Judge Ricardo Hinojosa Named Border Texan of the Year

Judge Ricardo Hinojosa Named Border Texan of the Year

Being named Border Texan of the Year is not an honor to be taken lightly. And this year, the title goes to Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, BA ’72, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus.

Hinojosa’s distinction was announced this week by BorderFest, an annual celebration that takes place in Hidalgo. A ceremony will be held in his honor on March 6.

Although the judge has a long list of accomplishments behind him—from being the youngest federal judge in the nation (at the time of his appointment) to reducing disparities in drug sentencing—this one is really something to be proud of, and he’s in good company. Previous Border Texans of the Year include names as big as former President George W. Bush, Gov. Rick Perry, and former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, LLB ’67, BA ’92, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna.

Hinojosa is a strong supporter of UT—he’s a past president and current council member of the Texas Exes, and served on the search committees for recently hired athletic director Steve Patterson and football coach Charlie Strong.

We asked Hinojosa about this newest honor, his inspirations, and his time at UT.

What does it mean to be named Border Texan of the Year?

Receiving Border Texan of the Year is a very special award to me. It’s an honor to be selected based on the people who have received the award in the past. I grew up on the Texas border, so South Texas has always been my home. It’s not only special for me, but also for those of us who have grown up in this area. I still really enjoy living on the border.

What sparked your interest in the law?

I actually made the decision to study law when I was just a freshman in high school. That’s when I knew that I wanted to go to law school. I was really interested in performing some kind of public service, and I thought that this would be a great way for me to do that.

Could you tell me a little bit about your time at UT?

My four years at UT were a wonderful experience for me. I had the opportunity to meet many people and to let them enrich my life during my time there. The university exposed me to individuals from all over the country. It was an educational experience not only because of the high quality of the classroom experience, but also because of the people I met there, became friends with, and learned from.

Did you have a favorite class?

It’s hard to pick which class at UT was my favorite. I really enjoyed them all. Although I was a government major, I have to say that the courses I took at the School of Social Work were very interesting to me. Based on my job as a judge, they were very helpful and taught me a lot.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face in order to be where you are today?

My challenges have been the same challenges that everyone has to face in life, such as going to school and having to decide what you want to give your life to, as far as your profession goes. I was really lucky that I had the job opportunities that I had. I was able to move back home to McAllen. Although it was the job that paid the least, the big question at that point in my life was, ‘Do I want to go home and perform a public service by practicing law?’ I’m glad that I did.

Do you have anyone that inspires you?

Well, my parents have certainly inspired me all throughout my life. Another individual who inspired me was my cousin, Dr. Mario Ramirez. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes. He was also awarded Border Texan of the Year in the past. He practiced medicine and performed a valuable service to many people by doing this. He also served as the judge in Starr County.

What do you like most about Austin—and Texas in general?

Well, there are too many good things to name. The University of Texas is definitely one of them. Another one of the things I like about Austin is the Lady Bird Johnson Trail. One of my favorite things about the state of Texas in general is how much diversity there is. I really like the pride that we all have as being a part of Texas.

 Photo courtesy Hortencia Rios.


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