FESTIBA moves full STEAM ahead with GEAR UP Days
Posted: 03/20/2014
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Aspiring physician Dominique Montelongo learned that the arts and humanities can help her with her dreams of entering the medical field.

The University of Texas-Pan American began its annual Festival of International Books and Arts Thursday, March 20, 2014 with many activities. This year's theme, Creating Innovations in Education, seeks to promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and humanities, and math), which shows how the arts inspire new developments in science and technology.

Montelongo was one of 400 high school freshmen who came to The University of Texas-Pan American Thursday, March 20 for its annual Festival of International Books and Arts (FESTIBA), which runs through March 23. This year's theme is Creating Innovations in Education and focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and humanities, and mathematics), which explains how the arts and humanities are used to inspire new developments in science and technology.

It was there where she learned that UTPA offers a program in medical Spanish.

"I want to be a doctor, so I can take (the classes)," said Montelongo, who attends La Villa Early College High School and plans to attend The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for her undergraduate and medical degrees.

The high school freshmen, who came as part of FESTIBA's GEAR UP Days, learned the many ways the arts and sciences complement each other in work and life in workshops with faculty members and other artists. They also heard Rio Grande Valley natives Sarah Rodriguez-Pratt, an author and publisher, and Steven Escobar (BA '93), an Emmy Award-winning producer, talk about their journeys toward success.

Valley View High School freshmen Jose Pesina and Mariahm Mancillas said they liked how the speakers explained their work and how they achieved their dreams in a way to which they could relate and feel inspired.

"They did it, so why can't we," Pesina said.

Mancillas said she is still deciding what type of job she wants when she's older, but appreciated how the presenters made their work sound so interesting.

"This is why I like these things, so I can start knowing about different careers," Mancillas said.

While the high school students were being introduced to the University, UTPA faculty members and students hosted numerous workshops and demonstrations that promoted the union of arts and sciences. One presentation was the "Atlatl Construction and Use" put on by the Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS), where graduate students discussed the history and construction of the spear-throwing devices. They also demonstrated how to use an atlatl during an activity outside.

To further its outreach to the Valley community, UTPA teamed up with the Texas Book Festival for its Reading Rock Stars program, which sends children's book authors to area elementary schools to read their works and hand out copies of their books.

FESTIBA continues Friday, March 21 with its Librarians and Educators Day, which will include a Congressional Roundtable Discussion on literacy headed by U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa and UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. Another 400 students will come to campus for the second day of GEAR UP Days, and the Reading Rock Stars will visit more Valley schools.

And Friday evening, El Jardín del Arte Community Festival at the Edinburg City Hall grounds will offer numerous activities for everyone, including live music, art displays and readings from local authors.

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See more of the day's activities in this photo gallery.