Almost 42 years to the day, my mother, who was a blue collar worker, and my dad, who was a blue collar worker, they drove my oldest brother to UT-Pan American in Edinburg.

They did not have a dependable car so left early to get him there in time and during daytime. 

They dropped him off by the gymnasium thinking those were the dormitories. And with a couple of HEB bags they said, hurry, get in there. That is where you are going to go. 

And so he moved and walked towards the campus, realizing, later, that the dorms were actually across the campus. 

Art Cavazos

My parents rushed back home because the car was not dependable. 

Almost 42 years to the day and here I stand before you, as a first generation college graduate and my brothers and sisters, also first generation college graduates.

Some of you have heard me say this before: We don’t want to be exception anymore, we want to be the rule. We want every child that wants a higher ed education to be able to access it. And we as the adults have a responsibility to remove those barriers that get in the way for our families to access it, higher ed. 

I don’t believe in coincidences. That Dr. Bailey, that the mayor, that Dr. Perez, our amazing board of trustees, our commissioners, that they are all in their current positions just by chance. I actually believe in God winks. And I think this is a wink from Him to remind us that we have a responsibility for those that come after us. We are put in these positions, in leadership positions, not so that we hold a chair but that we forge on and pave the way for those that are going to come after us. That is an important guideline. I can only envision ten, 20, 30, 40 years from now, who will be speaking at these kinds of events in our beloved Harlingen city and our beloved HCISD and what they will aspire for. 

You see, these kind of buildings, while they are brick and mortar, give people hope and remind them of what is possible. I would say it is a beacon of hope. 

Not all my cousins were able to go to higher ed. They struggled through life, with this pandemic. And you know, you have watched the news, those that have had less means are being hit the hardest. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to give people access to opportunities such as this. 

Our building will have some pathways that we believe our kids will be able to access: meaningful employment in computer sciences, in engineering, in our teaching professions, and other baccalaureate pathways as we see fit.

It goes without saying that our state and nation are going through an unprecedented crisis that is affecting us all. We must respond to this crisis rather than react to it and that is what we do best in Harlingen. We respond to these things. It is comforting to know that even in an ever changing world such as the one that we live in today, that HCISD’s commitment to elevating students’ success is unwavering. Our schools are vessels of hope and we continue to strive everyday to provide the best educational opportunity for them all. 

You see, folks, one day we will look back at this decision that we made, filled with pride, filled with pride pdf what is possible. I look to the day when our kids will be celebrating alongside us and be able to access meaningful employment. Today marks an enormous milestone for HCISD and the early college high school, which opened its doors in 2007. We will continue to expand and improve as we move forward and provide opportunities for our students and for our staff. 

The impact of this partnership is monumental. It is building a strong bridge between our community and post-secondary. 

Leaders are illuminated when the waters are turbulent, not when the waters are calm. And some may say, what business do we have in celebrating a groundbreaking today, and I would challenge back and say, it is during a pandemic that we look for the opportunities to emerge even stronger. 

Stay the course everyone, we will get through this and we will emerge stronger and even more committed than ever to creating meaningful opportunities. I challenge us to be ready for the next God wink and seize the moment and the opportunity to make a difference.

Thank you leaders of Harlingen, thank you leaders of HCISD, and thank you to the leaders of UTRGV. Our kids are blessed that we are in the positions that we are. God bless each and everyone of you and God bless HCISD. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by Dr. Art Cavazos, superintendent of Harlingen Consolidated School District at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for a new Early College High School. The project is a partnership between HCISD and UT-Rio Grande Valley. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary is the second part of a two-part series on the groundbreaking. Click here to read part one. 

Editor’s Note: Among the dignitaries to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony were UTRGV President Guy Bailey, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell, UT System Regent Dr. Nolan Perez, MD, and Cavazos.

Here is a podcast of the groundbreaking ceremony, produced by Mario Munoz. The audio was captured by Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports:

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