Longhorn pride is stronger than ever in the Rio Grande Valley, as last night’s Texas Exes Brownsville Chapter Student Send-Off proved.
The 19th-annual event, held at the IBC Bank in Brownsville, celebrates new students as they prepare to start their freshman year on the Forty Acres. UT President Bill Powers is a regular attendee. His presence each year sends a powerful message to Valley-area families, many of whom have first-generation college students: Your children are in good hands in Austin.
Plus there’s the glam factor of having the University president jet in just for your party. “It’s a bit like the paparazzi descend when President Powers is there,” says the chapter’s communications chair, Letty Fernandez, BJ ’78, Life Member. “Everyone is so excited to take a picture with him.”
This year’s event was the biggest ever, with more than 220 people in attendance, Fernandez says. In addition to Powers, other key attendees included Texas Exes president John Beckworth, Texas Exes CEO Leslie Cedar, English professor Oscar Casares, development officer Catherine Ott, and more.
Alex Salinas, director of UT’s Valley Admissions Center, called the event an emotional celebration. “Throughout the year, I get to know these students’ hardships and experiences,” Salinas says. “I feel their excitement when they get admitted to UT, and last night, I shared their peace of mind that they made the right choice.”
President Powers with Brownsville students. Photo courtesy Letty Fernandez.