Unsung Heroes 2019

All through autumn the sun shines brightly down on the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab on South Padre Island. With the Isla Blanca beach just a few steps away, tropical plants and warm golden sand line the staircase leading to the cerulean building where Shelby Bessette spends most of her workday.

Shelby Bessette

Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” a man told a boy, who was trying to save starfish by gently throwing them back into the ocean.

John Guglielmo

It’s likely that most students walk by the cooling plant on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus and have no idea what it is. Many probably wonder about the streams of rushing water that cascade down the towering structure, but few realize this water plays a crucial part in powering the entire campus.

David Ortega

Lt. Arthur “Art” Barrera has a decorated history of law enforcement under his belt. Plaques and certificates hang alongside photos of him with prominent figures – Vice President Al Gore and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to name a few. Closer to his desk, you'll find framed photos of his two daughters, along with treasured gifts from them.

Arthur Barrera

Maps of the world are framed across Jessica Cantú’s shared office space. There are gifts from international students, too, and memorabilia to decorate UTRGV’s Office of International Admissions & Student Services on the Brownsville Campus.

Jessica Cantu

A collection of tiny, solar-powered scarecrow figurines dance to an imaginary beat next to the window in Maria Alicia Garcia’s office. Her desk, illuminated by the sun from that same window, is where Garcia starts her day of consulting with coworkers and answering their questions. For 47 years, she has worked for the university through all of its various configurations; Garcia has held only one other job in her entire career.

Maria Garcia

Deivi Salazar is a just phone call away. As a technology support specialist, he helps researchers and other members of the UTRGV community with his intuitive problem-solving. It can be a big job, and balancing tech requests keeps Salazar busy at the Biomedical Research and Health Professions Building on the Brownsville Campus.

Deivi Salazar

Throughout the day, parents, residents and staff come in and out of his office, but that is just a typical occurrence in Ruben Santibañez’s daily work routine. There are times when even his 5-year-old daughter happens to pay him a visit to brighten his day.

Ruben Santibañez

In her work cubicle on the third floor of the UTRGV School of Medicine on the Edinburg Campus, Anna Olivarez sets about making each day a better one for her co-workers.

Anna Olivarez

Alice Zents typically has a quiet day at the office. Still, she knows that no matter what her daily objective might be, she ultimately is responsible for easing the minds of inventors on campus.

Alice Zents

Joe Lara is a multi-tasker. He can go from checking maintenance on lab equipment to a round of restocking and checkup on every lab inside the new Music, Science & Learning Center on the Brownsville Campus. As a lab supervisor, each day brings him a mountain of work – but it’s work he loves.

Joe Lara

Esperanza Rocha gazes occasionally out her office window to enjoy a view of UTRGV’s beautiful front lawn. Her job is to answer questions from university faculty and staff about employment education, and she works hard to help make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Esperanza Rocha