Endorsement for Dr. Maria Cervantes - RGV Citizen of the Year
By Diane Teter, M.S.I.S., M.Ed
Professor Emerita of Biology
Faculty Senate President 2017-2019
Dr. Maria Cervantes deserves 2021 RGV Citizen of the Year recognition. Dr. Cervantes is chair of the biology department at South Texas College and supervises 40 full-time members and 21 dual credit faculty across five STC campuses and 26 high schools.
I worked with Dr. Cervantes as a biology faculty members and now as professor emerita of biology at STC and have witnessed her dedication and enthusiasm for teaching, her discipline, the numerous faculty who she guides, the students and our college.
During the pandemic she judiciously and efficiently moved the biology classes that teach roughly 11,000 students from face-to-face instruction to online delivery – and remember that most biology classes require laboratory instruction. This feat was accomplished through foresight of having a template for all online biology classes and working with faculty closely to achieve this goal. She worked with faculty to make sure they have the support and tools necessary to transition to online. Due to all the efforts, students across the Valley were able to complete their degrees and graduate with their associates.
Also, recall that STC teaches dual enrollment classes (around 200 biology courses per semester), some on STC campuses and some on high school campuses, and in 2021 was accredited by National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.
For almost 10 years, Dr. Cervantes has taught numerous students of anatomy and physiology and has seen their successful completion of scholarly pursuits. Dr. Cervantes has also guided the department through achievement grants sponsored and written by biology faculty members for the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
As a matter of fact, the biology department was the institution in the RGV to get accepted into the prestigious Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science Program that has brought opportunities for exciting research into the biology classrooms.
As department chair, she has spearheaded the articulation of the biology degree with a bachelor of biomedical science degree at UTRGV and bachelor’s in agriculture with Texas A&M. Under her leadership, the biology department will be offering an expansion of courses in the agriculture area such as agronomy, horticulture, wildlife management and food science.
She recently was awarded the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Award. NISOD is a membership organization committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning and leadership at community and technical colleges.
I enthusiastically endorse Dr. Cervantes for her dedication and her achievements as an educator of the year.