Thursday, May 30, 2024

UTSA names popular STEM-based summer program after founder Manuel P. Berriozábal

UTSA names popular STEM-based summer program after founder  Manuel P. Berriozábal

Maria and Manuel P. Berriozábal helped create equitable opportunities for access to higher education.

JUNE 6, 2023­ — The University of Texas at San Antonio today announced it has named its highly respected STEM-based summer program the “Dr. Manuel P. Berriozábal Prefreshman Engineering Program” in honor of the immeasurable impact of founding faculty member and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Manuel P. Berriozábal.

The program naming recognizes Berriozábal’s innovation and commitment to advancing San Antonio through the promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for middle and high school students and expanding opportunities for students of all backgrounds to access a college degree.

Berriozábal joined UTSA as a mathematics professor in 1976. Three years later, he established the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) to create a pathway for Hispanic youth in San Antonio to participate in educational opportunities in STEM areas. The pre-college program continues to deliver summer enrichment opportunities to middle and high school students, encouraging them to pursue college degrees in STEM fields and contributing to the development of a diverse pipeline of STEM professionals.

“Dr. Berriozábal has left a legacy at UTSA. He made critical STEM programming accessible and more equitable for young people in San Antonio.”

“Throughout his life, Dr. Berriozábal has demonstrated a deep passion for the education and advancement of younger generations. As the impact of PREP continues to grow with every graduating class, it is only appropriate to name a program of this caliber after its visionary leader and founder,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “PREP represents UTSA’s mission to educate, train and mentor the next generation to develop a robust workforce pipeline for the future of San Antonio and all of Texas.”

Manuel Berriozábal congratulates a student on stage for completion of the PREP program during closing ceremonies.

Berriozábal collaborated with local university and community leaders to establish the program at UTSA and integrate it into San Antonio’s school districts. During PREP’s early days, he also sought funding from national, state, local and private sources to provide the program to youth at no cost.

Over the years, the program expanded to more than 125 school districts across Texas. Berriozábal remained director of the program for 25 years, traveling to each site throughout the city, state and country to ensure its growth, effectiveness and success. Following his administration of the program, Berriozábal included PREP scholars in his senior level math courses at UTSA, maintaining a connection to the program he created and has forever cherished.

Today, PREP has more than 50,000 Texas alumni, with over 65% of participants identifying as Hispanic and 53% as female. Equally as important, the program has become so well regarded that universities across the country have adopted the model. PREP now exists at 33 sites in 25 cities and seven states.

Berriozábal understood that science, technology, engineering and math were fields of study that could launch successful careers in industries critical to the advancement of every community across the U.S. He also recognized the value of diversity in these fields and believed that encouraging those in underserved communities to pursue STEM studies would foster creativity and equitable solutions to the challenges faced by society.

“Dr. Berriozábal has left a legacy at UTSA. He made critical STEM programming accessible and more equitable for young people in San Antonio,” said Araceli Martinez Ortiz, UTSA’s Microsoft Endowed Professor of Engineering and director of PREP. “To honor the firm foundation he created for PREP, our university will continue his good work to expand PREP to every student possible and further diversify the professional landscape in STEM fields. It is fitting that PREP will now be named in his honor.”

Berriozábal spent his career teaching at some of the most respected higher education institutions in the country, including UCLA, Loyola Marymount, the University of New Orleans and Tulane.

In 2013, former Mayor Julián Castro recognized Berriozábal’s contributions to the community by renaming Café College, San Antonio's college access and guidance center, after him. Today, the Dr. Manuel P. Berriozábal Café College works with the San Antonio Education Partnership to provide in-person and virtual advising to local residents who want to attend college, furthering access to higher education. 

Berriozábal’s other awards and accolades include:

  • Inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society, 2013
  • American Society for Cell Biology Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education, 2009
  • UT System Chancellor's Council Innovations in Education Award, 2007
  • Mathematical Association of America Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics, 2001
  • Named one of six “Giants in Science” by the Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1998
  • I Have A Dream Foundation Endeavors Award, 1998
  • Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award: Education, 1994

“Dr. Berriozábal was a passionate educator who was committed to fostering diversity in the STEM fields. I worked for PREP and with him closely in the early 1990s and witnessed his impact on the young minds of our community. I saw him help middle and high school students who never saw themselves with a future in STEM gain a lifelong love for math and science and flourish in high-tech careers," said Greg Cortez, UTSA assistant vice president of Advancement Information and Analytics. "He has changed the lives of so many families across the nation.”

Berriozábal’s wife, María, supported his mission to create equitable opportunities for access to higher education and likewise led a life of public service. In 1981, she became the first Latina to be elected to the San Antonio City Council, where she served for a decade. In 1991, she ran a historic campaign for Mayor of San Antonio but narrowly lost. She continued collaborating with others to advocate for the DREAM Act and addressed issues of gentrification, energy, poverty, water and human and civil rights.

She founded Hispana Unidas – a woman’s organization dedicated to their education and community service, served as a delegate to the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference in Beijing and was appointed U.S. Representative to the Inter American Commission on Women. Maria also authored her memoir, “Maria, Daughter of Immigrants,” to tell the story of her parents, whose families fled the Mexican Revolution and settled in Lockhart, Texas. 


Manuel and María Berriozábal celebrate the naming of the Dr. Manuel P. Berriozábal Café College.

In addition to their work, the Berriozábals regularly give back to the San Antonio community and have supported a variety of causes over the years including the American Mathematical Society, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the Jesuits Southern Province and UTSA. They say that they look forward to seeing PREP, UTSA and San Antonio continue to grow and help students reach their full potential.

"Manuel and Maria Berriozábal are true advocates and dedicated public servants. They have invested their lives in the growth and advancement of a city they love and cherish," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. "Dr. Berriozábal is a visionary who created an avenue for our university to model a program that inspires young generations to believe that college is possible, regardless of circumstance. PREP has generated a pipeline of talented youth across San Antonio, the state of Texas and beyond who are prepared for successful transitions to universities like UTSA. Our city, region and state are stronger because of the Berriozábals’ work.”

Jennilee Garza

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