Three students design winning holiday cards

The University of Texas System Chancellor James B. Milliken, from left, stands with University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville students 2019 President's Holiday Card Contest winners Victoria Bender who placed third, Jose Lozano who placed second and first place winner Lidia F Garcia as they all stand with UTRGV President Guy Bailey Thursday afternoon.

Some holiday cards carry a little extra meaning during Christmas.

In fact, for designing cards, three University of Texas Rio Grande Valley students in Brownsville won scholarships with cash awards in the 2019 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley President’s Holiday Card Contest.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey presented the winners at a reception Thursday afternoon at the Student Union on the Brownsville campus. He delayed the presentation, waiting for UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken to arrive.

Lydia F. Garcia, who won first place and a $1,000 scholarship, said having the extra money will allow her to buy gifts for less-fortunate residents of Matamoros.

The second- and third-place winners, senior studio art major Jose Lozano and Victoria Bender, a senior at UTRGV’s Math and Science Academy, each won $500 scholarships.

Garcia, a junior computer science major, said she hopes her card, “Happy Howdy Days: Vaqueros Being Book and Boot Smart,” will instill the holiday spirit and inspire students to relax but study hard with finals just around the corner.

The card is a computer illustration that incorporates carefully chosen symbols: A Christmas tree below a Vaquero Hat Bow centered on holiday garland, with a pair of Vaquero boots, a book and the greeting “Happy Holidays” underneath the tree. Ten apples adorn the branches.

The Vaquero Hat Bow symbolizes strength and loyalty “and emphasizes how UTRGV Vaqueros and Vaqueras have those qualities within,” Garcia says in a statement explaining the piece. There are exactly 10 apples, since the number 10 in numerology expresses pureness, positivity, potential and possibility.

Apples are long known to represent the power of knowledge and education, while the boots are a reference to “moving forward in a personal journey” and “booting up” through tough times to strive for academic success. … A book is a gift. It accepts everyone and always brings out the best in people,” she said.

Garcia also said she is proud of herself for winning the contest, adding it proves that with persistence a person can accomplish anything.

She said she and a group of friends will get together around Christmastime to take gifts to Matamoros.

“My holidays consist of being surrounded by incredible people who inspire me to become the best version of myself and for others as well. … I take this time of the year to reflect on who I am, how I can improve, what did I do wrong or right and what I learned from it to implement realizations for next year,” she said.

Garcia added that behind all of the elements in her card “there is a powerful message to self embrace, self love and self discipline … and to never forget the precious gifts that education can bring to us.”

All three cards were displayed at displayed at the front of the Plains Capitol Bank El Gran Salon reception area atop the Student Union.

Lozano’s designed his card from a digital photograph depicting tall palms and a Rio Grande Valley sunset. The Hanna High School graduate said he added Santa and his sleigh because he grew up believing in Santa and always hoped he would get to meet him.

Bender’s card is a painting inspired by her mother’s flower shop, which is filled with pink and red poinsettias during the holidays.