In an effort to increase funding for higher education and encourage first generation college students to continue their schooling, Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke to a large crowd during a state visit at The University of Texas-Pan American Thursday, August 5 at the UTPA Student Union.
Perry said he hopes to expand three of the state's higher education programs - the First Generation Grant program; the College Access Loan program, also known as the Hinson-Hazelwood loan program; and the state-funded Work-study program.
During the visit, Perry met with first generation college students, and Texas GRANT award recipients. Representatives from the College Republicans of South Texas and the Political Science Association were given the opportunity to speak about what a higher education has done for them.
"My parents drove from Cuidad Mexico to Chicago to only discover labor work," said Paul Mason, UTPA political science student. " They came from Mexico without an education, but through hard work and dedication they have put two children through college. Our parents have worked hard so that we could have better opportunities."
Also attending the news conference were University administrators including Dr. Rodolfo Arevalo, provost/vice-president of Academic Affairs; Dr. John Edwards, vice-president of Enrollment and Student Services; Roland S. Arriola, vice-president of External Affairs; and Jim Langabeer, vice-president for Business Affairs.
"This year we celebrating our 75th anniversary, and having Governor Perry with us today is an excellent way to begin the year," said Arevalo during his opening remarks. "On behalf of our President Dr. Miguel Nevárez, we welcome Governor Perry to our campus."
Perry - who is the 47th governor of Texas - is also a first generation college student. Originally from Paint Creek, Texas, he began his career in public services as a state representative in 1984. He has served in the Texas House of Representatives, as Texas Agricultural commissioner and Lieutenant Governor.
Perry graduated from Texas A&M University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
"I would not be standing here today had it not been for the opportunity to leave a small farm and receive and education in a higher institution," he said. "And educated Texan inherits a world of opportunities."