Milly Lopez came to UT Austin by way of the South Texas town of San Benito. A proud member of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) community, she now leads the newly created RGV Familia program that provides holistic support for students and their families. The program’s many offerings include personal and professional development resources, networking opportunities, festive events and more.
We caught up with Lopez, who also serves as the DDCE’s director of institutional partnerships, to learn more about her good work with the program—and how she’s making the university a more inclusive, welcoming place for students from the RGV.
Could you please briefly describe your role in supporting students in RGV Familia?
As director of RGV Familia, I manage the programmatic support DDCE provides for the students, and I also support the efforts of the student org. In addition, I also supervise three ULN interns who work on the program and are officers in the student org.
What are you looking forward to the most this fall when the students return to campus?
Having in-person events with food! Food is a big part of Rio Grande Valley culture; it’s what our students miss most when they move to Austin. Finding restaurants that cook Valley style here in Austin is hard, so I’m excited to be able to share with them the foods Austin has offer as well as bring in some Delia’s tamales from the RGV!
Does RGV Familia have any new developments since the pandemic?
RGV Familia started during the pandemic. Starting a program during quarantine with only virtual connections was challenging. But since then, we’ve grown our membership and outreach, and we’re excited to continue growing this year.
How is RGV welcoming students to campus at the start of the fall semester?
Our first on-campus event is our Welcome Fiesta happening on September 16 at 6 p.m.in the William C. Powers Building (WCP), room 2.120. We’ll have biweekly events and programming after that.
What message would you like to extend to our new and returning Longhorns?
You belong here. You worked hard to earn your spot at UT through your perseverance and resilience. The university needs you here, and RGV Familia wants to help you along the way. We’re your home away from home and can’t wait to meet you!
What is the best piece of advice you would like to give to our incoming students?
Nothing worth having is ever easy—so chin up and keep going but remember to take care of yourself. It’s OK to step back and not be ever-present. Asking for help can be difficult, but we are here to help you navigate.
How can students best contact you and/or your team?