Friday, May 18, 2018
  Awards and Recognitions

By Amanda Taylor

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – For Karina Guerrero, a UTRGV political science alumna, traveling abroad during her university years was a personal goal that never came to be. Then, shortly after her graduation from UTRGV in December, her dream came true.

Guerrero, an Edinburg resident, was selected for a Fulbright Scholarship and will travel to Galicia, Spain, in September as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA). She will help students in the region learn English, and plans to brush up on her Spanish skills, as well.

“Teaching English abroad is a big responsibility, but instead of going in thinking I’m going to teach them this universal language, I am going in wanting to improve my Spanish,” she said. “I want the students I work with to know that they will be helping me just as much as I am helping them. Being bilingual is important, and their language is just as valuable as English.”

The Fulbright Program is funded by an annual congressional appropriation to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright U.S. Student Programprovides grants for research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries for recent graduates and graduate students.

Dr. Mark Andersen, dean of the UTRGV Honors College and the university’s Fulbright Program advisor, said Guerrero is UTRGV’s first-ever Fulbright U.S. Student Program awardee.

“I hope she is the first of many more to come,” he said. “Winning a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship is a great honor and opportunity for Karina. She worked hard on her application. She and I worked through several drafts of her essays for the competition. This is a highly competitive award and UTRGV had three strong applicants for Fulbright ETAs this year.”

Guerrero’s leadership potential as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) helped earn her the Fulbright, and she will be one of 137 international students teaching in Spain on a Fulbright scholarship.

Overall, 1,900 students from the United States were selected to conduct research, teach English and provide their expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic school year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

In order to win a Fulbright grant, Guerrero needed to write a one-page essay on her personal intent and an essay on her grant purpose. The grant, in the amount of $12,418, is made possible due to the co-sponsorship of the Xunta de Galicia (Galicia’s regional government). Guerrero leaves in September and returns in June after spending nine months teaching abroad.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Guerrero said of leaving her friends and family for so long. “But I’ve been feeling stronger about it and I’m excited about the experiences I’m going to have.”

In addition to teaching English, Guerrero plans to start a community garden project to incorporate the importance of protecting the earth and conservation – two other passions of hers.

“The garden will further the research I’ve done on a theory that has taken place in Europe, specifically Spain, for sustainable regrowth,” she said. “It’s surrounding a social, political and economic movement that incorporates the quality of life, environment living restructuring and societal priorities for the protection of the environment.”


The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries. The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all areas, while building relationships, knowledge and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.


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.