Jose Palacio

Jose Palacio

Name: Jose Palacio               
Master’s in Mathematics
College of Sciences
: Mission, Texas
High School:
Sharyland High School, Mission, TX

Unlike other universities, I felt that there was a cultural proximity that UTRGV was going to offer me that I was not going to find anywhere else. Also, fortunately, many of my relatives had the opportunity to attend this university, so I was already aware of the excellent quality of education that I could receive.

What made you decide on your current major?
My bachelor’s degree is in mathematics and currently my master's degree is in mathematics with concentration in statistics. The reality is that I am opting to focus more on statistics. Honestly, after taking my first statistics classes and after several conversations with professors who specialize in this area, a deep interest awakened in me. Later, when I reached more advanced levels and saw the flexibility and the wide number of applications statistics has added to the different research projects in the field, I decided that I wanted to dedicate my career to statistics.

How are you maneuvering being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the key to surviving this pandemic academically, at least for me, is having an agenda and trying to follow it to the letter (with some flexibility obviously) and stay in constant communication with my classmates and professors. Fortunately, because this has been a learning process for all, our faculty have been very supportive and considerate by trying to adapt their teaching style to this new normality.

What are your greatest strengths and what are some challenges? 
I believe that this situation has tested our ability to adapt to such radical changes and I think that as students we are doing very well. Also, I have always believed that in situations as adverse as the one we are experiencing, the best medicine is positivity and laughter (when the situation clearly allows) is the best way to cope. So, I always try to have this attitude in my day to day. On the other hand, I think that the biggest challenges come from situations that become out of our control such as technical problems, extreme climate changes, diseases, among other things. These types of psychological duels tend to be the most difficult to face, at least for me.

What do you hope to achieve beyond completion of your major?
I have many plans and one of them is to get involved in projects that affect my community. When I was presenting my research at the 2019 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference in Hawaii, I had a realization about the representation that we have as Latinos in the STEM fields. In my experience of participating in summer research at several universities, I saw hardly any Latino faculty or student representation. At SACNAS, after listening to UCSF medical scientist Dr. Esteban Gonzalez Burchard, I was inspired to focus my future on making sure my community has spaces where they can find guidance, access, and support.

What do you like most about UTRGV?
The healthy environment of UTRGV is what I like the most. Here both the faculty and students not only seek to improve each day but also enthusiastically support those who seek to improve and learn. I think this friendly and supportive environment has contributed to a lot of who I am today.

What does being a Vaquero mean to you?
For me, being a Vaquero means constantly wanting to improve yourself. It is being humble and knowing that there is always something new to learn and that you can learn it from anyone.

What opportunities has UTRGV helped you find throughout your community?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to collaborate with the organization La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) in an investigation to identify the problems caused by floods and stormwater in the Valley in a colonia in Los Fresnos. Currently, as president of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Actuarial and Data Sciences Student Organization (ADSSO) I try to involve the community in seeking a career in the STEM area with workshops, projects, and giving presentations to high schools to inform students about the different jobs that can be found in this area.

What advice do you have for fellow students pursuing degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I would summarize it in two words: Positivity and perseverance. We are going through a complicated situation that requires extraordinary mental strength. The best advice I can give you is that you keep trying as we have always done, that you rely on your family, friends, and mentors, and that even if the situation seems so dire, I assure you that everything will improve.