PHARR, Texas – Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and UT-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey spoke at a news conference that was held to announce the expansion of UTRGV’s School of Nursing. 

A new teaching facility operated by the school of nursing will be built on land immediately south of the Pharr Events Center, on N. Cage Boulevard.

Here are the remarks of the two leaders at the news conference.

Dr. Guy Bailey:

Thank you so much. First of all, I appreciate you being here. It is not the coolest day is it? But, hey, we have wonderful winters so you take a few days like today.

It is a great time to be in higher education in the Rio Grqnde Valley. We have strong political leadership, much of which you just were introduced to. Some more of which you will see on video later. So, we have very strong political leadership. But there are two things that are really different. Remember, in the introductions, you were introduced to a regent from the Rio Grande Valley and to the chair of the higher education coordinating board from the Rio Grande Valley. I want you to think about that. The stars are really aligned for us to do some great things. With the great political leadership we have and… no better example than what we have, here in Pharr. Forward-thinking, supportive, always out ahead of what is going on. Hey, this is a great place to be. 

When we first talked about this, you talk to a lot of people about doing partnerships. But what Pharr is able to accomplish here is tremendous. It is not just facilities. It is programmatic support and those are the things you need to increase the number of nurses in the Valley. And, by the way, you see these people right here. These are nursing students. You raise your hand if you are a UTRGV nursing student. (Applause)

Remember, that is really why we are here today. We are not only going to have great kids. We are going to have a lot more of them coming forward. So, it is an honor to be part of this. I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to be president of UTRGV, to work with the strong political leadership we have and we have some great leadership internally, too. You met Provost Arney, and Veronica Gonzales, our vice president for community and governmental relations. We have terrific leadership here. With the partnerships we have, with people like Pharr we are going to go a long way. 

Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez

Thank you. Bienvenidos. Buenas tardes. Good afternoon. Welcome everyone. Great to see a lot of white coats. That is good. We need you guys, especially now in this Covid time, this pandemic.

I want to thank everybody for being here today. Dr. Bailey, thank you. Nolan Perez, of course. MaryJane, thank you – once again, our new dean of nursing. Thank you. There are a lot of partners here. 

A refresher course, real quick. The City of Pharr has always believed that partnerships are the fastest way to get anything done. We also know that locally everything gets done. That is why we are here again with UTRGV. Under Dr. Guy Bailey’s tenure we have partnered not once but twice. The first one, for memory’s sake, across the freeway is the nanatorium. That is our dual project that we are doing together with the school district. That is our project. Representing PSJA is, of course, Dr. Arredondo. Do you mind standing up, so people can recognize you? This is our partner as well. 

And now we are here today to celebrate a second one. A great endeavor that we all know we need. The reason these people were mentioned is because education is the foundation and is the great equalizer. Region One is extremely important for that, as is the school district. We know that without you guys, you start very young, we push through education and that could not be done without you. That is why we wanted to make sure you were involved in this process. We believe in these partnerships, especially with Dr. Alvarado’s leadership as well, helping us with Region One. 

The school districts, we will be partnering with the school districts to make sure we get the cream of the crop when it comes to our nursing students. You are going to find there are a lot of good students here. They always leave the area. They want to go into medicine and nursing but they don’t because there are not enough slots, not enough infrastructure, not enough help. But, we are going to solve their problem. We are going to give a little help to you, the City of Pharr. And we are glad this is happening. 

This has long been overdue. We all know we have a national shortage of nursing. We all know we have family members affected by it. All of us have had it. But now we going to solve this problem. It may appear to be a drop but it is a big drop in the bucket, a very large drop. Because you are going to have a multi-million dollar investment being done here, in the Rio Grande Valley. We say Rio Grande Valley because it affects the Rio Grande Valley. It affects the State of Texas and the nation, what we are about to do. We want to accelerate our students from high school to go through and become nurses if they so decide to do so, with our local district. 

We know that the county also plays a big part. One of the biggest culprits, as I call him, is Commissioner Cantu. Can you stand up, sire, for a minute, so we can recognize you? Commissioner Cantu has always supported, always put education forward as one of his endeavors, whether it be WiFi for everybody, whether it be roads to make sure our children get there. Always keeping the children at heart and their parents, everybody’s parents at heart because we need to get you to hospital. We need to get to where we need to be.

Nursing is a critical pathway for education but also an opportunity. But it is also for our health. Whether you realize it or not, sooner or later you will need a nurse. You will need not only a physician but a nurse in that facility. Right now we know we have such a drastic shortage. We had it before but now it is really terrible. And as Fred Farias and I have discussed before, this is a time for us to act. So Pharr, with the help of UTRGV has taken the lead in the Rio Grande Valley. We are going to step up to the plate, we are going to commit resources, there are dollars, there are Cares dollars as well we are putting in to make sure this endeavor succeeds. 

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows UT-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey and Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez signing an agreement to expand UTRGV’s School of Nursing in Pharr. (Photo credit: City of Pharr)

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the UTRGV-City of Pharr collaboration. Click here to read Part One. Part Three will be published in our next edition.

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