(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.
The Roadrunner community and nearby residents are highly encouraged to cast their votes at UTSA, a designated early voting site for the March 3 Texas presidential primary election.H-E-B Student Union, Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The best way to learn what UTSA has to offer is to experience it for yourself. Come to our Open House and see all that UTSA has to offer. The day features admissions and financial aid workshops and presentations, campus tours and much more.Various Locations, Main Campus
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health care, you won’t want to miss UTSA’s 14th annual Health Professions Day. Meet with representatives of health professions programs at schools such as Texas Tech University Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, University North Texas Health Science Center, University of the Incarnate Word, and many more. Free and open to UTSA students, local area college and high school students, and community members.Student Union, Retama Galleria (SU First Floor Corridor), Main Campus
An FBI subject matter expert will discuss the threat to U.S. technology and public sector from foreign adversaries, specific technologies sought and vectors used to illicitly obtain them, how to best safeguard intellectual property.Durango Building (DB 2.112A), Downtown Campus
Why just leap when you can dash? The Alumni Association’s 36th annual Diploma Dash 5K and City Championship is a great opportunity to run or walk for a great cause: scholarships for UTSA students.Main Campus
Students are encouraged to attend to obtain important information about Spring Commencement and life after UTSA. Graduating students can order their cap and gown and other items, win prizes and capture lasting memories with fellow Roadrunners at a selfie station. Participants should take a UTSA student ID for entry.H-E-B Student Union, Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
UTSA’s first Wellbeing Fair is a part of the President’s Initiative of Enriching Campus Wellbeing. UTSA is committed to the well-being of each member of the campus community and recognizes that numerous factors contribute to overall wellness: physical and mental health, diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care, social behaviors and more. The fair will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in well-being activities, obtain well-being information and learn about available services. Participants will become more competent in making healthy decisions to take a more proactive approach in their own well-being.Paseo Principal, Student Union, Main 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.