Juan Padron always dreamed his children would become multilingual, mastering Spanish, then Mandarin Chinese.
But when his daughter Daniela was diagnosed with having hyperlexia -- a condition in which people have difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language -- his hopes were almost shattered.
Those hopes were restored when Daniela began receiving speech therapy from The University of Texas-Pan American's Speech and Hearing Center, housed in the College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS). After about two and a half years of treatment, the now-5-year-old girl is able to communicate with no problems.
And she and her younger brother Joaquin are tackling their second language, Spanish, at a summer camp geared toward teaching children another language.
"I consider the work that they did at the clinic an integral part of the puzzle we were trying to put together to help out our daughter," Padron, an Edinburg resident, said. "We were very grateful that the center worked so well with our daughter ... I want to pay (them) back."
To show his gratitude, Padron, business manager of Safeguard Insurance Agency, and his brother Abraham Padron (BBA '91), the insurance agency's principal, have made a donation through their business to the center to help its staff purchase much needed audiovisual equipment to treat their patients. Juan Padron also teaches an insurance class for UTPA's College of Business Administration.
"Safeguard Insurance's gift shows the level of commitment the Padron brothers have for UT Pan American and its students' success and we sincerely thank them for that," said Jorge Gutierrez, development officer for UT Pan American's Office of Development.
Abraham Padron, who played tennis for the University and received a full scholarship, said their contribution is the least they could do.
"I'm very grateful to the University and all it's done for us, not only for my niece and nephew, but also for the education it gave me," he said. "(UT Pan American) has done so much for us and anything we can do wouldn't be enough to show our gratitude."
Abraham Padron said he and his brother plan to continue their contributions through their company to the University and they already have some ideas as to how to help UT Pan American's academics and athletics.
"It's major for our company to be able to give back to the University," he said. "Our goal is to help the University and see what we can do for them."
The audiovisual equipment replacement is a big start, said officials with the CHSHS and the center.
"The equipment that will be replaced is very important to us because (the center) is a training facility at the University, so the students are able to use that equipment to watch their videos and learn from it," said Lyena Garza the center's clinical manager. "We, as supervisors, have them watch (the videos) to teach them how to improve in certain areas and learn from their experience."
Students and faculty also use the equipment to record and collect data to make diagnoses on patients.
The center provides services to people of all ages, although lately most of the faculty and students' patients are children, Garza said.
Most of their patients learn about the center through word of mouth - that's how the Padron's found out about the services the center offers - and the center offers a sliding payment scale to help families with lower incomes, she said.
To have the family of a former patient give back and so soon after treatment was completed is humbling, she said.
"I feel very honored," Garza said. "It's the best compliment that a person or a facility can receive."
Dr. John Ronnau, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, said the University is dedicated to serving its community and the Padron brothers' gift shows UT Pan American's and the college's commitment is having an impact on the Rio Grande Valley.
"It's another sign of how pertinent all professions in our college are to the needs of our community and it's a demonstration that they are being responsive when you see people wanting to give back," Ronnau said. "It shows the impact that we're having."
For more information on how to give to The University of Texas-Pan American, contact the Office of Development at (956) 665-5301.