STC 3rd annual Binational Educational Symposium offers student experience
Seven South Texas College students competed during the college’s third annual Binational Educational Symposium international commerce and economics contests against eight other universities in Mexico. The STC team brought home a third-place win.
For South Texas College student Perla Garcia, the Binational Educational Symposium has been more than just workshops and lectures, she was also active in the two-day event as a competitor, participating in the annual international commerce and economics contest and helping the college come in third place.
The Operations Management student said every year the conference opens her eyes to new challenges and solutions faced locally and internationally, since her experience also includes competing against university students in Mexico.
“It’s taken me 20 years to return to a classroom and with that, I never expected I would find myself competing in a contest like this…now this is my second year,” said the 48-year-old. “Business and accounting have always been part of what I do, but this symposium, this competition, takes it to a new level for me.”
The Symposium, now in its third year, hosted by STC in partnership with La Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas (UAT) and INDEX Reynosa, covers topics in supply chain implementation and management, and public and private sector innovations in international trade, nothing that Garcia said she was ever familiar with before attending this event.
“Students who have the opportunity to compete or participate in these conferences should take advantage, even if this isn’t what their focus of study is in,” said Garcia. “It opens your eyes to how everything works, and it gives you insight into other things that are important to in life.”
“It’s taken me 20 years to return to a classroom and with that, I never expected I would find myself competing in a contest like this…now this is my second year. Business and accounting have always been part of what I do, but this symposium, this competition, takes it to a new level for me.”
For the first time this year, the Symposium, which is traditionally held virtually, included in-person sessions for STC students and dual credit academies across Hidalgo and Starr Counties.
Symposium coordinator and STC Economics Instructor Jose Olivares said under the framework of the Binational Educational Symposium, event organizers wanted to include a student-focused event to add value to a student’s educational experience.
“All, if not most, of the sessions students attended will give them knowledge in areas that aren’t covered in a traditional classroom and may add value to their resumes making them more marketable,” said Olivares. “We hope to grow this part of the conference over the coming years to include more learning opportunities for students locally and across the border.”
In combining both days of the event, virtually and in-person, more than 400 students from the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico attended the event and learned not only about international commerce, but about financial literacy, certification and micro credential programs offered at STC and career opportunities in the topics and industries covered.
As for Garcia, her and her team of six, have been polishing up their knowledge in economics and international commerce for a couple of months leading up to the Symposium where they competed against eight other Reynosa universities.
One of her peers and fellow competitors, Fernando Dios Dado, who is an STC dual enrollment student from Edinburg North High School, said when he was presented with the opportunity, although he knew it would be challenging, he couldn’t say no.
“I want to be a doctor, own my own clinics, and I figured this was a step in the right direction,” said the 17-year-old. “This has been a great experience and I’ve learned so much from it. I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact this gets me one step closer to my goals. I’m proud to be on this team.”
Although ultimately finishing in third place, the team still endured a rigor that was like no other.
STC Economics Instructor and team advisor Kevin Peek, Ph.D., said he was impressed with the group of students he had to coach for this competition because it was no easy feat.
“This is a 100% Spanish competition, that’s the first challenge. Next, they are competing against students from Mexico who are majoring and dedicated in these fields, and who study this every day, but they proved themselves and became worthy competitors,” said Peek. “I’m extremely proud of the work they put in and for the success they achieved.”