The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

College of Health Affairs Office of the Dean

News and Events

UTRGV nursing professor named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

Dr. Nelda Martinez

UTRGV nursing professor Dr. Nelda C. Martinez, RN, Ph.D., has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – OCT. 3, 2017 – Dr. Nelda C. Martinez, RN, Ph.D., clinical professor in the UTRGV School of Nursing, College of Health Affairs, will be inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing during the organization's 2017 Transforming Health, Driving Policy Conference, Oct. 5-7 in Washington, D.C.

Read the full article here.

Surprise Speaker Cody Calchado the World’s Strongest Disabled Man 2015!

Cody Calchado

UTRGV Women's Basketball Assistant Coaches Kaylena Andersen and Yannick Denson along with special guest Cody Calchado who was the World’s Strongest Disabled Man in 2015 and runner in 2016 with Health and Human Performance majors in Danessa Peterson’s Biomechanics class. 

College of Health Affairs Information Sessions - October 2017

These info sessions for October will focus on supporting COHA majors academic progression as well as looking into life after graduation. Many University centers, i.e. Student Health Clinic,  Student Accessibility Office, on-campus Food Bank, Writing Center, will be at the events in addition to the Career Center and Advising Center. If you are thinking and planning life after graduation, you will be able to talk to our graduate programs as well as the University Graduate College. 

COHA Info Sessions - Flyer

DEL CASTILLO in Brownsville to raise funds for College of Health Affairs Scholarships - September 23

An evening with DEL CASTILLO will take place on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with entertainment in the lobby, a cash bar, and an opportunity to view and buy goods from local artists. A signed guitar from the band will be raffled.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jose A. & Lois M. del Castillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship at UTRGV. Established in 2017, the scholarship supports students in the College of Health Affairs School of Nursing, pursuing a nursing degree or are in the Cooperative Pharmacy Program at UTRGV.  In addition, a portion of the proceeds will also be donated to provide relief from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Del Castillo

Del Castillo is an Austin-based band and well known in the Rio Grande Valley because of their talent and roots here. They are a cross-cultural power in music. Their original sound blends rock, Latin, blues and world rhythms. 

Tickets for the concert are available at For information, contact Michelle Davis at (956) 466-7556 or

About José A. & Lois M. del Castillo

Please visit the José A. & Lois M. del Castillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship Facebook page for more details on their story.é-A-Lois-M-del-Castillo-Memorial-Endowed-Scholarship-UTRGV-422799974780263/


Watch Brownsville's own Del Castillo speak on their humble beginnings at UTB/TSC

UTRGV nursing professor Tamez accepts Legacy Award from national organization

Eloisa Tamez

UTRGV nursing professor Eloisa G. Taméz, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, is the 2017 recipient of the Latino Legacy Award from the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Here, she accepts the award during the 42nd annual NAHN Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. (Courtesy photo)

Read the full story here.

Graduate School Information Session

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - Edinburg

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - Brownsville

Graduate School Information Session Flyer

Cooperative Pharmacy Program - Fall 2017 

There are slots open for students to apply to the Cooperative Pharmacy Program this year.  If there are any BMED students that want to go to pharmacy school and  have taken the PCAT or will take it Sept 8, Dr. Lydia Aguilera (Director of CPP, COHA) would like to talk to them about applying thru the CPP program.   Our faculty can provide advisement to optimize their candidacy for pharmacy school.  Dr. Cruz even leads a Mock Admissions session. 

Early admission deadline is Sept 5 and regular admission deadline is November 1, 2017.

Dr. Bianca Cruz is responsible for coordinating mock multiple mini interviews (MMIs) for CPP students with the UTRGV Career Center. UT Austin College of Pharmacy is currently the only pharmacy school in Texas that uses the MMI method. Important information about signing up for mock MMIs. Please know that students who want to participate in the mock MMIs MUST:

  1. Plan on applying to UT Austin College of Pharmacy in Fall 2017
  2. Be interested in being part of the UTRGV/UT Austin CPP, meaning that they would return to the UTRGV during their third and fourth years of pharmacy school

Any students not applying to UT Austin College of Pharmacy or who do not want to be part of the CPP may contact the UTRGV Career Center on their own to set up mock interviews. Please let Dr. Cruz know if you have any questions.

Profiles in Excellence - 2017


August 29, 2017
Abigail Alfaro


UTRGV has offered me so many amazing opportunities. When I was in high school, then-UTPA offered me college readiness assistance through Upward Bound and I fell in love with the university. Once I became a student at UTRGV, I received a migrant housing scholarship through the Abriendo Caminos Living Learning Community (LLC), which opened so many doors for me. Having the accessibility of living on campus gave me the opportunities to get involved, be academically successful and, of course, still be close to home.

Read more about Abigail Alfaro.


August 15, 2017
April Garcia


I chose to attend UTRGV because of the quality of education I would receive at an affordable price. Also, UTRGV is where home is. At UTRGV I have attended multiple events in which students promote activities going on and off campus, which encourages and influences them to give back to their community and get involved with student organizations. I am glad to be part of such a wonderful university.

Read more about April Garcia.


July 4, 2017
Hector Filizola


With my acceptance into the unique biomedical sciences program and its innovative curriculum, I could not pass up attending UTRGV. I knew that this program offered me the best education for my career goals. Above all, only at UTRGV was I able to stay in the community that is my home, and remain close to my family and care for my baby sisters as they grow.

Read more about Hector Filizola.

Alumnus of the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley PA ProgramNationally recognized.

Juliana Abreu

Johns Creek, GA, March 21, 2017 –
Juliana Abreu, PA-C, a certified physician assistant who graduated in 2012 from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley PA Program, was recently awarded a specialty credential called a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Read the full press release here.

UTRGV Athletics Set for Challenge of the Deans on Thursday


UTRGV Athletics will host the sixth annual Challenge of the Deans on Thursday at 7 p.m. when UTRGV men's basketball faces Seattle U at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.(UTRGV Fieldhouse-Google Maps)

Deans from different colleges across campus, along with students from their colleges, will battle it out at halftime in a free throw shooting competition. Additionally, the college with the highest student attendance will be declared most spirited. Winning colleges will receive a trophy.

UTRGV Athletics would like to show its appreciation for all current UTRGV faculty and staff by offering free admission and free popcorn with a valid UTRGV employee ID.

Come and support our own Dean of College of Health Affairs, Michael Lehker!!!

Exciting news!! Our own Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu and Ms. Kim Finn have been recognized by the National Council on Rehabilitation Education.

These are very prestigious awards by our main professional organization - they will be honored at our national conference in April! The National Council on Rehabilitation Education Spring 2017 Conference


Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu has been selected as New Career in Rehabilitation Education Award. This is a prestigious award in Rehab. To be eligible you must be within the first five years of your academic career. Self-nominations are not accepted and you have to have letters from professors outside your geographic area.

Ms. Kim Finn who has been selected as NCRE doctoral student of the year!

We are all proud off you Veronica & Kim!

The National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) is the premier professional organization of educators dedicated to quality services for persons with disabilities through education and research. NCRE advocates up-to-date education and training and the maintenance of professional standards in the field of rehabilitation

Congratulations Fall 2016 Graduates!

UTRGV Fall 2016 commencement ceremonies kick off in Brownsville - BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DEC. 16, 2016 – About 470 of 604 graduates from the Brownsville Campus walked the stage at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Fall 2016 Commencement ceremony on Friday evening. In addition to the graduates, hundreds of family and friends gathered for the 6 p.m. ceremony on the Student Union lawn to cheer on the graduates as they crossed the stage to accept their diplomas. Read the full article here.

Watch the Recorded live stream of the Brownsville Campus 2016 Fall Commencement Ceremony here

Watch more videos of the other UTRGV Fall 2016 Commencement Ceremonies visit their Facebook page.

More photos of the College of Health Affairs to come....

ROTC cadet Ilse Aranda receives commission as second lieutenant in U.S Army Reserves


EDINBURG, TEXAS – DEC. 16, 2016 – UTRGV graduating senior Ilse Aranda received her gold bars as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, during the U.S. Army ROTC Fall Commissioning Ceremony, held Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in the UTRGV Library Auditorium on the Edinburg Campus. (UTRGV Photo by Silver Salas)

The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. has named Shirley A. Wells as one of the 100 Influential People in Occupational Therapy.

Shirley Wells

Shirley A. Wells, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA, has been a tireless advocate for cultural inclusion and diversity in occupational therapy for the past 37 years. She has advocated for diversity through her ground-breaking books on culture and occupational therapy...


Transforming Together is...

Powering change. Creating opportunities. Advancing health care. Making global connections. Driving innovative research. Painting new possibilities. Reaching for excellence. Inspiring new discoveries. Enhancing programs that open minds. Building a better future for our community. Solving problems. Awarding scholarships. Impacting South Texas and beyond. Giving from the heart.

Take a moment to meet some of our students who are making a difference on campus and in their communities with your generosity.

Lawrence Pabalinas- College of Health Affairs

The College of Health Affairs and participation in campus life have given Lawrence Pabalinas (2017) the opportunity to build a supportive network of friends and mentors who feel like family.

UTRGV Master of Physician Assistant Studies program gets expansion approval

PA Studies

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – OCT. 11, 2016 – The UTRGV Department of Physician Assistant Studies, in the College of Health Affairs, has received approval from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education to enlarge its physician assistant master’s program over the next three years. Frank Ambriz (at right), chair of the department, said the MPAS degree paves the way for a high-demand career for students like Benito Lopez (at left), who is on track to graduate with the MPAS in December. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

UTRGV Physician Assistant students urged to pay it forward, during White Coat Ceremony


AUG. 19, 2016 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s 52 new Physician Assistant Studies students were selected from among hundreds of top candidates, and on Friday, university officials challenged them to use what they learn to serve their communities.

The UTRGV Department of Physician Assistant Studies (PA) had its White Coat Ceremony Aug. 19 at the Engineering Building’s main auditorium on the Edinburg Campus. Faculty members cloaked each student, as family and other loved ones cheered and snapped photos.


Two nursing websites rank UTRGV nursing program among best in nation

AUG. 17, 2016 - The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s School of Nursing has been named among the best in the country in two national rankings, published by websites that serve as resources for prospective and current nursing students.

UTRGV was ranked 27th out of 50 top nursing schools in the Southwest by Nursing Schools Almanac, and 30th out of 50 top residential Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs in the country by Top RN to

UTRGV’s Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program selected as Examples of Excelencia finalist


AUG. 10, 2016 – Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization focused on the success of Latino students, has announced the selection of the UTRGV Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) Program as one of 20 finalists for its national Examples of Excelencia awards.

UTRGV holds two ribbon cutting ceremonies for primary care clinics

ribbon cutting ceremony

July 8, 2016 - UTRGV Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. María I. Díaz (third from left), Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (District 27) and Texas Sen. Juan Hinojosa (District 20), cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the UTRGV Community Primary Care Clinic in McAllen, in partnership with Hidalgo County. A second clinic is located in Harlingen, with a ribbon cutting July 8 at that location. The clinics are made possible by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)


McAllen ceremony:

Harlingen ceremony: