EDINBURG, RGV – Presiding over his last HESTEC as a member of Congress, Rubén Hinojosa said he was moved beyond words by the inspiring speech given by Sara Martinez Tucker, a UT System Regent originally from Laredo.
Martinez Tucker gave the keynote speech on Latina Day at HESTEC. Latina Day drew about 700 mothers and daughters from South Texas.
HESTEC stands for Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week. The conference is now in its 15th year and Hinojosa co-founded it.
“This year’s Latina Mother’s and Daughter’s Day was a great success. We had some of the most outstanding speakers we have ever had. UT Regent Sara Martinez gave a wonderful message to the mothers and then to the daughters and explained to them that regardless of what the obstacles were, that they could overcome them just like she had done when she was their age,” Hinojosa said.
“It was a remarkable speech that inspired all the mothers and made them so proud that they had come to this event together with their daughters. There is no question in my mind that the mothers will leave this HESTEC event today with great determination that their daughters can do it. If Ms. Martinez can do it, their daughters can do it.”
In her remarks, Martinez Tucker asked the students why they were at HESTEC. She answered the question herself. “We need you,” she said, pointing out that Texas will need 88,000 engineers and computer scientists in the next 10 years. She said the state needs to graduate 9,000 engineers and computer scientists a year, but is graduating only 5,500 a year.
Martinez Tucker was the first in her family to go to college. She now serves not only on the UT board or regents but also the University of Notre Dame’s board of trustees. She was previously an under-secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, where she oversaw all policies, programs and activities related to postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid.
Her biography on the UT System website states that Martinez Tucker worked for nine years as the CEO and president of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), where she pursued an aggressive goal to double the rate of Hispanics earning college degrees. In her time at the helm of HSF, Martinez Tucker raised $280 million for scholarships, growing annual scholarships from $3 million to over $25 million, and launching community outreach programs to raise college expectations in Latino families and communities.
Prior to joining HSF, Tucker spent 16 years at AT&T. In her last assignment at the company, she served as a regional vice president for AT&T’s Global Business Communications Systems. She also served as Vice President for Consumer Operations, leading its 6,500 employees in serving AT&T’s 80 million consumers. Under her leadership, this group helped its division earn the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award.
Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a reporter for the San Antonio Express News before returning to U. T. Austin to earn her master’s in business administration. Tucker has been named as an Outstanding Young Texas Ex and a Distinguished Alumna at U. T. Austin and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, and the University of Maryland University College.
Tucker and her husband, Greg, a management consultant, live in Dallas.
“Whether you want to be a reporter, whether you want to work in corporate America, whether you want to lead a national not-for-profit, whether you want to work for the president of the United States, or now serve on the governing board for The University of Texas System and you sit back and think, ‘It’s not possible’ – I want you to sit back and remember you are starting out stronger than I am,” Martinez Tucker said in her HESTEC speech.
“Everything is possible for you, and for everyone who will follow in your footsteps.”
Martinez Tucker said she could not have achieved what she has without her parents’ support. She recalled that in high school, a counselor told her she was not college material, even though she was ranked No. 1 of 364 students. So, she carved her own path to success, with the support of her parents. Her first job out of college was as a reporter for the San Antonio Express News.
Martinez Tucker had advice for students as they head into their next journey – college life. Don’t underestimate the help that is out there for you,” she said. She told the young Latinas in the audience not to overestimate the obstacles they think they may encounter in the future, and to not be embarrassed to ask questions.
“I never attended anything like this, so I know that you are starting stronger than I did,” she said.
Congressman Hinojosa said speeches like the one given by Martinez Tucker will inspire young Latinas in the Valley.
“As Congressman for this area and having witnessed 15 of these HESTEC celebrations, this one is one that is going to really add to enrollment of young men and women into the universities we have within our great state of Texas, especially right here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Hinojosa said.
“UTRGV offers so many opportunities. It is making higher education accessible and affordable because of Pell Grants and student college loans and other financial aid that is available. Thank you, Rio Grande Valley for supporting this initiative because it is going to change the world.”