Wednesday, July 3, 2019
  Awards and Recognitions

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV graduate student Monica Lugo recently made UTRGV history at the 2019 American Advertising Awards competition by becoming the first UTRGV student to advance to nationals and to receive an award at that level.

In the three-tier competition, Lugo competed in the Illustration Campaign category, Student Division.

 The ADDY Awards attracts nearly 35,000 professional and student entries annually. In the national tier, 68 Gold and Silver awards were granted in the student division, and Lugo was one of 39 students in the country awarded a Silver.

Her series, Primitive, consisted of four pieces featuring abstract shapes and modern hieroglyphics, which were part of a 14-piece series – one semester of work for her graduate school project.

“The fact that it was received so well was very encouraging,” Lugo said. “I was honored to win it for our school ... and for the designing School of Art.”

She was entered in the local tier by Ping Xu, UTRGV assistant professor of Graphic Design, and earned a Gold Award, as well as a Judges Award, a higher level of honor, ranking above the Gold Award.

She then advanced to the regional tier, where she once again took the Gold, which meant she could advance to the national leg of the competition. That made her the first UTRGV student to be able to compete at nationals.

The national ceremony was June 7 in Hollywood, Florida, where Lugo found out she had won the Silver Award in her category.


To prepare for her Primitive series, Lugo said she had constructive guidance, critiques and mentorship from a variety of professors, including Professor Xu.

“It is such an honor for UTRGV and for Monica to receive this national award,” Xu said. “As her mentor on her winning artwork, we guided Monica’s output forward with critiques and suggestions born of our experience.”

Xu said Primitive is an example of the minimal, yet bold style of Lugo’s artwork, and the series interprets and presents modern graphic design trends.

Although her passion for graphic design was evident as far back as her days in the Brownsville school district’s fine arts program, she said, much of her passion and knowledge for the medium blossomed in UTRGV’s Graphic Design program. And as she continues working toward an MFA in Graphic Design, she also is working toward a future career as a teacher in the Rio Grande Valley, which she feels has potential in the graphic design industry.

“When I started my undergrad, I didn’t even know how to use Adobe Illustrator, yet what I submitted to the ADDYs was done using that program,” Lugo said. “My professors all taught me so much. They’ve always been there to help me with anything that I need, and I feel like I owe it all to UTRGV.”


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.