Event planning has always been a hobby for Debbie Jimenez, a Mission resident who is busy coordinating weddings for her loved ones.
"The owners of the venue I'm using for my nephew's wedding said 'you sound like you know what you're doing'," said Jimenez, who took the course fall 2013. "I told them I was planning this wedding and took a course with Letty (instructor)."
The Office of Continuing Education, in partnership with Lovegevity Wedding Planning Institute, will offer the Certificate in Wedding and Event Planning for those interested in starting their own event planning business, looking for a job within the industry or planning their family and friends' weddings.
Classes begin March 22 and will be held every other Saturday starting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with online studies in between. Tuition fee is $1,300 per person and includes an online curriculum, online student center, and wedding and event planning software. The course also provides for the textbook and certificate exam fee. Class will be held at the McAllen Teaching Site and other event locations as planned by the instructor. This is the second time UTPA will offer the certificate program.
Mary Vega, an event specialist for the City of McAllen under Parks and Recreation, said she was motivated to continue her education after receiving The Valley Wedding Pages Scholarship, which provides a limited number of student scholarships to help cover partial registration fee.
"I'm very happy where I am," Vega said. "I was named Exemplary Employee because I decided to pursue my certification."
Participants will learn the "how-to" for the industry and gain insights during class and at events that will help transform ordinary spaces into a client's vision. In-class sessions not only allow for instructor interaction but also new perspectives and insider information from guest speakers, giving students the opportunity to begin networking with local professionals.
"I learned a lot of statistics, different types of weddings, different types of cultures and the role of every one that participates," said Jimenez. "Details that we take for granted make a wedding look better."
The course will be led by Leticia Guerra-Cantu, renowned event planner and owner of The Valley Wedding Pages, LLC. Students will be given real life experience by assisting at events coordinated by Guerra-Cantu.
"I heard about the course on the news and I decided to do it because it's something different," said Ruby Escobedo, a UTPA Business Administration major and hopeful event planner. "It's very hands-on experience; the instructor actually took us to events, weddings and grand openings."
The last cohort of participants not only included aspiring business owners but soon-to-be brides such as Kristina Reyes who is getting married this May. Reyes took the course with her mother to get a better understanding of how to plan her own wedding.
"I didn't know much about weddings and I was able to finalize my own timelines," the Weslaco native said. "I did a lot of things I didn't know I was able to do and I guess it saved me a lot of money."
For more information, contact the Office of Continuing Education at (956) 665-2071 or visit their website at utpa.edu/ce.