BY Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG — More than 1,000 high school students and their parents on Saturday explored the many opportunities available at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, during Discover UTRGV, a daylong recruitment event that provided a taste of what college life would be like at the university.

President Guy Bailey opened the day with a welcome for the prospective students, and shared his experiences as a first-generation college student at the University of Alabama.

“When I first walked onto campus, I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “I had one A-plus … on my blood test. Education turned my life around.”

He said UTRGV staff and faculty will do everything they can to make sure students not only enter the university but also graduate from it. He said UTRGV, now the ninth-largest university in the state, continues to grow and add more programs and other opportunities for students.

“Take advantage of all the resources here,” he said.

Students also heard from motivational speaker Aric Bostic, met faculty members who talked about what programs the university offers, and presented a mock lecture to give them a preview of what a college class would be like. Afterward, students attended an academic fair and lunch at the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex (UREC) on the Edinburg Campus. The event also included scholarship giveaways.

Alex Saldivar, an18-year-old senior at Harlingen Early College High School, said he applied to UTRGV because of its proximity to home, and because he can enjoy the same high-quality academic programs for a much more affordable price than at other Texas institutions.

“I like how the professors were so open; they were very engaging,” he said after an information session with faculty members from the College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Saldivar said he is interested in studying economics.

Isabel Gonzales, an 18-year-old senior at Robstown High School in Robstown, near Corpus Christi, said she already has been accepted to UTRGV and has committed to attending. Her boyfriend already attends UTRGV and she has visited the campus before, but what really caught her eye was UTRGV’s business program. She plans to major in business management and wants to have her own animation business one day. She especially likes how UTRGV’s business program fosters entrepreneurship.

“I want a program that will be able to help me start a business,” she said. “I don’t want to just work for someone. I want to be able to learn how to start it and how to keep it and how to keep it up instead of going down.”

The university began the annual Discover UTRGV recruitment event last spring to provide prospective students and the community the opportunity to come to campus to learn more about UTRGV, and to meet faculty and staff members, said Mayra Martinez, UTRGV’s associate director of Outreach and Recruitment.

“We really want to open up our doors to the university so that students and families can come in and see what we have to offer,” Martinez said.

Discover UTRGV also allows prospective students to familiarize themselves with the campuses and make friends before freshman orientation in the summer, Martinez said.

Students who commit to attending UTRGV can sign up for orientation sessions at Discover UTRGV before official registration for freshman orientation opens, she said.

UTRGV will host a Discover UTRGV event at its Brownsville Campus on March 5.

Other Discover UTRGV events are planned for March 12 at the Ramada Plaza Laredo in Laredo; March 30 at the Ortiz Center in Corpus Christi; and April 9 at the Double Tree San Antonio Airport in San Antonio.

For more information on UTRGV, visit the website at