Q. What has been your motivation for continually supporting TAMIU’s growth and development through your legislative leadership?
Striving for excellence in higher education for all Texans is my passion, and establishing a four-year university in Laredo was my priority goal when I ran for the Texas Senate in 1986. Memories of my often vexing challenges in commuting from Laredo to UT-Austin to pursue my PhD motivate me to facilitate the efforts of all who pursue a university education in Laredo. Knowledge of the importance of increasing the number of college graduates in our region motivates me to champion legislation and funding that benefits TAMIU. Because I have championed these goals since 1967 when my husband, Carlos, and I worked for Senator Wayne Connally, prioritizing the growth and development of our University is embedded in my legislative lifestyle.
The opening of our University in 1995 changed Laredo forever. Its development as a first-class institution with an international mission will impact our region and our state in ways that may be difficult to fathom today. Given this
understanding, I am motivated by the belief that what is good for TAMIU is good not only for our community, but also for our great state and beyond.
In the 35 years that the University has been part of Laredo, what critical issues and responses to them do you feel have helped it to secure a brighter future?
Texas A&M International University
enjoys a rich history of milestones 14 prism
reached by countless leaders and supporters who helped secure its bright future. From my perspective, however, four stand out. l In 1987, my freshman year in the Texas Senate, we not only survived an attempt to close Laredo State University, which was an “upper-level educational center,” but also passed my Senate Bill 658, which elevated LSU to an “upper-level educational institution” and removed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s authority to close it at will.
In 1989, during my second legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed three critical bills that I authored: Senate Concurrent Resolution 49 established a joint committee to study developing and establishing LSU as a four-year university; SB 579, which was rolled into SB 122, merged the University System of South Texas, including LSU, into The Texas A&M University System; and SB 583 established the Graduate School of International Trade at LSU. l These legislative measures paved the way to passing my SB 6 in 1993, changing LSU’s name to Texas A&M International University and re-creating it as a four- l
year University authorized to confer undergraduate and graduate degrees,
including doctoral degrees and joint degrees with institutions throughout the country and in Mexico and Canada. l Working with countless local leaders and especially with the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and our current lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, we have secured impressive levels of state funding for programs, facilities, and faculty. The Texas Legislature has made it possible for Laredo to host the crown jewel of The Texas A&M University System, a jewel
that is worthy of increasingly significant support from philanthropists who can augment our growth and development.
Higher education is clearly a part of your personal success and that of your family. Despite increased access to higher education in Laredo, too many students delay or suspend their plans for higher education. What can you say to them to encourage them to continue their pursuits and “B-On Time”?
No Excuses. That’s what I tell students of all ages who are capable of pursuing a higher education at TAMIU. I encourage them to carry as heavy a course load as possible while prioritizing faith and family; to seek financial aid and suitable part-time or full-time jobs; to identify ways of earning academic credit for work experience; and to complete degrees in the least time possible, thereby saving money and enhancing earning capacity.
Often I share my story about being self-supporting since I was 17, getting married to a 21-year-old first-year law student when I was 18, and earning three degrees from UT-Austin with a 3.9 GPA while married and holding as many as three part-time jobs. To illustrate that “where there’s a will there’s a way,” I describe my experience of commuting to UT as a full-time doctoral student while also teaching and working full-time at
Laredo Junior College. No Excuses. Students have countless opportunities to benefit from the increased access to higher education in Laredo.
Because dreams postponed too often develop into dreams denied, they