Wednesday, June 19, 2019
  Community, Announcements

By Amanda Alaniz

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The second cohort of Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers , under the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation , includes 11 recipients from UTRGV.

More than 370 candidates submitted written applications, and finalists participated in interviews, group activities and demonstrations of teaching lessons. The candidates are attending, or planning to attend, one of 10 partner universities in Texas.

A total of 134 new scholars were selected and are committed to teaching in majority economically disadvantaged Texas public schools or in hard-to-fill subject areas. Each will receive an $8,000 scholarship annually for up to four years, as well as ongoing training, mentorship and networking opportunities provided by the foundation.

The 11 UTRGV students are:

  • Carolina De Anda, of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
  • Rosalinda Flores, of Mission.
  • Patricia Fuentes, of Pharr.
  • Gasper Garcia, of Brownsville.
  • Theresa Garza, of McAllen.
  • Roger Juarez, of Pharr.
  • Idalia Meza, of Pharr
  • Keyla Ochoa, of San Benito.
  • Diana Salas, of Brownsville.
  • Robert Torres, of Donna.
  • Lariza Vazquez, of Houston.

To fulfill the scholarship requirements, the students are to enroll in the  UTRGV Student Teacher Educator Preparation University Partnership (STEP UP), the program selected by the Raise Your Hand Foundation as a partner for its Raising Texas Teachers Initiative.  

Several in this cohort of recipients graduated from their respective high schools and are entering freshman at UTRGV in fall 2019.


Robert Torres, a recent graduate from the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes, said he found out about the scholarship through his parents and a counselor’s recommendation, since they knew he wanted to have a teaching career.

He knew he wanted to be a teacher because education was always something present in his life, he said. Ideally, he would want to teach English Literature.

“I’m a person whose mind functions best in the abstract. I love the fact that everything is open to your interpretation, there’s always something deeper to anything that you read,” he said. “I love that there’s just endless creativity in every aspect of the subject.”

Torres said he didn’t realize he was going against college students when he was going through the final stages for the scholarship. But when someone brought it to his attention, he didn’t let it phase him. He knew they were all there for the same goal, he said.

He said that being named a Charles Butt Scholar means that someone chose to help advance his future, so he is ready to give back to the community with education.

“The fact they’re investing in me, it isn’t just going to end with me. That’s the amazing thing about education. Because they’re investing in me, I in turn will invest in so many other people when I’m in the classroom,” Torres said. “I’m excited for my future as a Charles Butt scholar and with UTRGV.”


UTRGV senior Theresa Garza, who is majoring in interdisciplinary study with a concentration in special education, found out about the scholarship from a flyer posted on campus. She took a picture of it and decided to put in an application.

Her mother was a big influence on her decision to be a teacher, and getting the scholarship solidified that she had made the right career choice.

“It felt super great to know, not only do I know what I’m capable of, but all these other people know, too,” she said.

Garza credits UTRGV’s education program for guiding, preparing and helping her overcome the challenges she faced during the scholarship process.

“A lot of those hard questions during my scholarship interview, they were dealing with topics we had gone over in classes. I learned so much from the program and I’m super grateful for it,” she said. “For future teachers, UTRGV is a good choice.”

Visit the College of Education and P-16 Integration to learn more about the education program and application process for the Charles Butt Scholarship.


The Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers – one component of the  Raising Texas Teachers initiative – is designed to encourage accomplished students to consider a future in teaching. The scholarship consists of $8,000 in annual funding for up to four years, as well as ongoing training and development opportunities, mentorship from sitting public school educators, and participation in a statewide aspiring teachers’ network facilitated by the  Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation.

About 100 scholarships will be awarded through teacher preparation programs at 10 partnering universities each year, with the cohort growing to include 500 scholars annually. The competitive selection process includes an application, pre-screening by university teams, and a daylong event consisting of a group activity, mock teaching lesson, and panel interview.


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.