Texas Border Business
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – DEC. 14, 2015 – Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV vice president for Governmental and Community Relations, and Velinda Reyes, assistant vice president for Community Programs and Operations, are in Washington, D.C., to participate in a STEM-centered roundtable discussion that is part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper +STEM Initiative.
A portion of the president agenda focuses on the promotion and success of young people of all backgrounds in school and in life.
On Monday, Dec. 14, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) brought together leaders and stakeholders from around the country to discuss integrated strategies that can enable and inspire students and help disconnected youths find their way into opportunities through STEM and entrepreneurship.
UTRGV joined a broad coalition of community and business leaders, along with U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith; Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson. The group discussed strategies and actions that inspire and prepare current students and disconnected youths to pursue academic and professional opportunities in entrepreneurship and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“The opportunity to represent UTRGV on a platform like President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper +STEM Initiative is an honor,” Gonzales said. “We are pleased to contribute to the discussion of students in STEM and share our experiences in educating our youth about STEM educational and career pathways through the success of the university’s HESTEC program among others.
“It is critical that our students are exposed to these opportunities, so that Hispanics can continue to find success in STEM fields and advance our entire Latino community across the country. We thank the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for the invitation to be a part of this outstanding roundtable,” she said.
Gonzales and Reyes currently oversee the Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The 14-year-old program, formerly under the direction of UTRGV’s legacy institution, UT Pan American, has reached more than 50,000 students, educators and community members each year and has partnered with more than 45 corporations nationwide. Over the course of its existence, the program has had an impact on more than 1 million people of all backgrounds and ages. Earlier this year, the program was recognized as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Gonzales and Reyes not only discussed HESTEC, but also shared the latest developments on the long-awaited UTRGV School of Medicine, among other STEM programs offered at the university.