Attending The University of Texas-Pan American allowed 21-year-old Carlos Tijerina Ibarra to pursue two loves: computers and soccer. It also provided him with a quality education that landed him a job with an emerging software consulting company right after graduation.
"I am confident in my skills ..." said Tijerina, who is graduating Saturday, May 12, with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering -- along with his twin brother Luis, who is receiving a bachelor's degree in computer science, and more than 1,600 other students. "Here at Pan Am they don't just teach you how to perform your job, they teach the set of skills you have to apply to perform well. I think for computer science and computer engineering that's the key."
Tijerina, who came to the University from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, said he chose to attend Pan Am for its high quality academics, affordable price and close location to his family. While at UTPA, he made the dean's list several times, served as a mentor in the Computer Science and Engineering Mentoring Program, worked as a research assistant and participated in several clubs, including the Association for Computing Machinery and the Bronc Soccer Club.
"I met a lot of friends here and I have a lot of friends who come from Reynosa every year," Tijerina said.
Tijerina will begin working with Silicon Alley Group Inc., a New Jersey-based software developer, as a consultant. He's not sure where the company will send him, but he said he is looking forward to his new job and hopes to earn a master's degree, preferably at UTPA.
The University will graduate 1,631 people during its Spring 2012 Commencement ceremonies at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the McAllen Convention Center.
At the morning ceremony, 183 graduates from the College of Science and Mathematics, 279 from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and 126 from the College of Engineering and Computer Science will be awarded degrees.
The University will confer degrees upon 258 graduates from the College of Arts and Humanities and 280 graduates from the College of Health Sciences and Human Services during the 1 p.m. ceremony.
Those receiving degrees during the final ceremony include 320 graduates from the College of Education and 185 from the College of Business Administration.
State Senator José Rodríguez (BA '71) will deliver the 9 a.m. commencement speech. Rodríguez, who was elected to represent District 29 in November 2010, is an attorney who has devoted his life to public service. The son of migrant farm workers, Rodríguez worked in fields throughout the country to help support his family. After earning his degree from then-Pan American University, he earned his law degree from the National Law Center at George Washington University.
Rodríguez has more than three decades of experience in law and served as the El Paso County attorney for 17 years before his election to the State Senate.
Dr. Dana Gonzalez (BS '98), an obstetrician and gynecologist based out of Victoria, will give the 1 p.m. keynote address. Gonzalez, an Alamo native, is a child of first-generation Mexican-American migrant farm workers and aspired to become a physician since her youth. She graduated third in her class at the South Texas High School for Health Professions and was accepted into UTPA's Premedical Honors College Program.
Gonzalez earned her medical degree at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
PSJA Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Daniel King (BS '76, M.Ed. '77) will be the keynote speaker for the 5 p.m. ceremony. King, who has been a public school superintendent for 13 years, was named superintendent of the year in 2006 by the Texas Association of School Boards. As superintendent of Hidalgo ISD and PSJA ISD, King implemented several initiatives that transformed those school systems from low-performing into successful districts that prepare their students for college.
PSJA's dropout prevention and recovery model inspired state legislation (SB 975) and has been replicated by other districts.
For more information about the UTPA Spring 2012 Commencement, visit www.utpa.edu/graduation.