South Texas College students, staff and administrators recently held a special celebration to salute the hard work and dedication to higher education by Texas District 20 Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. During the event, STC President Shirley A. Reed highlighted some of the Senator’s accomplishments, which have helped STC continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of the communities it serves.
“The Senator supported the selection of STC as one of three community colleges to pilot offering the Bachelor of Applied Technology degree, which provides affordable access to a bachelor’s degree for students in our service area,” she explained. “Without his support, the hundreds of Valley resident that have graduated with bachelor’s degrees from our program would not have the same quality of life they currently have today. He also supported state appropriations funding for STC and was a vocal advocate for restoring funding for public education while serving on the Senate Finance Committee
“He supported the early college high school model and now STC is the higer ed partner with nine early college high schools across Hidalgo County, a figure which is expected to increase to 15 by next fall,” she continued. “Because of these ECHS, thousands of students will have the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school and many of them will earn associate degrees. They will have an unprecedented opportunity to save money and accelerate their futures. All in all, it is easy to see that his enduring support has allowed us to continue our open access service mission of offering a quality education at an affordable price. We are deeply grateful.”
Hinojosa also had the chance to meet and hear from STC students that have benefitted from his work to continue funding higher education.
“As an STC Valley Scholars Program student, I know it’s a privilege to be part of the program because without it I would be more focused on paying my tuition than studying,” said Gabrielle Marroquin in her address to Hinojosa. “STC gave me the opportunity to get a great education and save money for my future. I am very grateful for everyone who supports the college because without that support, we students wouldn’t be where we are today, so thank you.”
During the event, Sen. Hinojosa discussed his own personal trials as an immigrant field worker who endured the horrors of the Vietnam War. After his return from the battlefield, he took advantage of the benefits of higher education to ensure he created new and better opportunities for his own life, a lesson that has deeply influenced his continued support of creating and enhancing higher education opportunities in the region he serves.
“What many people still don’t understand and I continually say is that here in the Valley you can really get a very solid higher education,” said Hinojosa. “This is a great country we live in. When I graduated college, I had several offers to attend law school and I went to Georgetown University. At first I felt out of place, but what I found is that Valley students can compete anywhere.
“Our educational system is our future and we can never stop investing in it. STC is the key to creating jobs because you can respond very quickly to workforce needs. A degree will always give you a better opportunity and it is important for us to invest in education. I understand this and how important it is for our future. I will always support education.”
Sen. Hinojosa has served more than 30 years in elected positions in the Texas House and Senate. He was recently named the 2012 Border Texan of the Year. For additional information about him visit http://www.hinojosa.senate.state.tx.us/.