UTPA Alumni Chapter President Shares Ways of Giving Back
Sometimes, life brings us to precisely where we’re supposed to be and among the people whom we’re supposed to meet. Call it fate or coincidence, but for Blanca Garza Lozano, BA ’76, that’s exactly how her role as the President of the San Antonio Alumni Chapter for The University of Texas-Pan American unfolded.
Her history with the University began as a student, attending what was then Pan American University (PAU). She graduated with her bachelors in government in 1976 and attributes her strong educational and professional foundation to the diversity she encountered on campus.
“I had wonderful opportunities with great professors from different departments. I met many people from different parts of the Valley, many of whom are still dear friends,” she said.
Bronc blood runs in the family; two of Blanca’s younger sisters also graduated from the University and one of her nieces is currently enrolled.
Blanca says she was grateful that Pan American University existed and gave students the opportunity to earn a valuable college education close to home. Originally from Elsa, TX, she had spent her entire life in the Rio Grande Valley and attending college was no different.
“I was very happy that Pan American was there and it gave students like me and others the opportunity to not have to go so far to get a good education,” she said.
After completing her education as a Bronc, Blanca moved onto Aggie Land and earned her masters in political science from Texas A&M University. In only four and a half years, Blanca had earned both her bachelors and masters degrees. By her early 20’s, she moved further away from the RGV and took her first job in Corpus Christi, working for the Coastal Bend Council of Government. Two years later, she ended up in San Antonio, where she began working for the City of San Antonio and retired after 29 years. “It’s hard for me to think that I would have even stayed here this long,” she said.
Living with her husband, Roland and two children, Michael Rene and Valerie Anne, it was in San Antonio where she had a random run-in with an old coworker and active board member of the UTPA San Antonio Alumni Chapter at a local restaurant.
“I saw him and went to say hello. Then I ran into another gentleman that I knew from my days at Pan American. I asked, ‘What are you all doing here?’ Then I realized that they were all wearing green shirts.”
Dressed in UT Pan American’s school colors, Blanca stumbled upon the group of SA Alumni Chapter Board Members during their monthly meeting. The friendly run-in led to a friendly invite to join the organization.
So, I became a member. I attended President Nelsen's first visit here in 2011, and shortly after, they asked me to be the Historian for their Chapter."
After serving in that capacity, Blanca took the role of President just over one year ago. Since then, she says she has thoroughly enjoyed leading the diverse group. “We have members that attended when it was PAU, younger people who are UTPA grads, several retirees, and some who are working and have a family.”
The San Antonio alumni chapter is comprised of just over 20 members with a great potential for significant growth. “We’re trying to get the word out as best we can, but it’s difficult for people to juggle work and family. But whatever they can give of their time is appreciated.”
With help from the Alumni Relations Office, the SA Alumni Chapter coordinated a visit from Dr. Nelsen in April 2013. He addressed the group about plans for the new university. “Dr. Nelsen is very passionate about the University and the Valley, and it’s contagious. We recruited several new members as a result of that event. While we’re small, our plan is to increase involvement and membership, and the Alumni Relations Office does an excellent job in supporting us.”
The group meets monthly, holds regular mixers along with other events to entice new members, and they actively give back to the community. In December 2013, the SA Alumni Chapter closed out the year by conducting a Christmas toy drive, as part of their annual holiday gathering, to donate toys to children at the St. Peter - St. Joseph Children’s Home in San Antonio.
Along with leading the San Antonio Alumni Chapter, Blanca also supports the University through various contributions, including her most recent gift to the Count Me In! Campaign, which supports student scholarships.
“My heart is in the Valley and will always be. The needs there are great and many students will benefit greatly from this campaign. That’s where I felt that our contribution should go.”
Blanca says UT Pan American gave her what she needed to truly succeed in her career. She appreciates the knowledge she gained, the people she met and the support that she received from the outstanding faculty. For those reasons, she encourages alumni to give back to the University in one of various ways.
“As soon as alums get on their feet, they should consider giving back of their time and their talent. It doesn’t have to be monetary. Now that a medical school will be built, there will be enormous growth and massive changes at UT Pan American and in the Rio Grande Valley; now is the time to get involved.”
If you are interested in engaging with the UTPA San Antonio Alumni Chapter, please visit Alumni Relations online. You can also email Chapter President Blanca Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on their next event.