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UTPA student pursues love of learning, health by earning master's degree
Posted: 05/06/2011
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Ramiro De Leon has always had a fascination with the human body and a passion to help others.

Ramiro De Leon, who will receive his master's degree in nursing, is one of 1,760 students graduating from UTPA Saturday, May 14, 2011.

De Leon - who will receive his master's degree in nursing from The University of Texas-Pan American Saturday, May 14 - found a way to fulfill his desire and learn more about anatomy through nursing.

"I think nursing is very important in people's lives," said De Leon, who has worked in a variety of areas, including labor and delivery, home health and surgery for more than a decade. "To be able to care for an individual, you need to know what you're doing."

To better serve his patients, De Leon continued his education in nursing-first earning a licensed vocational nurse certification and associate degree in nursing from South Texas College, then earning his bachelor's, and now his master's from UTPA-and plans to earn his doctorate in the future.

"I think the quality of education (at UTPA) is great. It's tough, but I managed," said De Leon, who added that faculty members at UTPA were supportive of him as he balanced school while helping his wife care for her mother, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

De Leon is one of 1,760 UTPA students who are expected to graduate during the University's three commencement ceremonies scheduled for 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the McAllen Convention Center. This spring, UTPA anticipates conferring 1,340 bachelor's, 415 master's and five doctoral degrees to students.

At 9 a.m., the University will honor graduates of the Colleges of Business Administration, Engineering and Computer Science and Science and Mathematics. At 1 p.m., UTPA will honor graduates of the Colleges of Education and Health Sciences and Human Services. At 4:30 p.m., the University will honor graduates of the Colleges of Arts and Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Steven Robinson, who is on assignment to the White House Domestic Policy Council from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Department of Education, will give the keynote address at the 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ceremonies.

Robinson, who has more than 15 years of teaching experience in the elementary, secondary and higher education levels, served as the legislative assistant for education in the office of then-Senator Barack Obama. He advised on policy development during Obama's presidential campaign and worked on issues with the presidential transition team. He joined the Department of Education in February 2009 and was assigned to the White House Domestic Policy Council in September of that year.

Prominent local attorney and Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia will deliver the keynote address for the 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

A Texas native, Garcia attended Edinburg High School and earned his bachelor's degree from then-Pan American University in 1970. He was an honors graduate from the University of Houston Bates College of Law and became a member of the State Bar of Texas in 1972.

Garcia was named among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association in 2007 and 2010, listed as Top Plaintiff Attorney in the Valley by Texas Lawyer Magazine and was nominated for the National Trial Lawyer of the Year by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

For more information about the commencement ceremonies, visit the Spring 2011 Commencement website.