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Home | Tag Archives: epcc

Tag Archives: epcc

UTEP, TTUHSC El Paso, NMSU, EPCC, DACC unite to encourage community blood donations

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College and Doña Ana Community College are uniting efforts to encourage the community to donate blood and save lives.

A combined goal of 100 pints of blood is set for a two-day blood drive that will take place on the UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso campuses.

The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m., June 25 and 26 at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on the UTEP campus and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 25 in Academic Education Classroom 221 on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

“It’s great to see UTEP and all other universities working together to assure there is blood on the shelves for the community we serve; it’s truly amazing!” said Martin Gomez, donor recruitment manager at Vitalant.

“Blood should always be there waiting for patients. Patients should never have to wait for the blood.”

To ensure that blood donors are in a safe environment that upholds local health ordinances and social distancing protocols, appointments made in advance are required.

Appointments can be made at (search for sponsor code “UTEP” or “TexasTech”) or by calling 877-258-4825.

Blood donors are required to wear face coverings during the drive.

EPCC Forensics Team excels in Virtual Tournament

The El Paso Community College (EPCC) Forensics Team excelled in the 2020 ProtoCommunications Asynchronous National Tournament hosted by San Diego State University, Santiago Canyon College, and Mount San Antonio College.

Daniel Eduardo Gamboa placed 5th in Prose Interpretation and Damaris Ostos placed 4th in Dramatic Interpretation.

“The entire team worked hard all year and it’s good to see that they still have an outlet to perform and showcase their work before the end of the academic school year,” EPCC officials shared.

The tournament involved the students recording themselves at home and then working with their coaches to find the best performance to submit for review.

The videos were judged over the course of three weeks by various judges online.

While this is far from the standard that our students are accustomed to, they rose to the challenge in working to prepare for this tournament in addition to keeping up with their online class work.

The EPCC team competed with students from across the country as we all tried to come to terms with the new format of competition online.

“While the students couldn’t meet face to face with their fellow competitors, they learned that speech and debate is more than meeting together for tournaments. It is about sharing ideas,” team officials added.

El Paso Community College honors 1900+ Graduates

With a total of 1,930 associate degrees and certificates of completion were awarded during this difficult time, El Paso Community College (EPCC) officials and staff proudly honored their graduates for the spring 2020 semester.

“You have worked hard, dedicated yourself to your studies and now have reached degree completion. EPCC is very proud of you,” EPCC President, Dr. William Serrata said in a recent message to graduates.  “This large graduating class represents the resilience of our student body and sacrifices students make to complete their degrees.”

Earning a college degree is an important accomplishment and for many EPCC students, they are the first in their family to do so.

“Achieving this goal is even more significant in light of challenges students have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic which postponed the spring graduation ceremony,” EPCC officials added.

A complete list of graduates can be viewed by clicking here.

A total of 1,930 associate degrees and certificates of completion were awarded as follows:

Associate of Arts                              1,156
Associate of Science                           277
Associate of Arts Teaching                  84
Associate of Applied Science            339
Certificates                                             74

El Paso Community College highlights training, experience of essential Healthcare Heroes

With essential, frontline healthcare workers in the spotlight during the battle against COVID-19, El Paso Community College (EPCC) is highlighting their contribution to the community’s safety and the college’s role in training them.

“El Paso Community College has a long history of training our community’s workforce,” EPCC President Dr. William Serrata said.  “EPCC has prepared many of our region’s first responders and health care workers with a high-quality education so they can help you and your family.  We are proud of our graduates working in many fields throughout our community.” Dr. William Serrata, EPCC President said.

Each year, more than 125 students graduate from EPCC in a variety of healthcare fields, including the Nursing Program and the Respiratory Care Technology Program, which are the types of fields directly involved in the care of patients with various forms of acute or chronic respiratory illnesses, such as the Coronavirus.

In addition to these healthcare workers, EPCC trains first responders such as Firefighters and Emergency Medical Techs (EMT) and Paramedics.

The Emergency Medical Services Professionals program trains Emergency Medical Techs and Paramedics, graduating almost 150 first responders each year in a variety of settings.

“At EPCC the Emergency Medical Services Professions program, not only trains traditional EPCC students, but trains soldiers from Fort Bliss and students from area high schools through the college’s Dual Credit program,” Antonio Ayub, EPCC Emergency Medical Services Instructor, explains.

EPCC also trains other heroes who have key roles assisting in this pandemic such as Medical Assistants, Surgical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) students, and Medical Imaging Technology-Radiographers.

SISD, EPCC to provide virtual Operation College Bound for seniors to enroll in college courses

The Socorro Independent School District, in partnership with El Paso Community College, will be a conducting a virtual Operation College Bound event, in which SISD seniors can register online for classes at EPCC.

The Operation College Bound enrollment services will be available May 12-14 for all SISD seniors at each SISD high school.

“Making sure our students are college and career ready remains among our top priorities, despite the challenges we are facing in our current pandemic situation,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. “Team SISD will continue to remove obstacles and provide opportunities so that our seniors can enroll in college and/or universities. I’m grateful to our partners at El Paso Community College who also are doing everything they can to ease the transition from high school to post-secondary education for our students.”

The virtual Operation College Bound will allow seniors the ease and convenience to enroll online with assistance from representatives from EPCC.

“Team SISD is dedicated to helping students seize their opportunities, including giving students a head start to college with the time and assistance to complete the enrollment process,” district officials shared.

“Graduating from high school is an important milestone, but it is just the beginning. We are proud to partner with SISD to help students invest in their futures by beginning college this summer at El Paso Community College (EPCC),” Dr. William Serrata, EPCC President said.  “Despite the current circumstances, students do not have to delay their higher education aspirations.”

The seniors at every comprehensive high school in SISD and Options High School will have a time specially designated for them based on last name to participate in the online enrollment process; to sign up, they can use this link.

The virtual Operation College Bound days will be:

 May 12

Eastlake High School

12:30-1:30 p.m.           A-Chavira/Cheeseman- Giron

1:30-2:30 p.m.             Golston-Marioni/Mark- Perea

2:30-3:30 p.m.             Peregrino-San Miguel/Sanchez-Z


May 13

Americas High School/Options High School

9:00-10:00 a.m.           A-Chavez/Chavira-Ger

10:00-11:00 a.m.         Gas-Lowe/Lucero-O

11:00 a.m.-noon          P-R/S-Z

Socorro High School

12:30-1:30 p.m.           A-C/D-Hernandez, G

1:30-2:30 p.m.             Hernandez, H-Mora/ Morales- R, Rodriguez, R

2:30-3:30 p.m.             Rodriguez, S-Z/ HPA & Fire Tech

Montwood High School

3:30-4:30 p.m.             A-Flore

4:40-5:30 p.m.             Franco-Marquez

5:30-6:30 p.m.             Martinez-Yepez

May 14

El Dorado High School

12:30-1:30 p.m.           A-Gone

1:30-2:30 p.m.             Gonzalez-W

2:30-3:30 p.m.             O-Z


Pebble Hills High School

3:30-4:30                    A-H

4:40-5:30                    I-Q

5:30-6:30                    R-Z

El Paso Community College Culinary Arts Faculty, Tejano Food Pantry Help Students in Need

When Daniel Guerra was an elementary student, he remembers his mom taking him to get free lunch with his sister at school during the summer.  

Guerra, who is now a chef in El Paso Community College’s (EPCC) Culinary Arts Program, says this experience, combined with knowing that hunger also affects college students too, inspired him to create Chefs Share along with other chefs in the program.   For the past month, this program has been preparing and delivering meals to EPCC students in need.

EPCC knows that food insecurity is a common challenge faced by college students even during regular times.  Guerra explained that because of the COVID-19 pandemic that students have even greater need intensified by the inability to gather resources, including money for food.

As a result, he and the other chefs knew they needed to do something to help.

Chef Patrick Rosser was among the first to volunteer when he knew he had a chance to help EPCC students.  He says he was overwhelmed by the willingness of faculty and staff to put in hours of hard work to make this happen.  “With so many people dealing with the extremely negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m honored to help in some small manner,” Chef Rosser said.

Then other Culinary Arts Program faculty and staff jumped into action, developing a plan to prepare meals and food care packages for students.   They also partnered with the Tejano Food Pantry which was created by students in EPCC’s Student Government Association for students in order to address food insecurity.

The Tejano Food Pantry staff is the point of contact for Chefs Share meal distribution.   So far, they have reached out to hundreds of students to check on them and let them know about program.  “When we were approached by the chefs for this initiative, it was seen as another opportunity to continuously advocate for students,” Arvis Jones, Director of Student Leadership and Campus Life, said. “Our goal is to help students through this crisis as much as we can.”

Each week the chefs prepare boxed meals along with a care package of snacks and baked goods.  Since the program started in late March, more than 500 pounds of food has been prepared.

The chefs personally deliver all the meals themselves already logging more than 1,000 miles across the county from Red Sands, to Tornillo to Canutillo.  Students are happy and relieved to see them arrive.

Jennifer, who only wanted to share her first name, is in her second semester at EPCC.  She works, is a single mom to a 3-year-old son and is a full-time student.  She says it is a struggle to make ends meet during normal circumstances, but that it has been even harder after she lost her job due to COVID-19 closures.  “When I got the call from EPCC, I felt like someone cared,” Jennifer said.  “When the chefs showed up with a meal for my son and I, that was one less thing I had to worry about that day.”

Making that difference and giving back is what drives the chefs to do as much as they can. “When there are hungry students suffering through a pandemic, in need of a delicious cooked meal, that is when a chef should step in and help out,” Chef Andres Diaz said.  “While I can’t contribute to the front lines in the medical field, this is a way I can use my skill set to make a difference.”

The EPCC Culinary Arts Program has a long history of making a difference by giving back and supporting the community in times of need.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, chefs, along with their students, volunteered to prepare meals for evacuees sheltered at the convention center.  They’ve prepared Thanksgiving Dinners for youth at the Child Crisis Center, supported the Ronald McDonald House, Villa Maria and countless other organizations.   EPCC chefs and students regularly volunteer their time and talent in many ways.  “It’s rewarding to be able to help our community when it needs it the most,” Ezequiel Gutierrez, Culinary Arts Lab Assistant said.

To sustain this critical effort, EPCC Chefs have been relying on the generosity of program partners like Sysco and others who have donated product to make the meals possible along with monetary donations from individuals.  The Foundation for EPCC has started the StayStrong Student Emergency fund which provides support for students.

To donate, click here and select the “StayStrong Fund”.  Donations to support Chefs Share can be made by scrolling down to the “EPCC Cares, Chefs Share” fund.

Chef Guerra says the project is an important opportunity for the chefs to make an impact and put their skills to good use.  More than 200 meals have been made and delivered so far.

From chicken, green chile and cheese on house made bread, served with chips and salad to roasted chicken, macaroni and cheese along with stewed tomatoes and cobbler, each meal is prepared with care.  With continued support from community donations, Guerra hopes the program can serve more students.

Reflecting on his childhood experience and the impact he can make now, Guerra says, “it’s my turn to pay it forward.”

EPCC Promotes Service during National Community College Month

El Paso Community College (EPCC) students, faculty and staff have stepped up to assist the community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Annually during April’s National Community College Month, EPCC highlights its high standards in educating the area’s workforce.  This April, EPCC’s place in the community is even more important.

EPCC Math Instructor Fan Chen, with other community members, is making medical masks using a 3D printer supplied by EPCC.

The group, El Paso Aid, has already received hundreds of local orders, as well as, orders from New York City and other U. S. locations.

Another group at EPCC answering the call is the student Philosophy Club. After being recognized by the Mayor of El Paso for their community work in November, the club continues their work by raising over $1,000 to purchase masks for frontline workers and those who are homeless.

Now the Philosophy Club has gone to the sewing machine. Under the guidance of the local medical community, the 15-member group is making their own masks to give to those in need.

“We decided to practice what we preach and use practical philosophy to help others,” Daniel Avitia, EPCC Philosophy President said. “This is a cultivating experience motivating the need for social solidarity.”

As EPCC continues to educate and assist students through distance technology, awareness of the El Paso community is foremost in the workings of the college.

EPCC remembers founding President Dr. Alfredo De Los Santos

On March 8, 2020, higher education lost a visionary leader in higher education: Dr. Alfredo de los Santos

Dr de los Santos was the founding president of EPCC and served from 1971-76. He strived to build a college to serve the students and community. More than a half a century later, his impact on EPCC is still seen today.

David Henry, recently retired EPCC English Faculty, gives De Los Santos credit for creating a shared governance model of leadership and emphasized a college focused on student success which still exists today. “Through his great force of character, Dr. de los Santos directed every aspect of the birth and infancy of the college. He interviewed all new administrators and faculty, looking to see if they shared his vision,” Henry said.

When reflecting on EPCC during the college’s 50th Anniversary in 2019, De Los Santos said, his original vision for EPCC had been fulfilled in three ways: “On a broader scale, EPCC has helped educate thousands of individuals in El Paso County who might never have the

opportunity. As well, many of the students who began their higher education at El Paso Community College have transferred to The University of Texas at El Paso. Thirdly, the community college has helped to prepare the work force that has helped employers—and has helped to drive the economy.”

Dr. de los Santos was proud of his work at El Paso Community College. “It would be almost impossible to measure to positive impact that

El Paso Community College has had on thousands of El Paso students over the years. Working to found the institution was an interesting adventure,” de los Santos said in a 2019 interview.

“I still have clear memories of working with groups of people in the community, hiring the administrators and the faculty playing basketball with the students—full court on the outdoor at Logan Heights–the hundreds of individuals who provided help and support.”

EPCC mourns the passing of Dr. Alfredo de los Santos, our college’s first President. “Dr. De Los Santos was a trailblazing leader who was among the first Latino community college presidents in the nation,” Dr. William Serrata, EPCC’s current president said. “He is known for his lifetime commitment to higher education and for his visionary leadership at EPCC. We are grateful for his legacy and impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Read more about Dr. de los Santos’ legacy and impact via this article and these testimonials

Alfredo de los Santos (R), Joe Foster, 1st EPCC Board President (2nd R) Open 1st Campus Logan Heights 1972 | Photo courtesy EPCC
Alfredo de los Santos (circa 1974) | Photo courtesy EPCC

‘Valiant Women’ honored at EPCC event

The El Paso Community College (EPCC) Diversity and Inclusion Programs (EPCC) recently celebrated the history of women with their annual Diamond Awards.

This year’s event: “Envisioning 2020: Valiant Women Leading the Way.”

“The history of women is important to remember, all the achievements that women have accomplished,” said Olga Chavez, director of the EPCC Diversity and Inclusion Programs. “The goal of the Diamond Awards is to honor the commitment and hard work of EPCC employees.”

Mrs. Christina R. Sanchez was the keynote speaker. Sanchez, a member of the EPCC board of trustees, spoke about women have to achieving their rights and obtaining high leadership positions.

The EPCC Diamond Awards is in its 12th year of honoring EPCC staff for their hard work mentoring students. The Diamond Awardees are the positive face of EPCC diversity.

Rita Pando, Dr. William Serrata | Photo courtesy EPCC
Olga Chavez, Christina Sanchez, Patricia Martinez (MC) | Photo courtesy EPCC

EPCC adopts Anthony Elementary to promote a College-Going Culture

On Friday morning, El Paso Community College (EPCC) adopted Anthony Elementary as part of its school adoption program during a proclamation ceremony held at the school.

EPCC President Dr. William Serrata welcomed Anthony Independent School District (AISD) Superintendent Dr. Oscar A. Troncoso, Anthony Elementary Principal, Oralia Moseley and the student body to the program.

“A student is never too young to learn the importance of going to college,” Dr. William Serrata, EPCC President said. “Reaching out to elementary school students and their parents allows students to learn that higher education is within their reach and we build a college-going culture.”

Anthony Elementary School is EPCC’s tenth school adopted and first for AISD.

“We want all of our students to be college ready. Elementary students are at a crucial point in their lives when career beliefs and aspirations are being developed. We all know that the more you learn the more you will earn. So a good education will benefit you but a great education will transform your life,” said AISD Superintendent Dr. Oscar A. Troncoso,

“Thank you to Dr. Serrata and El Paso Community College for taking this initiative to promote higher education and more importantly a better life and future for the children of this community.”

EPCC has plans to continue adopting elementary schools across its district. Previously EPCC adopted the following schools:

  • Campestre Elementary from Socorro Independent School District
  • Frederick Douglass Elementary from El Paso Independent School District
  • Ramona Elementary from Ysleta Independent School District
  • Canutillo Elementary School from Canutillo Independent School District
  • Frank Macias Elementary School from the Clint Independent School District
  • O’Donnell Intermediate School from Fabens Independent School District
  • Lorenzo G. Alarcon Elementary School from San Elizario Independent School District
  • Benito Martinez Elementary from Fort Hancock Independent School District
  • Tornillo Elementary School from Tornillo Independent School District

Marathon Petroleum grant enhances training in welding and machining tech at EPCC

On Wednesday, officials with Marathon Petroleum and El Paso Community College, as well as students and teachers in the Welding and Machining Technology programs at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) met to discuss the partnership and celebrate a new grant.

Kathy Huffman, Director of the Marathon Petroleum Foundation, VJ Smith, Marathon Petroleum, El Paso, Manager, Government & Public Affairs,  and Ashley Cooke, Administrative Assistant visited El Paso Community College (EPCC) students and faculty of the Welding and Machining Technology programs at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to discuss the insight and advantages of the partnership between EPCC and Marathon Petroleum for workforce development.

During the meeting, Marathon Petroleum presented a grant of $167,000 to EPCC for its Welding and Machining Technology programs

Welding Student Using Marathon Grant Equipment

housed at the Valle Verde campus.

EPCC officials say the new grant funds the latest equipment to train students in these high-demand fields.

“Education and ongoing training are required for today’s workers and the success of our community,” Dr. William Serrata, EPCC President said. “EPCC fills a vital role for our region’s employers to ensure that their employees have the skills they need to be successful in the workplace.”

EPCC officials added that, through the grant, the college has expanded its Welding and Machining Technology programs and offers additional credentials for students to receive advanced certifications.

“Certified graduates expand the skill base of our regional workforce by being prepared for work with training in the professionalism and safety required in modern industry.”

Dr. Dolores Gross, Dr. Olga Valerio, Ashley Cooke, Kathy Huffman, VJ Smith, Steven Smith, Keri Moe

EPCC Tejanos Jesus Licon, Garrett Calderon named Players of the Week

Two El Paso Community College (EPCC) baseball players, Jesus Licon and Garrett Calderon, were named Players of the Week by the Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) sponsored by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

The honors came after the Tejanos won 3 out of 4 games versus Western Oklahoma State College, this weekend.

Sophomore first baseman, Jesus Licon, had a .642 batting average for the week with a 1.36 slugging percentage.

He hit 2 home runs for the week including a grand slam. He also had 2 doubles, 6 RBIs, 7 walks and 7 runs scored. He was named the WJCAC Baseball Position Player of the Week.

Freshman right-hander, Garrett Calderon, pitched a complete-game to get the win over Western Oklahoma, going 9 innings while allowing just two earned runs and seven hits.

Of the 27 outs, 16 were ground balls and he recorded 6 strikeouts. He was named the WJCAC Baseball Pitcher of the Week.

Up next for the Tejanos, is a weekend series vs. New Mexico Junior College.

EPCC releases statement regarding college’s Coronavirus initial response and preparation

On Thursday, officials with El Paso Community College (EPCC) reached out to students and residents alike, regarding their preparations ahead of any local cases of the COVID-19 illness, better known as Coronavirus.

“EPCC is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” college officials shared via a statement on their website.  “As always, EPCC will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities.”

“Currently, there are not any known cases of COVID-19 at EPCC or in El Paso County,” officials added.

Officials went on say that the “health and safety of EPCC students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance and our campus community should take the preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)”

To that end, officials shared the following tips:

  • Practice good hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Stay home, rest and avoid close contact with others when you are sick or have a fever
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe

“EPCC will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The campus community should consult the CDC and City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information.”

For the most recent health developments on COVID-19, visit:

UTEP, EPCC study focuses on Antibiotic Resistance in Rio Grande

A 1,260-mile portion of the Rio Grande flows between the United States and Mexico along the entire length of Texas’ southern border, providing water for drinking, irrigation and recreational activities to communities on both sides of the border.

But according to a study in the Journal of Health and Pollution, researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College discovered that the Rio Grande is a “hotspot” for multidrug-resistant bacteria, antibiotic residues and antimicrobial resistant genes, which “may represent a public health concern” for people who use the river.

“We know there is bacteria in the Rio Grande’s water, but we wanted to see if there was antibiotic multidrug-resistant bacteria and residues because the water from the river is treated as potable drinking water and kids and their families go and swim there, especially from Mexico,” said Maria Fuentes, a student in UTEP’s Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. Program and the paper’s first author.

“This could potentially be a public health issue because if you come into contact with the contaminated water, it could lead to more gastrointestinal infections,” she added. “It could also contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance through the development and spreading of more genes of resistance in the environment. However, more research needs to be done to see how serious of a public health concern this is.”

Fuentes participated in the yearlong 2017 study led by Delfina C. Domínguez, Ph.D., UTEP professor of clinical laboratory science (CLS) and co-investigators Wen-Yee Lee, Ph.D., UTEP associate professor of chemistry, and Maria E. Alvarez, Ph.D., professor and coordinator of biology and chemistry programs at EPCC’s Transmountain Campus. The Edward N. and Margaret Marsh Foundation funded the study.

During the months of February, April, July, September and December, Fuentes and EPCC students sampled water and sediment from three sites within a 16-mile radius of the river from El Paso to Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Anapra, Mexico.

In addition to collecting samples, EPCC students identified the bacteria isolated from the water and sediment. UTEP’s chemistry department conducted a chemical analysis to determine which antibiotics were present in the river. Fuentes and the CLS program collaborated to identify antibiotic resistance genes found in bacteria.

The study found that antibiotics were in 92% of both water and sediment samples gathered from the Rio Grande. Genes conferring resistance were recovered from all collection sites. Of the isolated bacteria, 64% were resistant to at least two synergistic antibiotic combinations and 15% were found to be resistant to 20 or more individual antibiotics.

“This project indeed involved different expertise and resources to study a very complex and unstudied issue on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in our region,” Lee said. “The project required researchers from biology, chemistry and health sciences to provide a better understanding of what antibiotics (are in the water) and to what extent they have impacted our region.”

Fuentes said antibiotics have found their way into the Rio Grande through animal and human waste and discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which do not have the capability to filter medications out of the water after they’ve been flushed down the toilet.

Bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance after being exposed to drugs in the water, as part of a process of natural selection which, according to the study, may lead to an increased number and severity of infections, frequency of treatment failure, allergies and alteration of intestinal flora if people come in direct contact with the water.

Despite these findings, researchers suggest more studies are needed to determine the risk of the river’s water quality to public health. In the meantime, Dominguez hopes to raise awareness about the use and misuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in the border region.

“Other studies show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found in rivers all over the world, not just the Rio Grande,” Dominguez said. “But we still need to study the impact on public health. We need to conduct surveys and do testing in the community. But very minimum concentrations of antibiotics are not good at all in the river because they may impact the microflora we have.”

Alvarez said the study has not only had a profound impact on the protection of water quality and human health in the U.S.-Mexico border region, but it also enabled students from different disciplines and institutions to engage with one another.

“The collaborative nature of the projects conducted in the laboratories at UTEP and EPCC provide outstanding opportunities for students at both institutions to acquire expertise in research areas that directly affect our community,” Alvarez said. “Co-authors Stephanie Gutierrez, Daniella Sahagun and Jose Gomez were EPCC students when this project was done and Jose Mendoza and Stephanie Bauer were former EPCC students who graduated from UTEP and NMSU.”

For Fuentes, a 2018 graduate from UTEP’s Master in Public Health program, working on the project made her more aware of how the choices people make impact the environment.

Last summer, she continued her research by looking at the water quality at water parks and irrigation sites around El Paso, after the water has been treated. This pilot study showed that genes of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have the ability to survive the filtration process and find their way back to the community. Still, more data and research is needed to understand the impact of these findings as a health concern on antibiotic resistance.

“This (Rio Grande) study has definitely made me more aware of the environment,” Fuentes said. “It makes you think about what you’re drinking, what you’re eating, and what you’re throwing away. This study is more a reflection of our behavior. It is about understanding how we interact with the environment and how we all have to be responsible for how we treat the environment, because we depend on it.”

Author:  Laura L. Acosta – UTEP Communications

EPCC Student Recognized as a DREAM Scholar

National Harbor, Maryland – Aylin Garcia, a freshman economics major at El Paso Community College (EPCC), was competitively selected as a 2020 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream.

Aylin competed with hundreds of students nationally, and she is the first EPCC student to receive this recognition. Garcia received her award at the DREAM 2020 National Conference.

Garcia, a freshman economics major at El Paso Community College (EPCC), was competitively selected as a 2020 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream. Aylin competed with hundreds of students nationally, and she is the first EPCC student to receive this recognition.

Aylin has faced significant struggles in her life, yet she has developed the grit and resilience to keep working to fulfill her dreams, like so many EPCC students.

Each day Aylin, a resident of Juarez, crosses the quarter-mile long bridge between the two countries to attend EPCC’s Rio Grande campus.

Although the two cities’ cultures, residents, and economies are closely connected, Aylin still felt a bit of a culture shock when she first started commuting to attend EPCC. She shares that she’s “still adapting to the American education system and looking forward to opportunities to grow as a human being and as a student.”

Aylin’s family encouraged her studies; however, her parents struggled with their own personal issues, including addiction. This led to a turbulent home life for Aylin and her siblings.

Throughout her childhood, she shares that she always felt anchored and supported by her grandmother, who taught her that “responsibilities and obligations must be placed on the top of our priorities.” Aylin says she found belonging and purpose at school, where she excelled academically and participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, like robotics and basketball.

Aylin attended Preparatoria Central and the Instituto Tesla, both in Juarez. She received rigorous academic training at Preparatoria, instilling a deep intellectual curiosity and love of learning. At Tesla, she learned more about how to be a good human being and developed strong interpersonal and relationship-building skills.

It was during this time that Aylin also gained confidence in her identity and came out to her family, which led to further estrangement with her father. She realized then that she had “no control over the reactions of others.”

Aylin reconnected strongly with her mother during her senior year of high school, but, sadly, her mother became ill with cancer and died a month after graduation. She says she never lost focus on excelling in school, but internally she felt shattered and lost.  “Life just lost its sense, its purpose…”

During the dark days after her mother’s death, she reflected on the many life lessons her mother had taught her, and she determined that she would have to give her own life a purpose. After taking a semester to recover from this devastating loss, Aylin started at EPCC.

By returning to her education, Aylin is also honoring her mother, whose only source of genuine happiness was her success in school, and her grandmother, who sacrificed to give her grandchildren a better life.

Aylin sums it up quite simply: “I get to lead the life I want to lead.”

After EPCC, Aylin plans to transfer to New Mexico State University to continue her studies. She is excited to attend the 2020 DREAM Conference, where she will have a unique opportunity to learn about the higher education system and to build professional skills and networks with the other DREAM Scholars.


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