UTEP President Diana Natalicio, seated center, and Ma. Teresa Ortuño Gurza, director general of the Colegio de Bachilleres of the State of Chihuahua, seated right, lead a “Picks Up” celebration following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions Oct. 24, 2018. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications
The University of Texas at El Paso is taking another decisive step in its commitment to access and excellence in education with the launch of a new partnership with one of the leading educational institutions in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Last week, UTEP President Diana Natalicio and Ma. Teresa Ortuño Gurza, director general of the Colegio de Bachilleres of the State of Chihuahua (COBACH), met at UTEP to sign a memorandum of understanding.
The agreement’s main goals are to increase awareness among COBACH students about the opportunities available to them at UTEP, and to encourage faculty and staff from both institutions to explore opportunities for research and professional development through exchange programs.
“This agreement is important because it’s a continuation of UTEP’s effort to make the young people of our region – on both sides of the border – aware of the opportunities that are available to them,” President Natalicio said. “Many of these students, especially those who come from low-income families, don’t believe that going to college is a real option for them. So, with this agreement between UTEP and COBACH, we are telling these students, ‘That’s why we’re here: to offer opportunities to you.’”
The COBACH system consists of 31 state-run public high schools located throughout the state of Chihuahua, including several campuses in Juárez.
The agreement also signals UTEP’s continuing recognition of Mexico as a strategic partner in the University’s ongoing efforts to increase access to higher education for students of this region.
“During her tenure as head of The University of Texas at El Paso, President Natalicio has increasingly created more opportunities for students from Mexico, and the benefits of this effort cannot be expressed in mere numbers or statistics,” Ortuño Gurza said. “Thanks to UTEP, there are now more young people in Mexico for whom the thought of obtaining a college education in the United States, and all the advantages that derive from this, is no longer a far-fetched dream. This is something we want students across all 31 of our campuses to know.”
One COBACH graduate who understands the transformational effect partnerships like the one between the Mexican institution and UTEP can have on students is Valeria Romo de Vivar. Through her hard work and perseverance, and the efforts of UTEP and COBACH officials and staff members, she learned about the scholarship and employment opportunities available to her. Romo de Vivar thrived as a UTEP student. She graduated in May 2018 with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in communication.
With the signing of the agreement between UTEP and COBACH, Romo de Vivar said more students like her would be able to make their academic dreams come true. She referred to students who may have the talent to succeed in college, but see their socioeconomic issues as an insurmountable obstacle.
“It’s important to know that there is a support system,” Romo de Vivar said. “I believe there are too many students who are simply not aware of this, so their thinking is, ‘Why would I even think of going to college in the United States?’ My message to them is, ‘You’ll have to put in the work and you may have to knock on a lot of doors, but it’s definitely possible.’”
COBACH is celebrating its 45th anniversary during the 2018-19 academic year. Officials with the Mexican institution said the partnership agreement with UTEP is one of the highlights on its commemorative events calendar.
Author: Victor Arreola – UTEP Communications