About Us

The RGV Familia leadership team includes UT staff, ULN interns and student officers.

Milly Lopez

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!

Veronica Pecero

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!

David Garcia headshot

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! 

Rosie Garza

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 third-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!

Valeria Riveron

Hi everyone! My name is Valeria Riveron and I am RGV Familia Co-President. I am a senior 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!

Karen Lopez, Vice President

Hi everyone! I am Karen Lopez and I am Vice President of RGV Familia. I am from Weslaco, TX and I am a junior. I am a Business student with a major in Accounting and a minor in Management Information Systems. I am so excited to meet y’all! I hope you are able to find a home and friendships within RGV Familia as I have. Coming from a small town has been quite a nerve-racking and overwhelming transition. However, becoming involved in organizations such as RGV Familia has definitely helped. I have been able to embrace my culture and share my RGV background at UT along with other RGV Familia members. I hope you are able to do the same and find your close-knit community by joining RGV Familia. RGV Familia is here for you!

Kevin Barajas, Finance Chair

Hello there! I’m Kevin Barajas, Finance Chair for RGV Familia. I was born and raised in Brownsville and am currently a senior double majoring in Government and History. I also serve on the board of the Austin Young Democrats and work for local queer nonprofit Embrace Austin. I’d like to first and foremost be a friend, but I’m also here to be a resource and mentor for whoever needs one. If there’s one thing that I’m passionate about, it’s community. I’ve been active in my communities for a long time now, from back down in the Valley to up here in Austin, and I quickly learned how difficult it can be to start a new life in a completely different city. One of the biggest helps I had was the friendships I made through student orgs. RGV Familia is a great organization to help students connect with folks from similar backgrounds, find that sense of community, and settle into their newfound home. We’re here to welcome you with open arms!

Hayley Baker headshot

Hi! My name is Hayley Baker, the communications chair for RGV Familia. I am from Brownsville, Texas, and a second-year psychology student in the Liberal Arts Honors program. My graduating class had very few people planning to attend UT, and with the pandemic, I found myself starting this new journey alone. I moved to Austin not knowing anyone or anything. It was hard to make friends and find a place I can call home. When I joined RGV Familia, I felt welcomed and met many other students that come from the Valley and have the same experiences as me. I’m learning to embrace my culture and background in this great organization! My goal is to help other Valley students feel like they have that place that’s a home away from home. I am always available as your mentor, friend, and familia. Can’t wait to meet y’all! Hook ‘em!

Abigail Castro, Recruitment Chair

Hi! My name is Abigail Castro and I am Recruitment Chair for RGV Familia! I am excited for the opportunity to help grow our familia! I am from Brownsville, TX and am a sophomore majoring in Finance at McCombs. In the fall, I am most excited about meeting everyone and hopefully having my first ‘normal’ year at UT. Transitioning into such a large university is definitely scary and the courses at UT are challenging in every way, so my best advice is to establish a group of friends that will be able to help you through this journey. I was lucky enough to find two of my closest friends at UT through RGV Familia and together we were able to help each other with our courses, and life in general. I know that through RGV Familia everyone will be able to form lifelong friendships and find a community that will make you feel closer to home. RGV Familia is home away from home. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Rodrigo Moran, Partner Liaison

Hey y’all! I’m Rodrigo Moran from Mission, TX and I’m the Partner Liaison for RGV Familia. I am a second-year Economics major at the College of Liberal Arts, with a business minor. While being able to attend UT and experience everything Austin has to offer is tremendous, being away from my family and the community that cultivated my passions has been hard. Thankfully the tight-knit environment fostered by RGV Familia has been a wonderful cure to the homesickness I encountered. I’d urge any student to become part of this Familia and meet all our wonderful members. If y’all ever see me just mention food and prepare for an hour-long conversation.

Kiara Vasquez, Digital Media Chair

Hey everyone! My name is Kiara Vasquez and I am the digital media chair for RGV Familia. I come from Hidalgo, TX and I am a sophomore pursuing a degree in Radio-Television-Film at Moody College. This year I am thrilled to be able to connect with everyone in-person/virtually, and get to connect with the familia. I am also pleased to be part of the RGV Familia. This community really is able to represent the the Valley and doesn’t fail to provide that sense of “home away from home.” Being in RGV Familia has not only provided me a sense of community within UT but it has also connected me to new individuals with their events. I recommend anyone who is interested in RGV Familia to follow our socials @rgvfamiliaut to keep track of our future events and learn more about the familia. We will always welcome you!

Valeria Hernandez, Program Experiance Chair

Hi everyone! My name is Valeria Hernandez and I am a ULN intern and Program Experience Chair for RGV Familia. I was so honored to be elected to this position, I first came to RGV Familia as a ULN Intern and now I am an officer. It’s so amazing to be part of such an amazing, caring, and open organization! I am in my third year here at UT, and sometimes it can be hard to find people that have shared the same experiences, but being in RGV Familia has really helped me meet people that have the same background as me. Although I’m not originally from the Valley, this organization has accepted me, and I am so grateful and excited to work with you all. UT is a big school and it can be hard to navigate, so being part of an organization such as RGV Familia can help you find your familia in Austin. I’m so excited to meet everyone this year, HOOK-EM!

Palm trees on resaca in Rio Grande Valley

Ready to join RGV Familia? Contact us at rgvfamilia@utexas.edu.

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Latina graduate with her family at Latinx Graduation