The RGV Familia leadership team includes UT staff, ULN interns and student officers.
Hi y’all! My name is Milly Lopez and I am Director of RGV Familia, and also Director of Institutional Partnerships for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. I’m from San Benito, Texas, hometown of the legendary Freddy Fender! Moving to Central Texas was difficult. I came from a small town where most people looked like me, to a large urban city where I was the minority. As a first-gen college student who rarely left the Valley before moving away from it, this was a constant challenge for me. And it’s what inspired me to pursue a career in higher education administration. I visit the RGV often; it’s home, it’s what gives me my strength. And that’s what RGV Familia is for our students; we’re home away from home. Hook ‘em!
Hello, my name is Veronica Pecero and I am Associate Director for Access and Inclusion in the Office of Admissions. I am a first-generation graduate and proud Texas Ex! Through my work in admissions, I have had the privilege of frequently visiting the Rio Grande Valley to host events throughout the region for prospective and admitted RGV students. The RGV has become one of my favorite places to visit because of the wonderful students and families I have met and the sense of familia I always feel when I am there. I am excited to be part of this new initiative to continue to recruit and support our Valley students. Hook ‘em!
Hello! My name is David Garcia and I am the Director of The University of Texas at Austin Valley Admissions Center. For over 10 years I have worked to recruit amazing students from the Rio Grande Valley to UT Austin. Through my work in Admissions, I have witnessed countless Valley students attend UT Austin and accomplish their goals while representing the Valley with pride! I know how special the Rio Grande Valley is and I am honored to be a part of the RGV Familia initiative and not just assist RGV students achieve their goal of attending UT Austin but also thrive as a student on our amazing campus!
Hello Everyone, my name is Bella Vargas, I am the Co-President of the RGV Familia and also ULN Intern for the program. I am a third-year student from Los Fresnos majoring in Communication and Leadership at the Moody College of Communication, with a minor is Social Work. Coming to UT as a freshman, I was terrified living in a “big city” on my own away from all my friends and family. But moving to Austin was the right choice for my education. The knowledge and experience of the diversity from the university is key to any career path that will enable us to network and secure a successful job. Textbook knowledge is not sufficient, students crave the life experiences away from home. At times we miss home, and the RGV Familia is the perfect home away from home where you can always turn for comfort. As a student, you will learn to gain appreciation of the diversity from our university while having a large support system of students from the Rio Grande Valley.
Hi everyone! My name is Rosie Garza, I am Co-President of RGV Familia and also ULN Intern for the program. I am so excited to meet you all! I’m a second-year student from Weslaco, majoring in Human Development and Family Science, and I’m also Pre-PA. UT is a big campus and it’s easy to feel small, but with RGV Familia I’ve been able to find friends who have become family. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who understand you and probably grew up the same way you did. When I came to UT I didn’t think I’d find many Valley people. I figured I was probably one of the few Valley kids but I was wrong. Through RGV Familia we hope to give you a space where you can be yourself and feel like you’re back home. We are here for you and want to empower you through your college journey. Never feel like you don’t belong at UT, because you do! There’s a strong community of Rio Grande Valley students who are rooting for you in the RGV Familia!
Hi everyone! My name is Mayeli S. Luna, RGV Familia’s Vice President. I am a third-year Pre-Med student from Brownsville majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences, with certificates in Business Spanish, Spanish for Medical Professions, and Pre-Health Professions. As a FGLI student, coming to UT was a whole new experience for my family and I. The change of environment from the Valley’s small cities, to a bigger city such as Austin was a bit overwhelming at first. Nevertheless, I was able to find my community and have obtained many opportunities by being involved in different organizations. I love Austin, but I sometimes find myself missing the culture of the Valley. That is why RGV Familia wants to ensure that incoming and current UT students from the Valley have a place where they can feel they have a “home away from home”.
Hi! My name is Liliana Lopez and I am the program recruitment chair. I am a third-year Master in Professional Accounting (iMPA) student from Brownsville. The transition from high school to college was a difficult one for me because the RGV is a bubble, where I was surrounded by my family, culture, and a sense of belonging that many minorities do not experience in the United States. UT Austin is a city within a city, and it can be overwhelming at first, especially for first-generation students. RGV Familia is a “home away from home” that fosters a sense of belonging and helps us navigate our college career to become successful, well-adjusted individuals.
Hi there, my name is Natalie Briceno and I am the Program Experience Officer. I’m from Rio Grande City, TX and I’m a first-generation, second-year Art and Entertainment Technologies student with a certificate in Elements of Computing. For me, coming to UT was super exciting. I had never lived in a city like Austin before. At this school, I had so many opportunities to meet new people, make new friends, and learn new things. The person I am now is the person I grew into with my experiences at UT. Had I stayed in the Valley- in my comfort zone- my freshman year of school would have gone very differently and I don’t believe that I would be the person that I am today. For this reason, I want others with backgrounds similar to mine to come to UT and explore Austin. RGV Familia will make a home for students from the Valley to feel loved, welcomed, and understood.
Hi! I’m Alfredo Huitron and I’m the Partner Liaison for RGV Familia. I am a third-year Advertising major with a certificate in Elements of Computing. I moved to Austin as the only student from my graduating class in Lasara, Texas and the transition from a tiny town to Austin was overwhelming, to say the least. However, I’ve grown to love my UT community and hope to share my experiences with other RGV students! Feel free to reach out any time to chat!
Hi y’all! My name is Janet Rasmussen and I am the RGV Familia Finance Chair. I am from San Benito, Texas. I currently work as a Student Assistant at the Harry Ransom Center, and am studying Art History with a minor in Arts Management and Administration. I’m a member of the University Leadership Network (ULN) and the Gateway Scholars Program. Living in such a connected community, it’s important to know where your roots are and to be with likeminded people. RGV Familia can provide that for students to have a friendly reminder of home!! The first year at UT I was terrified, I ‘m glad I found my community at school!
Hi everyone! My name is Valeria Riveron and I am RGV Familia Communications Chair. I am a third-year student majoring in Psychology with an Educational Psych minor, and I’m also Pre-Law. Being the only person in a very small high school class coming to UT, I was excited but at the same time extremely nervous for such a big change in environment. Though it was overwhelming in the beginning, I have met amazing individuals and become involved in organizations on campus as well as with the Austin community. Still, it was somewhat hard finding people from the Valley with similar experiences. The last thing I want is to miss or forget the culture of the Valley we all know and love. RGV Familia is the place I am able to feel that close-knit community and feel completely understood, and I am so glad I have found home away from home!
Hi, y’all! My name is Natalie Rincones and I am a second-year Political Communications student from Brownsville, TX. In addition to being RGV Familia’s Digital Media Chair, I am also the Graphic Design chair for Hook the Vote, a non-partisan civic engagement agency within UT’s Student Government, and a Resident Assistant on campus. Leaving the Rio Grande Valley has given me so many opportunities and though I am grateful to be getting an education at such a great university, I still miss home. RGV Familia has built an environment for people like me who seek valley communities here in Austin!