Dr. Beatriz Espinoza (BS '90), president of Coastal Bend College (CBC) in Beeville, knows about hard work and the importance of a good education.
That knowledge has served the Rio Grande Valley native and alumna of The University of Texas-Pan American well in her career. In June 2012, Espinoza was selected from five finalists to become the first woman, and Hispanic, to lead Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Texas.
"It was an amazing experience being one of the five finalists, especially since we were all so different," said Espinoza, who praised the CBC's board of directors' exploration of diverse backgrounds in the selection process for its president.
Espinoza grew up in Alton and worked alongside her seven brothers and sisters as a migrant worker as a child, going to elementary school during the day and then spending her evenings and weekends picking produce in the fields of south Texas.
"Knowing the alternative made studying a cinch," said Espinoza who graduated from Mission High School. "My migrant field work experience taught me the work ethic I needed to commit to obtaining advanced degrees."
She credits UTPA for being the first step in her post high school education and a true stepping-stone to her career.
"It was UTPA that allowed me the venue to explore and achieve beyond my humble migrant student status," Espinoza said. "Through the University, I found direction, support, guidance, high standards and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Simply put, UTPA gave me the foundation to excel in higher education."
Espinoza has a bachelor's degree in psychology from UTPA. She earned a doctorate in rehabilitation psychology and educational psychology and a master's degree in rehabilitation psychology, both from The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She is an experienced educator and college administrator with 25 years in higher education.
In addition to teaching courses as a faculty member at various universities including the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, and Arizona Western College, Espinoza conducted research and has been published in many prestigious journals such as the Journal of Social Science and the Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling.
Furthermore, Espinoza served as a faculty sponsor for student groups such as the Latino Student Organization at the University of North Texas, and she also developed a bilingual (English-Spanish) rehabilitation internship program at the University of Iowa.
She is passionate and dedicated to the advancement of the Hispanic community, as well as committed to ensuring equal treatment and access to services for people with disabilities, minorities and people who need rehabilitation services.
Prior to her current position as president of CBC, Espinoza served as vice chancellor for Education Planning and Services at Yuba Community College District in Marysville, Calif.
As president of CBC, Espinoza hopes to reach out to students and help them achieve their goals.
"I have the responsibility of passing along opportunities for better futures and quality of life for south Texans and beyond," said Espinoza. "Community colleges such as CBC open doors to new vistas of hopeful scientists, engineers, technicians, nurses, accountants and so much more. I love being in the loop of success."
Espinoza is proud to be educating the next generation of diverse professionals at CBC, stating that student success is always her first priority.
"I get to live the dream. Everyone else should be given that opportunity too," she said.