Thursday, December 19, 2019
  Around Campus

By Melissa Vasquez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Four years ago, Quincie Gomez did not recognize the girl standing in front of the mirror as she struggled with a substance use disorder.  

She thought she would never overcome it.  

Today, she says, with the help of divine assistance and her belief in herself, Gomez has beat her addiction and on Dec. 13 became the first graduate to earn a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies from the UTRGV School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling.  

“Being the first graduate from UTRGV with this degree is something that I will always hold close to my heart. It has truly opened so many doors for success in my life,” she said. 

The Harlingen native said pursuing this degree was her true calling in life.  

“This substance use disorder had numerous negative effects in my educational, professional and personal life. Looking into the mirror, I did not even recognize the girl staring back at me. And, I had no intention of changing.  

“It was not until I received salvation that was freely given to me by Jesus Christ that I was able to overcome this substance abuse and so many other things in my life,” she said.  

Now that Gomez has her degree, she plans to register with the state as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern, which is the initial step to obtain licensure to work in substance abuse treatment. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling to eventually become a Licensed Professional Counselor.  

Gomez’s first major at UTRGV was rehabilitation services with a concentration in addiction studies, but she was able to transition seamlessly and change her major to addiction studies in fall 2018.  

She completed her final semester coursework in addiction studies, which included a 300-hour practicum at the Palmer Drug Abuse Program. 

“My experience in this program has truly been amazing and empowered me. All of the staff at UTRGV provided so much support and encouragement throughout my entire undergraduate program and assisted me in achieving all the goals that I set for myself,” she said. 

The bachelor’s in addiction studies program at UTRGV is primarily online. The program’s mission is to prepare students to become addiction counseling specialists who will enter the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment and help people overcome addictions and start living healthy, independent lives.  

“Because the program was fully online, I was able not only to be a full-time student, but also a full-time worker,” Gomez said. “This program challenged me in so many positive ways, and I truly believe that it provided me with a great stepping stone in my career as a counselor.” 


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.