BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Texas Southmost College is set to sign a collaboration agreement with the Tamaulipas Secretary of Education at a ceremony in Brownsville on Friday.

Melinda Rodriguez, TSC’s vice president for institutional advancement and workforce training, announced the event during a livestream on Facebook with Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna, revealing the college has had positive communication with Hector Escobar Salazar’s office.

Melinda Rodriguez

“We have had great dialogue with the Secretary of Education. Next week we will be signing a collaboration agreement with the Secretary to begin exploring exchanges with students, professors, creating symposiums and workshops and events geared towards the mutual interests of both countries, but also, specifically, at the institutions they represent and Texas Southmost College,” Rodriguez said, during the livestream conversation.

A ceremony for the signing agreement is slated to take place at 12 noon on Friday, June 16 at TSC, with the College’s Board of Trustees in attendance.

“This is the culmination of looking now, collectively, together, at those opportunities to create bridges where we can not only exchange ideas in teaching, but also foster opportunities for us to create partnerships in the area of workforce training, our traditional degrees, but also new programs in the areas of law enforcement and technology,” Rodriguez said.

Asked by Hanna what specifically the Secretary of Education in Tamaulipas and TSC are looking at, Rodriguez said: “The canvas is wide and clear. There are great opportunities for both countries and both institutions. The Secretary of Education and Texas Southmost College want to explore those opportunities and we have been specifically speaking about the areas of law enforcement, we have a wonderful criminal justice institute, which is our police academy, and we are looking at opportunities to expand that already and grow our programs.”

Hector Escobar Salazar

Rodriguez intimated that Escobar’s Office is interested in developing law enforcement programs with TSC.

“That is an area of interest for the State of Tamaulipas and how they provide additional training to their law enforcement professionals there. That is an area we are looking at.”

Rodriguez also spoke about the importance of workforce training for Tamaulipas and TSC. Tamaulipas has tens of thousands of manufacturing workers in its maquilas in Brownsville’s sister city in Matamoros.

“This is the beginning of that effort. Not just the dialogue, we are going to roll up our sleeves to see how we can both work together to actually create those opportunities for citizens on both sides of the border,” Rodriguez added.

We're LIVE in Brownsville with Texas Southmost College VP of Institutional Advancement Melinda Rodriguez to discuss the school's role in the community, involvement in workforce training, and YOUR suggested topics. Comment topics/questions as they come to you, and we'll do our best to get to all of them.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Thursday, June 8, 2017

TSC in Willacy County

During the livestream, Rodriguez also discussed education courses TSC will be offering in Raymondville. She praised the mayor and city commissioners of Raymondville, along with the city’s economic development corporation for helping forge the Willacy County-TSC partnership. Also deserving praise, she said, were state Rep. Ryan Guillen and state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

“We have done one outreach event where we had over 100 people from the community show up. They did a walk for education prior to that. Our interim vice president for student services went out there with a team of people and met with people in the community. Come to find out there are a lot of people that already have college credits towards an associate’s degree and towards a bachelor’s degree,” Rodriguez said.

“The community saw they have an unmet need, in terms of providing a pipeline of future educators. That is really what started the discussion with us.”

Given that school districts are big employers in rural areas such as Willacy County, TSC believes is important to focus on educating students to become teachers, especially those who already have college hours towards completion of an associate’s degree. In future, Rodriguez said, TSC could offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education in Raymondville.

“In Raymondville and Willacy County, the ISDs are considered the large employers. They (local officials) saw that opportunity, they did surveys, people responded positively,” Rodriguez said. “We already have 30 people already beginning the registration process from that 100 group of people.”

Rodriguez said TSC is “very excited” to be creating a presence in Willacy County. “We are here to create educational opportunities for everybody regardless of whether it is a PhD, industry, change of career. We understand that distance can be a hardship. We were more than glad to pack our stuff in our car and get to Willacy County and start that dialogue with them and figure out how we get this done.”

Looking ahead, Rodriguez said the future for TSC likely includes satellite campuses.

“I don’t know where but I know we continue to see an increase in (rural communities) like Los Fresnos. How can we bring that type of training that we need? To be competitive cities in terms of economic development, but also change the financial trajectory of people in their community? That is exactly what we are supposed to be doing so we are very excited to be in that process right now with several of the surrounding communities,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the next meeting between TSC and Raymondville and Willacy County officials will take place in Raymondville on June 15.


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