The late Rafael A. "Felo" and Carmen Guerra, remembered for their philanthropy and strong commitment to higher education in South Texas, have been honored by The University of Texas System Board of Regents and The University of Texas-Pan American with the naming of the UTPA Honors Program in their memory.
"There could be no better role models for our young people in South Texas than Mr. and Mrs. Guerra, and we look forward to sharing their story of philanthropy and caring with the many students who will pass through the Rafael A. 'Felo' and Carmen Guerra Honors Program in the years to come," said UTPA Interim President Charles A. Sorber.
The Rafael Guerra family said that they and, more importantly, all the students who have been helped by their parents are honored to have the UTPA Honors Program named after Rafael "Felo" and Carmen Guerra.
"We are sure that they are both smiling down on all of us and would want us to use this program to assist as many more students as possible," said the family. "We also offer thanks for the manyfold blessings we have received from the Lord and to be able to share our blessings with others. Mil gracias UTPA."
With cattle brands and ranch holdings that date back to the early 1870s, the Guerras' success in ranching and business afforded them the opportunities to give back to their community, a quality their children have inherited and carry on. To date, the Guerra family has contributed countless hours and monetary contributions to UTPA and other organizations and efforts to increase higher education opportunities for South Texas students.
An example of their passion to help others reach their potential is a scholarship program the Guerra family initiated and heads that has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships to students residing in the communities surrounding the Guerra ranch properties. Approximately 60 percent of the scholarship recipients have chosen UTPA as their school of choice.
The UTPA Honors Program, founded in 1963, provides students with an enriched and challenging liberal arts curriculum, offers students the chance to conduct research at the undergraduate level, and the opportunity to exchange ideas in a challenging and supportive academic environment through honors classes, educational travel, an honor society, and developmental seminars. From 1985 through fall 2008, the Honors Program has graduated 199 students.
"The decision by the UT System Board of Regents to grant this honorific naming will have profound resonance on the lives of the students of South Texas for decades to come," said Dr. Kenneth L. Buckman, Honors Program director. "We are aware of the tremendous dedication the Guerra Family has had to education and to The University of Texas-Pan American, and this represents a continuation of their extraordinary commitment."