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Success in the sun

Maria Pedraza always knew she would fulfill her lifelong dream and obtain her master’s degree. But the 44-year-old mother of two grown sons never imagined it would only take her 15 months, thanks to the University of the Incarnate Word’s new Graduate Studies Program in Corpus Christi.

“My only other alternative here in Corpus Christi was a three- to four-year program,” Pedraza says. “Realizing my dream in such a short amount of time was well worth the hard work, determination and sacrifices along the way.”

Pedraza and 28 other career-oriented professionals throughout the Coastal Bend area began the university’s Corpus Christi Graduate Studies Program in January 2003. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) cohort included 14 students, while 15 students pursued a Master of Arts Administration (MAA).

All 29 students from the Corpus Christi Graduate Studies Program graduated this past May, overcoming obstacles and professional changes – as well as establishing true friendships – throughout the 15-month program.

The innovative program offered off-site graduate courses for the first time in UIW’s history. Intensive eight-week terms were held five times the first year, with evening classes meeting twice a week on Del Mar College’s East Campus. Del Mar is also home to the university’s off-site undergraduate program, the Adult Degree Completion Program (ADCaP).

For participants, both the ADCaP and graduate programs are ideal environments for working adults juggling a career and family life. “It was challenging, but I learned a lot about myself personally, as well as professionally,” said Monica Rivera, who was part of the MBA cohort. And while some prospective students find the intensity of short semesters to be intimidating, Rivera thinks they actually bring students together. “The brief time-frame requires discipline, but the close-knit relationships forged through the cohort setting motivated us to succeed together,” she said.

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Peace Pole Dedication

The UIW community dedicated a Peace Pole in March on the lawn of the Brackenridge Villa at the university. The community showed their support for the dedication, which was both a call for peace and a tribute to Women’s History Month.

More than 200,000 “peace poles,” monuments with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth," stand in more than 180 countries around the globe. The UIW monument has inscriptions in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Vietnamese, and Swahili.

The UIW Peace Pole was erected in front of the historic home of Eleanor Brackenridge, “Mother of Women’s Suffrage in Texas.” Brackenridge wrote on legal rights for women and also gathered and organized suffragettes in her home.

In addition to the Peace Pole, the students planted an oak tree at the site. Both the peace pole and the tree were dedicated to the memory of Ada Koenig Kirk, an alumna of Incarnate Word.

Kirk, who died in 2003, was an educator and community leader in Cuero. A proponent of peace, she organized more than 100 students and citizens in the first Peace Pole ceremony in rural south Texas in May 1998. Her daughter, Sister Martha Ann Kirk, a professor of religious studies at UIW, coordinated this event.

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Forum Examines Minority Under-Representation in Education

“Under-Represented Groups in Education: Challenges for the 21st Century” was the theme for a new symposium in February.

Among the panelists were Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr., president of the University of the Incarnate Word; Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, president of the University of Texas Health Science Center; and Dr. Angie S. Runnels, president of St. Philip’s College. They shared their presidential perspectives on under-representation of groups in education.

Currently, UIW is composed of 9 percent international students and shares in educational exchange programs with more than 80 universities in more than 30 countries, in addition to operating China Incarnate Word in Guangzhou, China, and Centro Internacional Universitario Miguel Ángel-Incarnate Word in Mexico City.

The panel was part of a two-day forum that included presentations of research conducted by faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. The faculty forum featured presentations that offered the public research and suggestions on how to improve the representation of groups, including Arab-Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, in higher education.

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AVANCE President Speaks at UIW

The Hispanic Latino Association at the University of the Incarnate Word hosted a lecture by Dr. Gloria Rodriguez, CEO and president of the AVANCE program, in the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Library this spring.

Rodriguez’s experience as a first-grade school teacher working with poor Latino children, and her personal family background, both inspired her to work with low-income parents and their children before they entered school.

Rodriguez helps children to keep their hopes and dreams alive by informing their parents with essential information about the importance of education. She is determined to make a difference in the lives of poor Latino children through parenting education and family support.

The internationally known Rodriguez spoke to the students about a family’s role in supporting higher education. Rodriguez has spoken on this topic at venues ranging from ABC Nightly News to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Cutting Edge Fashion Show

More than 600 people attended the 24th Annual Cutting Edge Fiesta Fashion Show in April.

Each year, the graduating students of the UIW fashion program use the show as an opportunity to showcase the work that they have done throughout their years at the university. Professional models are hired to walk the New York-style runway, leading the show to become such a sensation that for the past three years, tickets have been completely sold out.

This year, 14 students designed and showcased their incredible creations. All proceeds raised go toward scholarships.

The fashion department at UIW is considered the best and most comprehensive in all of South Texas. Graduates from the department are currently working in New York and Paris with the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.

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Spring Commencement Honors Graduates, Alumni and Local Leaders

UIW celebrated the graduation of 460 of its students at Spring Commencement, with two ceremonies on May 8 at the Convocation Center.

Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SBC Communications, Inc., delivered the address during the morning ceremony, at which an honorary doctorate was conferred upon him.

Robert Dean Loeffler, chief operating officer of the H.E. Butt Grocery Company, delivered the address for the afternoon ceremony.

UIW presented the 2004 Alumni of Distinction for Professional Achievement Awards to honorees Cinnamon Linda Stouffer, BA '92, and Dr. Joseph Penn, BS '87.

Communication arts professors at UIW remember Stouffer before she became the big CNN Headline news anchor, Linda Stouffer.

“Cinnamon was an excellent student, always interested in how things worked and engaged in making things happen the best they could,” said Valerie Greenberg, assistant professor of communication arts and Stouffer’s former professor.

Stouffer’s tenure with CNN includes coverage of the post-election saga over the presidential ballots in Florida, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the developments of the war in the Middle East. From 1992-1994, she served the San Antonio community as a general assignments reporter for KMOL-TV.

Penn is a graduate of St. Anthony Catholic High School and Incarnate Word. Penn received his medical degree from UT’s Medical Branch in Galveston. He completed a chief residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Brown University.

Penn is currently the director of Psychiatric Services at the Rhode Island Training School.

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Cardinals Unveiled

With fanfare and excitement, the University of the Incarnate Word announced in May that its new mascot would be the Cardinals, in honor of the birds known for a proud crest, black mask and brilliant feathers.

The red-and-black bird, which is indigenous to the San Antonio area, easily rose to the top of the list of potential mascots, earning 30 percent more votes than the next highest candidate: the Saints. It will replace the Crusaders mascot, which had been in place since 1980.

“Of the various finalists, we decided that the Cardinals were the most fitting mascot for the university for several reasons,” said Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr., president of UIW. “Because they’re indigenous to the area, cardinals have been part of the Incarnate Word campus since its founding in 1881. Their rich hues represent our school colors. And as birds, cardinals symbolize an ideal we promote – that through a college education, all of your dreams can take flight.”

More than 4,000 ballots were cast by alumni, students, faculty and staff in the university’s online poll to determine a new mascot. The 46 selections ran the gamut, with nominations for everything from the Angels to the Wolves, from the Fire Ants to the Geckos. The top four vote-getters were Angels, Cardinals, Pumas and Saints.

John B. Lee of the class of 1999, bachelor of arts in history and philosophy and master of arts in communication arts 2002, of Morganfield, Ky., won $100 for suggesting the name of Cardinals. His name was pulled at random from all those who suggested that name.

“I thought about the school’s colors, red and black. I wanted to suggest something that reflected the school’s colors, and was unique in Texas,” Lee said.

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UIW Student Begins Future in Politics

It was in 1982 when Jennifer Ramos first dared to dream of a career in politics.

Back then, Henry Cisneros was running for mayor of San Antonio and the restaurant owned by Ramos’ mother, El Torero Mexican Restaurant, hosted a “tamalada” in support of the future mayor.

“The way he talked to the people was great. He was very personable. And ever since then, I knew that I wanted to serve the public one day just like he did,” Ramos said.

Now a graduate student at the University of the Incarnate Word, Ramos began her political career on June 15, as she was sworn into her first elected office. She was elected with 63 percent of the vote to a six-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Alamo Community College District, where she’ll represent District 3.

Ramos was born and raised on the south side of San Antonio and grew up working with the people of the South Presa community. She is a regular volunteer at the Presa Community Center, where her mother has served, and where she now serves on the Board of Trustees.

Her duties as a member of the ACCD Board of Trustees will include the strategic planning and budgetary responsibilities for all campuses in the district. These tasks include allocating money for facilities, faculty and campus needs.

Ramos hopes to continue her career in local and state politics and views her election to the ACCD board as a step to serving the people in her community. “I wanted to serve the people in my area and represent students and taxpayers in the south and southeast of the city,” Ramos said.

Ramos is currently working on a master of arts in administration in organizational development at UIW. Ramos has been familiar with the Incarnate Word family since 1991, when she was a student at Incarnate Word High School. Ramos also received a bachelor of business administration in marketing from UIW in 2000.

Although serving her community through politics is part of her plan for the future, the 28-year-old has a personal goal to achieve. “My ultimate goal is to be happy wherever life leads me, in both a career and on a personal level,” Ramos said.

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Frost Collection Presented to Dreeben School of Education

The Dreeben School of Education received a gift of books from Dr. Joe Frost that made the Mabee Library the primary research facility for children’s play and play environments.

A dedication and formal opening of the collection was held in April -International Kindergarten Day - in the Special Collections Room at the library.

Kindergarten Day is held every year on April 21 in honor of Friedrich Froebel’s birthday. Froebel is considered to be the founder of kindergarten in the 1830s. Today, his idea about the socialization of children though play is present in kindergarten classrooms all over the world.

Frost, the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin and considered the Father of Children’s Play, presented UIW a sculpture in celebration of children’s play on Feb. 20. It stands in front of the Gorman Building on campus.

Frost spoke shortly after the dedication about his appreciation of the school’s efforts. UIW is currently known throughout the state for its emphasis on children’s play and play environments.

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