(Aug. 29, 2019) -- Maria Elena Valdez was born in Eagle Pass, Texas to seasonal immigrant workers from Coahuila, Mexico. She remembers traveling between Mexico and the U.S. with her parents when she was young. Her father worked each summer in the Wisconsin fields, then he would take his family to Mexico each winter when the work season ended.
Although that was the family routine for most of Valdez’s early childhood years, her parents had a better plan for her future. They strived to overcome poverty so she could pursue the American dream. After years of moving, the family settled in San Antonio. Today, Valdez says it feels like home.
During Valdez’s junior year in high school, she met Miguel Bedolla, the director of the UTSA Health Career Opportunity Program. He encouraged her to join the UTSA Pathway to Health Professions program that year. The Pathway to Health Professions Program is housed under the Policy Studies Center within the UTSA College of Public Policy.
After graduating from Judson Early College Academy and earning an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Northeast Lakeview College, Valdez enrolled at UTSA in fall 2017 to pursue her bachelor’s degree. The first-generation college student also joined the UTSA Pathway to Health Professions Program and began studying local health care challenges.
“We learned a lot about the different health care issues that affect Bexar County regarding diabetes, mental health, food and medical assistance needs that the different sets of populations face,” said Valdez.
Upon completion of the program, Valdez obtained her certification as a community health worker.
“That opened up more doors for me,” she said. “I now can practice in the field while I work to obtain my bachelor’s degree.”
Valdez is currently leveraging her Community Health Worker certification at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. She counsels many of its emergency room patients so they leave the hospital with a better awareness of the resources that are available to them after they are released.
The UTSA undergraduate is planning on attending nursing school next year and hold a dual degree in Community Health and Nursing. She has been accepted to complete an internship with the University Health System Hospital at the Texas Diabetes Institute beginning this fall and will be graduating from UTSA this December with her Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health from the College of Education and Human Development.
“Maria Elena is absolutely committed to serving the population of San Antonio, she has already been certified by the State of Texas as a Community Health Worker through the Pathways to Health Professions Program, she is one of the best students in the program and is unwaveringly committed to be an excellent nursing professional" said Bedolla.
The Pathway to Health Professions program provides the students from the high schools with an educational program that will assist them in becoming competitive applicants to a health professional program in Allied Health, Dentistry or Medicine.
Explore a degree in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
This photo exhibit explores the history and tradition behind the Mexican drink.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to attend open forums featuring the three finalist candidates for the position of vice president for the Office of Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event is an opportunity for students who are interested in the STEM field to meet with employers looking to hire UTSA students for internship and full-time jobs. Bring your resume and dress to impress.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
This event is an opportunity for students of all majors to meet with employers looking to hire UTSA students for internship and full-time jobs. Bring your resume and dress to impress.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
The effort and acumen required for students to pursue their dream of a college education is substantial, and the obstructions potentially preventing them from degree completion are many. Dr. Vanessa Sansone will explore how these roadblocks can hinder the ability of vulnerable/diverse populations to traverse class structures.SAY Si, 1518 S. Alamo St., San Antonio
Popular author of Das Floss der Medusa (The Raft of Medusa), Franzobel, visits UTSA to facilitate a discussion (in English) about the current influx of migrants to Europe, the up-tick of right wing parties, and the parallels to his novel. The discussion is free and open to everyone.McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.01.28), Main Campus
The UTSA Technology Commercialization Center hosts this free webscast will discuss the critical steps when starting a business.Durango Building (DBB 2.112A), Downtown Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.