The University of Texas-Pan American was recognized recently by the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the University's assistance in recruitment efforts, which helped rank them as one of the top two sectors in the nation in applicants to the agency this past year.
UTPA departments participating in this collaboration were Office of Career Services in the Division of External Affairs and the Office of Information Technology and the Physical Plant staff in the Division of Business Affairs. The Department of Criminal Justice in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences was also cited at the ceremony for its support and assistance with promotion of Border Patrol careers to its students.
"This collaborative partnership with UTPA has and will hopefully continue to have a large impact on keeping us ranked high," said David Ochoa, Supervisory Border Patrol agent and recruitment coordinator, RGV Sector.
During Recruitment Day, UTPA staff provided set-up in the UTPA Fieldhouse and IT assistance for online applicant testing. This event, along with other yearlong recruitment endeavors partnering with UTPA, such as the HESTEC career fair, the annual Law Enforcement Career Fair, and information booth opportunities on campus, has helped enable the RGV Sector to surpass its recruitment goals and initiatives.
"The largest impact was the number of applicants generated from this single recruitment event. More than 250 (Border Patrol) applicants registered online because of the collaborative labors of the RGV Sector recruitment team and UTPA staff," said Susie Chapa, assistant director of UTPA Career Services and career services liaison to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Chapa was awarded a plaque and a gold "Challenge Coin" and UTPA Career Services Director Velinda Reyes also accepted a plaque from the RGV Sector recognizing the University's overall support of the agency's mission.
Chapa said the established relationships and collaborations with administration, faculty and staff at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has allowed UTPA's Career Services staff to work on initiatives of recruitment, professional development in the behavioral sciences, special events and ongoing projects.
"In the areas of criminal justice, working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has allowed the students to prepare and become aware of the federal system and, in particular, employment as a Border Patrol agent. Major events such as the recruitment day in May allowed our students the opportunity to visit with the agents and pretest for future career opportunities," she said.
Ochoa, a 15-year Border Patrol employee, said the agency preferred, but did not require, degreed applicants, particularly in criminal justice, and indicated that many UTPA graduates have been employed as Border Patrol agents in the RGV Sector which covers 17,000-square miles of Southeast Texas.
"I have 14 recruiters alone that have graduated from UTPA," he said. "We offer a great career opportunity in the federal government with excellent compensation and benefits. The number of agents employed in this sector brings great economic benefits to the community as well."
Dr. Van A. Reidhead, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said he was pleased with the recognition by the agency and thanked Dr. Daniel Dearth, associate professor of criminal justice, and others in that department who, he said, have built such a strong trust relationship with the Border Patrol and other agencies.
"Without the education provided by the faculty, UTPA alums would not be able to serve with the professionalism that distinguishes them," he said. "We are also deeply appreciative of the professionalism, creativity and hard work of the UTPA Career Services team."
For more information on the services provided by the UTPA Office of Career Services, call 956/381-2243 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.