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It’s all about the fashion: UTRGV School of Medicine celebrates holidays with annual tacky sweater contest

The UTRGV School of Medicine held its annual Ugly Sweater Contest

The UTRGV School of Medicine held its annual Ugly Sweater Contest, pitting faculty and staff from the Harlingen and Edinburg campuses against each other for the right to brag about having the ugliest holiday sweater, hands down. The SOM also collected gifts for families they are sponsoring in the Indian Hills neighborhood near Mercedes. Here, sweater contest champion Vicente Reyna proudly struts his stuff as the overall contest winner, to the amusement of Nina Jimenez, from the Graduate Medical Education department. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)


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By Jennifer L. Berghom and Malena Hernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – DEC. 15, 2017 – Faculty and staff of the UTRGV School of Medicine celebrated the end of a successful semester and the beginning of the holiday season with its “Second Annual Tacky Sweater Get Together Jubilee.”

The event, held simultaneously on Friday at the Edinburg Medical Education Building Auditorium and at the Harlingen Clinical Education Building Auditorium, included lunch, a white elephant gift exchange and, of course, a contest to find out who could boast the tackiest sweater of them all.

Each location awarded monetary prizes to the top three contestants. First-place winners received $50, second-place winners got $30 and third-place got $20. Staff and faculty pitched in money for the festivities and the prizes.

The overall winner of the sweater competition – Vicente Reyna, administrative coordinator in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine – also won a trophy topped with a figure wearing a green tacky holiday sweater, and bragging rights.

Reyna, who helped organize the event and was decorated head to toe in lights, bells and other holiday-themed fare, described his outfit as “St. Nicolas will want to take me out for dinner after he delivers his toys.”
Andy Zuñiga, who won second overall in the competition, thanked his friend, Frances Garcia, administrative assistant II in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, for helping him decorate his dinosaur-playing-Uno-themed sweater.

“She’s awesome,” said Zuñiga, administrative coordinator for Faculty Recruitment. “She made all this for me because she knows I like Uno and dinosaurs and I’m just a big kid at heart.”

Reyna, Zuñiga and other SOM staff said they enjoy the camaraderie and appreciate that the administration supports them having such events, where they can interact with coworkers and meet new colleagues as the School of Medicine continues to grow.  

“Not only does it help camaraderie, it boosts morale, especially at a season that is so festive,” Reyna said. “And it has a little friendly competition between the east and the west, between Edinburg and Harlingen.”

The event also wrapped up the School of Medicine’s ongoing toy drive, which will provide presents for children at the Indian Hills community near Mercedes. Indian Hills is one of the communities the School of Medicine’s Unimóvil team has been visiting to provide healthcare services for more than a year.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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