Veteran and advocate J.R. Martinez to be next UTRGV Distinguished Speaker

By Neiby Rodriguez-Rangel

EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT. 27, 2016 – J.R. Martinez – actor, best-selling author, motivational speaker, advocate and wounded U.S. Army veteran – will be the next presenter in the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series.

The best-selling author of “Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit,” also is known for his participation on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and for his role as Brot Monroe on “All My Children.”

Martinez will speak at UTRGV at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, at the Performing Arts Center (EPAC) on the Edinburg Campus. The Distinguished Speakers Series is free and open to the community.

Martinez joined the army after high school and, during his military service, suffered severe burns to 34 percent of his body. As he recovered, a nurse asked him to speak with a burn patient who had become withdrawn. Martinez realized he had a positive impact on the patient, and decided to use his experiences to help others. His story may be unique, but his message is universal: Your path in life is decided by your own ability to adapt and overcome.

“We felt that his story will resonate with our UTRGV community and, specifically, our veteran students,” said Cindy Mata-Vasquez, UTRGV director for Student Activities. “His inspirational story of resilience, determination, and how he has overcome odds that have been a part of his life, will be a great message for students.”

Doors open at 7 p.m. for UTRGV students, faculty and staff with a valid UTRGV ID. Doors open for the general public at 7:15 p.m.
Students in Brownsville who are not able to attend the live presentation in Edinburg will be able to watch a livestream of the event at the PlainsCapital Bank Gran Salón at the Student Union in Brownsville.

Local schools or groups interested in attending any Distinguished Speaker event can contact Student Activities within the Student Involvement office at (956) 665-2660 or (956) 882-5111 for more information.
Students interested in serving on the committee for 2016-2017 school year can contact the Student Government Association or Student Involvement at (956) 882-5111 or (956) 665-2517.


The Distinguished Speaker Series is a signature program that has carried over to UTRGV from its legacy institution, The University of Texas-Pan American. UTRGV began its 13th DSS season with engineer and Limbitless Solutions founder Albert Manero. Previous speakers have included TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, ice cream entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Additional speakers for the 2016-2017 school year include actress and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox, and adventurer, explorer and mountaineer Alison Levine, who served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition.

Staff Writer / 956-665-3639 
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742