry. To be chivalrous is to be courageous, to be courteous, loyal and considerate to women. That is the version of machismo De Leon subscribes to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEARNED BEHAVIOR

Mujeres Unidas is a local organization that has provided shelter and programs for 32 years to women, men and children who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault. This organization has two branches that serve people in different ways.

The section of MU that most people are familiar with is for women and children who have been in an abusive setting. With two McAllen offices and one in Weslaco, MU helps individuals by offering shelter, counseling and legal services.

Yesenia Ibarra, the coordinator of MU’s other section, the Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP), said abusers grow up with domestic violence around them and they inherit that behavior.

BIPP focuses more on the batterers rather than the victims themselves. The 24-week program is similar to anger management but targets family violence. Ibarra believes this program is more effective because in group sessions, participants are able to give each other feedback.

“Many (abusers) have seen violence in their home. They go on seeing that their father was violent towards their mother, so when they get older they think that that’s normal,” said Ibarra, who has been BIPP’s coordinator for eight years.

According to childhelp-usa.com, 30 percent of children who were abused will later go on to abuse their own children.

“That’s one of the reasons I do these presentations. To get more men involved and (so they can learn) how we as men can prevent violence against women,” De Leon said.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recorded 1,907 answered domestic violence hotline calls in Texas the day they conducted their 2013 census Sept. 17, which means more than 79 calls were answered each minute.

UTPA engineering major Victor Diaz feels one reason men might feel the need to treat women violently is because do not respect females.

“These men will use violence against women if they are mad or upset and think it’s alright to abuse them whenever and however they want,” Diaz said. “I believe Bromodels is a good cause because the more males that are aware of this abuse, then statistically the percentage of women being abused will decrease.”

Ibarra believes Bromodels can have a positive impact on the community and that it is important to start talking to children as young as 11 years old about stopping or avoiding violent behavior.

“I think it’s a really good approach to try to catch them at a younger age and the people that (BIPP) deals with have already offended, so they’re already in the system,” she said.

According to the Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys (DASFK), about 4,000 women die from domestic violence each year. Ibarra mentioned that children may also be indirectly affected, adding to the toll of the problem.

“Most people associate family violence with just the physical aspect. They don’t think about the verbal abuse or the emotional abuse and even a lot of the participants that we get don’t see that being violent towards their partner is affecting their children,” Ibarra explained.

DASFK’s website also lists different types of domestic abuse including intimidation and guilt or scare tactics. Because of his history with abuse, De Leon said drinking would only make things worse, so he began to search for a solution.

“(I began) to abuse alcohol to express myself when I was angry, confused or frustrated,” he explained. “That was when I started to make something of these feelings and finding a way to let them out, which was talking to other men about it and saying, ‘You know what? It’s OK that I’m hurting right now.’”

 

THE CHALLENGE

To spread awareness, Bromodels participates in the annual Walk-a-Mile In Her Shoes, hosted by Mujeres Unidas. The latest edition will take place April 26 at the Edinburg Municipal Park. The 5K marathon will be followed by a mile challenge, where men wear high heels and walk a mile to spread awareness of violence against women. The 5K is available to men and women but, the 1K challenge is a men-only event.

The public is able to register at MU’s main office for $25 at 511 N. Cynthia St. in McAllen or online at rgvevents.net. Registration is open until the day of the event.

While he appreciates the event, De Leon said it doesn’t compare to some of the struggles women face, but believes it is a great way to raise awareness of some issues. He said the ultimate Bromodel is supposed to “encourage and empower” all males to become the solution when it comes to ending violence against females.

“At the end of the day, I know that there is a lot of violence against women and girls, but at the same time we have to recognize that these behaviors attribute to violence against ourselves as men,” De Leon said. “We have to do a better job of taking care of ourselves, but at the same time with an understanding that we have to respect, and when I say women and girls, I’m talking about all women and girls.”

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Preparing for catastrophe

April 17th, 2014

The destruction of the Gulf Coast left by Hurricane Ike six years ago played on a screen as community members and University staff looked on in disbelief. Finance Insurance Real Estate, also known as FIRE, held a natural disaster symposium April 10 in hopes of preventing destruction like the kind left by Ike in the Rio Grande Valley. The conference was held at the Community Engagement and Student Success building located on Freddy Gonzalez Drive and Highway 281.

Hurricane Ike came two months after the Valley had been struck by Hurricane Dolly July 2008. The cost in damages added up to more than $1 billion, according to The National Weather Service.

Experts from all over the country attended the symposium, including UTPA Provost Havidan Hernandez and U.N. Representative Elina Palm to speak on the importance of disaster resiliency in the Valley.

“At the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) our primary focus is to engage with different factors to mobilize them to act before disaster strikes,” Palm said. “It is all about building resilience and reducing risk.”

Palm discussed the different ways an area can prepare for a disaster and build up resiliency. Examples included building regulations and designing buildings and homes with Mother Nature in mind.

In turn, the Rio Grande Valley has begun working on resilience by having a mock tornado drill March 5 in Brownsville as part of Rio Grande Valley Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 2-8. The week was designated by Gov. Rick Perry in 2013.

Awareness Week comes after the Valley was hit with a severe hail storm March 2012 that resulted in $200 to $500 million in damages, according to The National Weather Service.

At the April 10 event, symposium organizer Kenneth Lovell discussed the importance of being prepared and stressed the population growth of the Rio Grande Valley. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2012 the RGV has a total population of more than 1.3 million.

Furthermore, UTPA is also helping build resilience by developing a disaster studies master’s program that will teach researchers how an impending storm can affect the human population it strikes, according to a 2013 article in The Monitor.

“If you look at our economy you will see that a lot of (it) is dependent of Winter Texans. If a hurricane hits us and there is damage to their homes, they would not come back,” said Lovell, a UTPA lecturer in economics and finance.

In order to raise awareness in cities worldwide about the importance of disaster resilience, the UNISDR created the Making Cities Resilient campaign which launched in 2010. The campaign advocates for a commitment from local governments to build resilience to disasters by way of better city planning and.

“There were some cities in the Galveston area that survived Hurricane Ike because they took the advanced precautions,” Lovell said. “We need to recognize that this can happen here in the Valley and we need to think about how we can make this type of disaster less effective.”

At the symposium, UTPA President Robert Nelsen discussed the need for action in the community.

“The new university, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, will be an anchor institution. An anchor institution is an institution that is committed to solving problems in the community. UT-RGV needs to reach out,” Nelsen said. “We will graduate students who will be able to solve societal problems and more importantly we will volunteer and be engaged in that work as a University from here on out.”

According to Palm, there has been a decrease in mortality risks, destruction and death for weather related catastrophe due to less vulnerability. This decrease is because of early warning systems, improved weather forecasting and preparedness.

“There is nothing else I want to emphasize more than the importance in planning and trying to avoid building more risk,” the U.N. representative said. “Building resilience is not a cost, it is an investment.”

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Some assembly required

April 17th, 2014

Caleb Elizondo, a senior computer information systems major at UTPA and public relations director for the Association of Information Technology Professionals, has found a way to use his education to help the less fortunate. He has been refurbishing and donating computers to an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico through a volunteer project that promotes technology education to young children.
The orphanage, Casa Hogar MAMI, is a shelter for girls where education, room and board and medical/psychological attention are offered 24 hours a day. MAMI is an acronym for Ministerio de Amor y Misericordia, or Ministry of Love and Mercy. The orphanage can care for up to 50 girls, according to its website.
Jerald Hughes, an associate professor in computer information systems and quantitative measurement, started the project in fall 2013.
“The City of San Juan…and also a local FBI office, donated some monitors, and individuals and faculty have donated parts and PCs to be given to (Casa Hogar),” Hughes said. “So my team’s job was to go through every single one of them, make sure they’re in good working order and remove the parts or replace the ones that weren’t.”
AITP is a national organization that provides a community network for those seeking to be IT business professionals. They provide education programs for advancing technology and business skills, networking and online resources, according the main AITP website.
“The students from the AITP chapter are the ones doing the work,” Hughes said. “There are probably around 10 of them all together that have done the majority of the work. And of course their benefit is a lot of hands-on experience in hardware and software (and) figuring out what the system’s needs are.”
The members of AITP provided “operating systems” for all of the computers in addition to a program, which they wrote the code for, that made Linux easier to install. An operating system is software that supports a computer’s basic functions, such as executing applications and scheduling tasks.
Elizondo explained that students in AITP who are knowledgeable in the IT field are often bilingual and have been beneficial the organization in Mexico.
“Since the orphanage is in Mexico, we decided to (install the software) entirely in Spanish, which was pretty interesting,” Elizondo said. “And to be honest, I think if another university or college tried to do this, they might have had some difficulty…luckily (we) have some bilingual students that were able to run the code, install the software and everything in Spanish. So (this) was a learning process for those of us that don’t speak Spanish.”
The computers that were donated to AITP go through the process of being wiped clean, followed by “troubleshooting” at no cost to the organization. Troubleshooting is the process of tracing and correcting faults in an electronic or mechanical system.
“We had to resort to open-based software or freeware, which is why we chose a Linux operating system,” Elizondo explained. “If we were to go with some sort of Windows system (like) XP, 7, Vista, Windows 8, all of those would either have to be obtained at a high price or would have to be obtained illegally (and) we’re not in the business of doing things illegally, so we resorted to a Linux-based operating system that the kids can use.”
As of February 2011, there are 76.5 million Linux users. Linux is a computer operating system that is similar to Windows and OS X, which is the operating system powered by Apple computers, and is entirely free.
According to Elizondo, the Linux operating system was originally difficult to operate, but they have since developed a new, user-friendly version that makes it easier for children to use.
“My favorite part was being able to help other kids in need,” Elizondo said. “You know, develop their future and work with peers and other students from the organization and not only learn, but teach some of the underclassmen who have never worked with Linux before and installing anti-virus software.”
Ascension Mares, AITP president, said the organization likes to search for community engagement opportunities as a group to help out where it can.
“It involves the community and without this, a lot of our organization and the work that we do wouldn’t have any benefit,” said Mares, a Los Angeles native. “So we benefit and the orphanage benefits, so we would like to continue doing this so that we can continue our training and we can continue helping the orphanage.”
The organization had done community service before they started with the Reynosa orphanage. The idea of donating computers began with members’ volunteer work in Peñitas.
“We donated some computers to the local community center (in Peñitas) and I knew it was something our students would be good at and enjoy, so as soon as we found out that San Juan had surplus computers to use, we got right on it and figured out how to transfer them (to Mexico),” Hughes said.
According to Hughes, this will be an ongoing project and he does not want to see it end.
“The purpose of this is community outreach and engagement with the people of Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “These will be the first computers these students have ever touched. These children have not had access to anything like this kind of technology.”

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Weekly UTPA Sports Updates 3/30- 4/2/2014

April 3rd, 2014

Baseball

Lost to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 15-7 April 2 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.

 

Women’s Golf

Junior Melissa Bernal finished in a tie for 17th place at the Husky Invitational April 1 at the Riverbend Country Club in Sugarland, Tx.

 

Men’s Golf

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.

 

Men’s Tennis

Lost against the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns March 30, 1-6 at the Cajun Courts in Lafayette, La.

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Tuition on the rise

April 3rd, 2014

As UTPA approaches its final year before merging with the University of Texas at Brownsville, its students may see a possible increases in their fall 2014 tuition. Whether this increase is related to the creation of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley has been discussed by students.

Karina Saucedo, a junior English major, said that there may be a connection between the tuition increase and the upcoming university merger.

“I guess they are doing it to accommodate (the new university) or just to get certain grants that maybe they need, or more money from the government,” the 19-year-old said. “They are putting schools together so they think, ‘How are we going to afford this?’ Raise it. Raise the tuition.”

The proposed tuition for fall 2014 is $1,830.36, a $94.36 increase from fall 2013. This three percent increase would be a leap from the 0.14 percent increase seen between the 2012 and 2013 school years. Despite proposed increases, UTPA’s tuition will still sit more than $2,000 below that of the University of Texas at Dallas and nearly $1,800 below that of the University of Texas at Austin.

“I feel that (UTPA) shouldn’t do it,” Saucedo said. “I guess we just have to bear it and hope financial aid gives us enough to cover it.”

While the proposed tuition raise seems unnecessary to some students, the Cost of Education Committee released a Powerpoint explaining the processes of initiating a possible rise in cost for students and where the funds would be distributed.

The Powerpoint states that the possible increase in tuition would help fund two new buildings on campus that will cost approximately $900,000. Also the University must set aside funds for exempt students, such as veterans. These factors, among others, are responsible for the possible increase, according to the committee.

The Cost of Education Committee consists of two faculty members, seven staff members, one parent and 10 students, including current Student Government Association President Aaron Barreiro. The committee members meet to discuss increases before making suggestions to University President Robert Nelsen.

Barreiro said that the committee is responsible for looking at tuition costs and deciding whether to approve an increase. The committee then sends recommendations for an increase to the University President Robert Nelsen.

“There are number of different factors that play a role in whether or not tuition increases,” Barreiro said. “This past fiscal year, the tuition increase was focused on taking the money and giving it back to students through a number of different programs.”

After a possible increase in tuition, UTPA and UTB would remain the two most inexpensive schools within the UT system, just below the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and the University of Texas at Tyler, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

According to an article by The Monitor, UTB may see an increase of nearly 7 percent in their fall tuition rates.

While a previous article by The Monitor stated that the possible tuition increase at UTB is set to match that of UTPA, University of Texas System Spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said that this is not the case.

“There’s no connection between UTB tuition and UTPA tuition,” LaCoste-Caputo said. “That discussion about what tuition will be at UT-RGV has not begun.”

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Events calendar April 3-12

April 3rd, 2014

Screen shot 2014 04 02 at 9.09.13 PM Events calendar April 3 12

Categories: Arts & Life

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