POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 10:59am
UPDATED: Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 11:45am
EDINBURG, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — The University of-Texas Pan American celebrated another successful homecoming with several days of festivities designed to engage alumni and bring Valley residents to campus. Among the visitors this year was a very special guest who travelled all the way from Dallas to participate in what's becoming one of UTPA's biggest events. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
Dr. Rina Garza Davis is enjoying the lime light as she mingles with guests at UTPA's Homecoming 2013 Bronc Madness tailgate party. The 72 year old alum of the Edinburg institution says she's overjoyed and flattered by the attention even though it's been 50 years since she was named Pan Am's first homecoming queen. Proudly sporting the original sash announcing her title and homemade cardboard crown, the 1963 graduate greeted UTPA students, staff, alumni and friends of the university with pride and enthusiasm.
Dr. Rina Garza Davis/First UTPA Homecoming Queen,"I thank God for giving me this opportunity to be here because 50 years is a long time."
When we asked her to share her story, Davis talked about it as if it were yesterday. In fact, what was to be an exciting occasion for the young Hispanic student turned out to be an unpleasant experience. She says after being nominated and receiving the most votes, the results were appealed for reasons unknown to her. A second election was ordered and once again she prevailed and was declared the University's first homecoming queen.
Dr. Rina Garza Davis/First UTPA Homecoming Queen, "To have been the first homecoming queen after the second election was more valuable to me than the first simply because it proves that we do things right."
Doubts of success came even before Davis attended college. She recalls high school counselors telling her she was not college material and instead signed her up to take courses like typing and shorthand as a senior. But after graduating, she refused to give up and enrolled at UT Pan Am. Through the guidance and support of one of her professors, Davis received her undergraduate degree in physical education.
Dr. Rina Garza Davis/First UTPA Homecoming Queen, "She encouraged me, motivated me, mentored me before the word mentoring meant what it does today."
Davis went on to get a master's degree at Southern Methodist University and then a doctorate in education administration. Over the next 30 plus years she worked in almost every level of public and higher education. She ended her career in the Dallas Independent School District as the first Hispanic Associate Superintendent. She's proud of her accomplishments deemed not possible by her high school counselors
"My first group that I worked with were the counselors because I did not want them to make the mistake that they had made with me."
I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.