Featured News

Graduate overcomes own struggles to be first UTRGV graduate to earn a BS in Addiction Studies

Quincie Gomez

Quincie Gomez, from Harlingen, became the first graduate to earn a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies from the UTRGV School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling on Dec. 13 during Fall 2019 Commencement. (Courtesy Photo)


DEC 19, 2019 - 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.  

Profiles in Excellence

Ricardo Duarte

March 10, 2020
Ricardo Duarte


UTRGV offered one thing to me that no other university could offer, which was closeness. The fact that I can attend a university right in my neighborhood without ever leaving my home or my family didn’t make me think twice about my choice to attend UTRGV. I had the same idea when I was graduating from high school and was able to attend UTPA and earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology back in the spring of 2015. The fact that I can attend UTRGV and go back home after my classes makes it perfect for me.

Read more about Ricardo Duarte.

The National Council on Rehabilitation Education selected our very own Josue Dimas for the Rehabilitation Undergraduate Student of the Year Award!!

Josue Dimas

This award recognizes an undergraduate student who has demonstrated outstanding service, leadership, advocacy, and/or research contribution in rehabilitation and/or with individuals with disabilities. Mr. Dimas has served as the president of the REHAB South club for the past two academic years. Under his leadership the club has flourished and been involved in many disability advocacy and outreach events. Mr. Dimas was actively involved in the coordination and development of our campuses’ Autism Day event, and he organized a Student’s Mental Health Fair last fall semester. He will be graduating this May from our program and has been a student here at the School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling for the past 3 years. He is a graduate of Weslaco High School and besides his accomplishments, he works full time to help at home financially.

Congratulations Dr. Elizabeth Chavez-Palacios!

Dr. Palacios The School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling MS program in the College of Health Professions at UTRGV recently received a 5-year,  $1,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.  This federal support helps expand the number of  rehabilitation counselors in the field;  rehabilitation counselors assist people with disabilities (physical, psychological, additions., etc.) to live independent lives. 

The grant will help fund students seeking Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Preparation training and pays full tuition and fees as well as a monthly stipend.  Additionally, financial supports are made available to students wishing to attend local, state and national conferences and reimbursement of credentialing examination fees.

Congratulations to all the SRSC student recipients of the College of Health Professions Student Excellence Awards.

We had students recognized at all three program levels for Academic Excellence, Community Service and Research Excellence. Undergraduate level: Josue Dimas and Antonio Gonzalez. MS level: Richard Clayton, Brianna Escobar, and Cindy Campos-Saucedo. PhD level: Brandi Cruz, Andrea Almaguer-Botero and Nancy Riddick. Here are a few photos of the evening. (Cindy Campos is not pictured)

SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards    SRSC student excellence awards

Denise Silcox and her dog Flip became the first certified Animal Assisted Crisis Response Team in the Rio Grande Valley.

Denise Silcox and Flip

AACR is a form of animal-assisted activities which provides comfort to those who have been affected by natural, human-caused, or technological disasters. AACR is effective because the safety, familiarity, novelty, and interest in the animal have been found to be impactful when building rapport with a person affected by crisis including first responders and crisis management staff. Pet Partners and FEMA worked together to provide training and to develop a “neighbor helping neighbor” model where teams are deployed close to home rather than having to travel long distances.

Andrea Almaguer-Botero placed fourth at the Graduate Student Research Showcase Fall 2019.

Title of Research: Improving the Classroom Experience by Proving Teachers with a Mindfulness Intervention.

Andrea 4th place    Andrea poster

UTRGV Program Nationally Ranked

KVEO.com - July 18, 2019 - EDINBURG, Texas — For the fifth year in a row a Master of Science program at UTRGV is nationally ranked.

U.S. News and World Report ranks the UTRGV Rehabilitation and Counseling Graduate Program 14th in the nation. In a previous ranking the program was tied at 15 with the University of North Texas in Denton. The program also ranks first among all UT System Schools and second in the state.

Dr. Elizabeth Chavez-Palacios, UTRGV Program Graduate Coordinator, “Our faculty sets us apart. Within our field we have top researchers that have been actually given awards at the national level.”

Dr. Chavez-Palacios adding that the school is very proud of the ranking and now has a goal of achieving a top 10 ranking for the program.

Profiles in Excellence

Denise Hernandez

July 16, 2019
Denise Hernandez


The reason that I chose to attend UTRGV as an undergraduate is because they have an excellent rehab program. Once I obtained my bachelor’s degree, I decided to enter into a master’s program because I enjoyed my experience as an undergrad and felt that UTRGV was able to provide me with a high quality and affordable education.

Read more about Denise Hernandez.

New UTRGV online degree program in Addiction Studies launches this Fall

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 6, 2018 –   The UTRGV   School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling  starting this fall semester will offer a brand new Bachelor of Science degree in Addiction Studies that is fully online.

The degree program has been developed to satisfy education requirements for becoming a   Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor  in Texas.

TELEHEALTH Certification Institute - Clinical Military Counselor Certificate (CMCC) course

The School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling at UTRGV will be hosting the Clinical Military Counselor Certificate (CMCC) Part-One course on  March 22, 2019 at the UTRVG McAllen Teaching Site. This 6 CE hour event covers the competencies of providing counseling and related services to active duty service members, veterans, veterans with disabilities, and their families.

This course teaches the competencies of providing counseling and related services to:

  • Active duty service members
  • Veterans
  • Veterans with disabilities
  • Family members

The full CCMC will increase your knowledge, awareness, and skills of the unique cultural differences in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment in military counseling and related services.
Five modules in the CCMC course offer participants comprehensive material related to the service member and veterans’ medical, psychosocial, behavioral, cultural, mental health, family life, vocational, and career transition needs.

Clinical Military Counselor Certificate Information flyer

Location: McAllen Teaching Site, 1800 S. Main St. #1100, Room # 1.103, McAllen, TX 78503
Date and time: 3/22 8AM-4PM

How to earn the CMCC certificate:

  1. Attend Part-One on 3/22, 6 CE hours, $197
  2. Complete Part-Two online as a self-study, 6 CE hours, $197

Save by registering for both Part-One and Part-Two $380

Course Details and Registration:  https://militarycounselingtraining.com/

You can contact the Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC at 585-687-8837 Support@TelehealthCertificationInstitute.com 

UTRGV School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling offers new leadership program for female undergrad students

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – FEB. 6, 2019 – The UTRGV School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling has initiated a new program called Leadership Now, open to undergraduate female students majoring or minoring in rehabilitation services and counseling.

Join us in congratulating Dr. Noreen Graf, the School Resident Artist.

Dr. Graf Moyer: Strong pieces not enough to save UVAL exhibit from lack of direction – The Monitor – Dec. 3, 2018 - This year’s “UVAL Annual Members Exhibition” at the Kika de la Garza Fine Arts Center in Mission offered more to think about than to see. Yes, there were a few positive art experiences in this show…

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu, Assistant Professor, who recently was announced as a  Visiting Investigator with the Langston University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center!

Veronica Umeasiegbu The Center receives funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.  With this appointment, Dr. Umeasiegbu will be mentored in conducting federally-funded disability-related research. Congrats Dr. V.! 


The Family Business: Three generations part of UTRGV Rehab Services program

Three generations in Rehab Three generations of rehabilitation services students at UTRGV and legacy institution UTPA – Bonnie Marie Notergiacomo, her son Jesus Alberto Basañez, and her mother Ernestina Notergiacomo (shown here posthumously, in a framed photograph) – all have been involved in the university’s Rehabilitation Services program, and all have been recipients of the federal RSA Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Education. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)
Grandmother, daughter and grandson all recipients of RSA Scholarship

By Amanda A. Taylor

EDINBURG, TEXAS – MARCH 15, 2018 – When it comes to giving back to the community, UTRGV student Jesus Basañez learned from some of the best. His grandmother, Ernestina Notargiacomo, started the ball rolling. Then her daughter (and Jesus’s mother), Bonnie Notargiacomo, followed. Now, it’s Jesus’s turn.

Read the full article here.

Profiles in Excellence

Joseph Barber

May 2, 2017
Joseph Houston Barber Jr.


Initially after graduation from high school, I received a full scholarship, through wrestling and academia, to Lindenwood University in Illinois. When they announced that they had not proceeded to make my degree program a full bachelor’s, I knew immediately that I wanted to come back and attend UTPA/UTRGV. Unlike other large campuses, I knew through high school tours that the campus was beautiful and was the perfect size to feel free, yet small enough to make great friendships and connections.

Read more about Joseph Houston Barber Jr..

**NEW** Contemporary Research in Disability and Rehabilitation Journal

The  Contemporary Research in Disability and Rehabilitation (CRDR) , is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed and open access journal, published quarterly by the School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. This journal is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration by publishing innovative empirical research germane to disability, rehabilitation counseling, allied health, and other disability-related fields.

Exciting news!! Our own Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu and Ms. Kim Finn have been recognized by the  National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) 

These are very prestigious awards by our main professional organization - they will be honored at our national conference in April! The National Council on Rehabilitation Education Spring 2017 Conference

Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu has been selected as New Career in Rehabilitation Education Award. This is a prestigious award in Rehab. To be eligible you must be within the first five years of your academic career. Self-nominations are not accepted and you have to have letters from professors outside your geographic area.

Ms. Kim Finn who has been selected as NCRE doctoral student of the year!

We are all proud off you Veronica & Kim!