Unsung Heroes:
Meet some of the people who help make UTRGV run

EDITOR’S NOTE: President Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

That certainly describes so many of the people who work at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. They work each day behind the scenes, away from spotlights and accolades, but still knowing they have a job to do that supports the university community and makes it run smoothly.

In 2016, UTRGV had 27,560 students and 1,372 faculty members. The campus covers 633 acres of land, with 10 colleges and a School of Medicine, all located in four different counties.

In order for such a vast institution to work efficiently, a large number of people must contribute, and some of them go unnoticed.

Our Unsung Heroes series highlights just a few of the people who often go overlooked, despite their importance and contributions.

Liliana Sanchez UTRGV librarian


Text by Steven Masso, student staff writer
Photos by Veronica Gaona, student staff photographer: https://www.flickr.com/gp/utrgvnews/m1FCN0

It’s finals week at UTRGV. The university library has extended its service time and has been open for 48 hours straight. The library is more crowded than usual with students, some looking tired and stressed, others energized and determined as they sift through pages of notes.

UTRGV librarian Liliana Sanchez has been in this situation herself, so she does all she can to comfort and assist students through chaotic periods.

What is your role here at UTRGV?
I’m the access service librarian at the Brownsville Campus.

How long have you worked here?
Since 2001. I started with the legacy institution at UTB-TSC as a part-timer. In 2007, I applied for a full-time position. In 2009, when I finished my master’s program in Library Science, I became a librarian. It’s an interesting career, one that I really love. I had always admired my supervisors and the other librarians for the work they did, and I thought, this is something I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life.

Describe your average day
That depends on my schedule. There are mornings when I come in at 7 a.m. to open up. Our daily objective is to focus on the priority – serving our students, facility and staff. We pride ourselves in providing quality service, whether it is to check out a book, provide a calculator, or just help out with printing. My day usually ends about 5 p.m., but it varies. For example, we are finishing our extended hours right now. I did an overnight shift on Sunday, where I started at 10 p.m. that night and ended on Monday the following day. We were providing coffee and giving away Scantrons (prepared forms used for multiple-choice and true-or-false testing) all night. I also have a 5-year old-waiting for me at home. I have to help with homework, cooking and cleaning. It’s nonstop when you have a 5-year-old.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Serving our students, and providing those additional services, like our extended hours. As we’re doing our hourly headcounts, we really get to see how many students are using the resources here, like the study rooms, the glass boards and the computers. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you are a part of their college career. I was once there and the library helped me so much, and now it’s my time to give back.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you
I’m writing a bilingual children’s book. It’s something that’s been on my bucket list for a long time. My husband, who is an English teacher, is doing the illustrations. It’s about a little boy who lives in an imaginary world filled with a combination of books and computers. I wanted to integrate this aspect of comparing books to technology. I’m hoping that, if all goes well by next year, I’ll be able to publish it.

Do you have a favorite memory, or a story, from your time here?
Well, I met my husband in a Communication class as a student here, and then we began dating. I’ve always really loved the Brownsville Campus at night, which he knew. I think it looks so beautiful. One night in March 2008, he asked me if I wanted to take a walk. He told me to close my eyes, and right in front of the library he knelt down and proposed. That’s one reason I really love being here. Every morning and every afternoon, he picks me up and drops me off at the same location where he proposed.

Do you feel a special bond with the UTRGV community?
I definitely do, not only here in Brownsville, but in Edinburg and Harlingen as well. I speak for us at the library as a whole, because I work with a great team. They are great people, and with all sincerity, we’re here to serve. That is what has helped us grow our bond with the students. We do it with pride and joy. Last year, some of our student employees graduated and I couldn’t go to commencement, so I watched it online. I couldn’t believe how many students I recognized. Like, ‘I helped him! I remember her!’ That’s a special connection, knowing I was a part of that.