Starr County native Rose Benavidez was recently sworn in to serve a second term on South Texas College’s Board of Trustees. Benavidez, who serves as the District 1 representative on the board representing the constituents of Starr County, first ran in Nov. 2009 to serve the unexpired term of her belated father, Manuel Benavidez Jr. She currently serves as the vice chair of the board, as well as a member of the board’s Facilities Committee and Finance and Human Resources Committee.
“On a night much like this in November 2009 I stood before you privileged to be elected to serve the remainder of my father’s term,” Benavidez said at her swearing in ceremony. “It was a difficult time and words were hard to come by, but your support allowed me to ensure that his legacy endures. I was proud to be the person chosen to continue his fight of providing and expanding access to education in this community.
“I continue my service with a commitment to the students and residents of the South Texas College District to guarantee that prosperity is within everyone’s reach,” she continued. “Today STC serves more than 30,000 students, with nearly 2,500 Starr County residents attending classes at one of our six campuses – a clear testament that STC is not a backup plan, but a forefront choice to an affordable and quality education. The responsibility of affording access comes with many challenges, so our work must continue. While so much has changed on these old cantaloupe fields that STC’s Starr County Campus now sits on, they continue to be harvested only today – they cultivate success.”
During the swearing in ceremony, Starr County leaders gathered to recognize Benavidez, who is also the president of the Starr County Industrial Foundation. Speeches were made by Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, Starr County Commissioner Eloy Garza, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal and businessman Sam Vale, to name a few. Student Joel Correa, representing STC’s Starr County Campus Student Government Association, took the opportunity to express his appreciation on behalf of students.
“On behalf of STC’s Starr County Campus Student Government Association and all Starr County students, I would like to congratulate you on your election,” said Correa. “We couldn’t have asked for a better trustee who supports us in all we do. Thank you for your continued support and belief in us.”
During her three year tenure on the college’s board, Benavidez has served on the Facilities Committee and the Finance and Human Resources Committee. Additionally, she has served as the vice chair of the Board of Trustees since her election to that office by her peer trustees in May 2010.
She participated in the adoption of North Grammar Elementary into STC’s “Operation College Bound Program” to ensure students continuously receive messages about college preparation from an early age. She helped launch the college’s Dual Enrollment Computer Science Academy in Starr County in partnership with local high schools. The program witnessed its first three graduates this May; all three earned associate degrees in computer science from STC weeks before earning their high school diplomas.
Also during her time on the board, Benavidez helped adopt a balanced $136 million dollar budget, despite nearly a 20 percent decrease in state funding. She advocated for the launch of the college’s sixth campus, the e-STC Virtual Campus, which serves nearly 6,000 students, of which more than 500 are Starr County residents. She helped lobby and win approval in Austin for the college’s third Bachelor of Applied Technology Degree, which was first offered in fall 2011.
“Whether you know it or not, Rose has been part of STC from the very beginning,” said Sam Vale. “Many years ago, when STC was just an idea, she helped her father gather Starr County support for our region to have access to a community college. Then, when it came time for a local campus in the county, she campaigned to get a bond passed that provided the funds to build this lovely campus we have today. It’s true that without Rose we would not be where we are and so many Starr County families would not have better lives and opportunities. We look forward to many more years of fighting hard alongside Rose to provide opportunities and access for our Starr County students.”
Benavidez’s term begins May 2012 and expires in May 2018. For additional information about STC’s Board of Trustees visit http://www.southtexascollege.edu/about/board/index.html or call 956-872-3555.