POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 12:09pm
UPDATED: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 5:13pm
EDINBURG, TX (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — As lawmakers review legislation that will transform the Rio Grande Valley by merging the existing University of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas-Pan American into a new university that will include a medical school, those who are or have been a part of UT Pan Am over the years came together to celebrate what's become one of the institution's biggest events...Homecoming Week. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with highlights of the week-long festivities.
Never in the history of UTPA has Bronc spirit been displayed with such force across campus than during this year's homecoming week. Hundreds of students took to the streets to cheer and show their support for their university, while others rallied on behalf of their school organization chanting from atop their colorful and creative floats in the first ever well attended parade.
"As soon as I turned 18 and as soon as I graduated from high school, I thought to myself, I want to leave but you know what, UTPA is such a great school , a great college and I’ve learned so much here so I’m really proud to be a Bronc."
The week-long homecoming festivities also brought in friends of the university as well as devoted alumni who travelled from as far as way as Houston and Dallas to pay tribute to the University that not too long ago celebrated its 85th birthday. They joined UTPA students, staff, faculty and visitors at events like the Bronc Madness Tailgate Party where excitement, music and the smell of home cooked chicken and fajitas filled the air. Among those mingling with the crowds...members of the university's 2000 Bronc Cheerleading team, the institution's only group to win a national championship. The former classmates had the opportunity to reminisce and participate that evening in a special performance during the Broncs basketball game.
Alex Cano, Former UTPA Cheerleader, "We just excited that the university is doing something like this it's one of the first times that it ever happens. We're looking forward to it next year. We have a big group here and i think next year is going to be bigger and better."
Another special guest joining the activities was 72 year old Rena Garza Davis, UT Pan Am's first homecoming queen, crowned 50 years ago in 1963.
Rena Garza Davis, First Homecoming Queen, "I thank God for giving me this opportunity to be here because 50 years is a long time."
Former basketball star and member of the 1963 Pan American College NAIA championship basketball team Luke 'Big Jack Jackson was also a guest of honor at a celebration to retire his Number 54 jersey. Other Homecoming 2013 highlights included a Champagne Brunch where members of the class of 1963 were inducted in the 50+ (plus) year club, and an Alumni Ball where some 500 people gathered to enjoy a Las Vegas themed style event to celebrate The University of Texas-Pan American's past, present and future.
Veronica Gonzales, Vice President for University Advancement, "This has been a night where it’s been a little bit of everything. We wanted people to have fun. We wanted them to see the great things that are happening at UTPA, our history where we’ve been and where we’re going. "
I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.