Friday, August 28, 2020
  Around Campus, Community

By Victoria Brito

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV Office of College Access and K-12 Partnerships has received a $348,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) at UTRGV for five additional years.   

The U.S Department of Education’s TRiO Student Support Services Program is a competitive grant process that helps provide students with opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements, and motivates students toward successful completion of a postsecondary education.  

UTRGV TRiO Student Support Services works directly with 275 eligible undergraduate students each year.  

Camelia Rubalcada, director of Student Support Services for the university, said the new funding will be used to implement new initiatives such as trainings and workshops, student grant aid and program operations.  

One of the new initiatives, implemented in summer 2019, is Graduate, Leadership and Cultural Training.  

“We will select students through a comprehensive application process to attend the training that typically takes place outside of Texas,” Rubalcada said. “The training curriculum focuses on diversity, cultural competencies, service learning and leadership. We take students to cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, or areas that are different from South Texas. This method exposes them and helps them gain a better understanding of the social justice issues going on in the world.”  

Rubalcada said SSS is an essential program for students who identify as being first generation and from a low socio-economic background, to utilize resources that can help them successfully navigate university life.  

“It is important to support and challenge students and help them continue on their college journey so that they can make it to graduation,” she said. “We don’t just support the students, but we challenge them in their thinking. This program is imperative to the success of the students.” 

Cindy Valdez, UTRGV associate vice president for Student Educational Outreach with College Access and K-12 Partnerships, said the grant supports the UTRGV mission to increase student retention and graduation. 

“We have a great team in Student Support Services that works very well with students, and it is really that one-on-one connection with students that keeps them engaged with not only the program, but also with the university,” Valdez said.  

For more information on the program and eligibility, visit


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.