25
April
2022
|
15:04 PM
America/Chicago

True Champions of Student Success

STC honors 2021-2022 retiring faculty

Summary

South Texas College Dean for Liberal Arts Dr. Chris Nelson (right) recognized and celebrated faculty member John Steven Rice for a distinguished career spanning 26 years as a history professor. Rice was among 12 retiring faculty who collectively represented 190 years of teaching experience, and who were honored at a special ceremony April 21.

South Texas College math instructor Rosana Carpio made South Texas College feel like Harvard University.

That was the message from a student one year following instructor evaluations at the close of the semester, and it’s an anecdote Carpio said she looks back on fondly as it describes her commitment to teaching as well as the students themselves. 

In fact, over the course of her 25 years with STC, Carpio said she had one major rule that she never broke, which was to ensure she challenged her students as much as possible so they worked to their full potential. 

“I took it as a compliment because I was known for being strict,” Carpio said, referring to the Harvard comparison. “If I had a due date well then that was my due date and no one could tell me different. I used that to teach responsibility to my students.”

Serving South Texas College as a math instructor from 1995 to 2022, Carpio said she initially came to the United States from Peru in 1988 with hopes of attaining a master’s degree in mathematics. Following teaching stints at Texas Tech University and Odessa College, she moved to the Valley in 1995 and was hired at what was then known as South Texas Community College (STCC).

Over the next two decades, Carpio said STC became integrated within her own family as well. Her two young daughters, Sophia and Maria grew up among the faculty, which prompted an early love for education.

Sofia is currently studying for her doctorate in Physical Therapy and Maria recently graduated from UT-Austin and will be soon be headed to law school.  

“I remember bringing my daughters to work with me over the summers where they met Dr. (Ali) Esmaeili and all the instructors and chairs…I think the fact that they were in this atmosphere helped them to be academically-focused,” Carpio said. “It was the same with my students because I know for a fact that several of those students still talk about me to their children now, not just about the academics but also about responsibility, being honest and having values.” 

Carpio was one of 12 whose careers were celebrated by the college at a special ceremony April for retiring faculty 21.

“I always told my students to choose a career where, every morning when you get up, you’re happy and excited that you have to go to work. I loved every single minute where I got up in the morning…because we love our students, and I think teaching is one of the best professions anyone can have. To be with the students is just a wonderful feeling.”

-Auristela Merlano Lung

STC president Dr. Ricardo J. Solis along with trustees Gary Gurwitz and Paul Rodriguez, vice presidents, staff and administrators all gathered for the honored faculty who represented 190 years of teaching experience; four of whom like Carpio have taught at the college for 25 years or more.

 “Today is about our most important asset, and I have always said since the day I arrived here that it’s all about faculty,” Solis said. “I will keep on saying it, the faculty does not work for me or administrators, we are here to work for the faculty, to make their lives easier and to get out of the way so they can do what they do best and what they have a passion for, and that is to have an impact on people’s lives.”

Since 2016, STC has celebrated those retiring faculty members who are the foundation of the institution, and who have long embraced innovative teaching as well as lifelong learning and a commitment to community service.

Retiring faculty recognized included David E. Laurel (24 years), Mehdi Kolahdouz (25 years), Evaristo Bocanegra (11 years), John Steven Rice (17 years), Moraima Cardenas (13 years), Lazaro Pena (16 years), Maria Terry Tijerina (2 years), Rosana Carpio (27 years), Van Wheat (26 years), Darcy Carpenter (6 years), Delphia May (13 years), Irma Rodriguez (27 years) and Wayne Williams (25 years).

“It’s amazing to see where we are from where we were…it’s wonderful and you all did a great job and you can retire knowing that you did the right thing and you can go on in life and continue to do the right thing by benefitting others,” said trustee Gurwitz, who as a founding board member has also announced that he will be retiring from the board officially on April 26. “I congratulate all of you, and I wish success for all of you. Thank you for the support and really all the work you have done. If it wasn’t for your job, I probably would not have been able to stay here for 29 years.” 

Also at the event, STC recognized its 2021 Professor Emeritus classifications, a rare and honorary title for retiring faculty who will remain active with the college. Education professor Auristela Merlano Lung (22 years) and history professor Gilberto Reyes Jr. (25 years) are now among the five total faculty at the college who have earned the distinction.

Reyes is the former chair of STC’s History and Philosophy Department, president of the South  Texas Faculty Association, a founding member and program coordinator for the college’s Mexican American Studies Program, as well as sat on numerous statewide curriculum committees for Mexican American studies.    

Lung was a long-time mentor for Dual Credit Program students and faculty in Starr County as well as a member of the campus scholarship selection committee over the course of more than two decades with the college. She retired in spring 2021.   

“I always told my students to choose a career where, every morning when you get up, you’re happy and excited that you have to go to work,” said Lung. “I loved every single minute where I got up in the morning…because we love our students, and I think teaching is one of the best professions anyone can have. To be with the students is just a wonderful feeling.”