UTRGV Celebrates Commencement 2020

  Wednesday, May 27, 2020
  Around Campus, Community

By Letty Fernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – A long-standing tradition during UTRGV’s Commencement Week has been the Veteran- and Military-Affiliated Graduation. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony will take place curbside at both campuses. The ceremony is held to show appreciation for the military graduates and highlight their service to the country.

This semester, 53 veterans and 47 military-affiliated earn their degree from UTRGV.

The first ceremony will be from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at the University Center parking lot at the UTRGV Edinburg Campus. The celebration moves to the Brownsville Campus from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, May 29, at the west side of Calvary Hall and the Bookstore. 

During the curbside ceremony, graduates will drive up to the curb to pick up their graduation stoles. Representatives from community agencies will be on the sidewalk and by their vehicles with posters and signs cheering the graduates. 

Graduates also will be invited to have their picture taken at the UTRGV sign. Social distancing should be observed, and everyone is encouraged to wear a mask.

Brownsville native Arturo de la Garza, a U.S. Army veteran, will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from UTRGV. He credits his family and the staff of the UTRGV Military and Veterans Success Center for helping him fulfill his dream of earning a college degree.

“The challenge I had in college was a little bit of a reduction in learning ability due to a traumatic brain injury. I suffered five concussions because of bomb explosions during my deployments,” he said. “I was able to push right on through my challenges. Did I want to give up? Absolutely. Did having those people to support me keep me from making that horrible mistake? Without a doubt!”

De la Garza isn’t done with college yet. He has been accepted into the UTRGV Disaster Studies Master’s Program and plans to apply to the Texas Game Warden Academy.


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.