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UTEP celebrates the successes of women

Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

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Diana Amaro/The Prospector

Josie Tinajero, dean of education, is just one of the many successful female faculty members at UTEP.

When her husband passed away and her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, Patricia Vega was overwhelmed. The struggle hit her life hard, but she decided to be strong for her family and earn a college degree.


"He (my husband) was talking to me at the hospital. He told me ‘you should start your studies, it's your dream,'" said Vega, who is the undergraduate administrative assistant of the School of Nursing.


March 7 will be the seventh anniversary of her husband's death and hopefully in a year, she will graduate with an associate degree in Business Administration at EPCC.

Women such as Vega, who overcome adversities and continue their way to success will share their experiences at events during the 2010 Women's History Month.


This year's events started Feb. 11 with the screening of the documentary "Congo Teach-In" at the Union Cinema, and will continue until April 12 with a presentation of
Bernadette Calafell, author of the book "Latina/o Communication Studies: Theorizing Performance."


The theme chosen for this year's celebration is Pathways to Success.

"I know that women's work and contributions continues to be devalued, and that we are a culture that still insists on seeing women largely in terms of their bodies," said Lee Ann Westman, chair of the Women's History Month Committee for 2010 and visiting professor for the Women's Studies program.


Female department chairs, deans, representatives of the provost office and UTEP President Diana Natalicio will participate in a series of panels titled "A Pyramid of Professional Development - Stories of Success" on March 10 and 24.


Fernanda Ruiz is a senior psychology major and president of Carita, a student organization at UTEP. When she was a child, she developed scoliosis, which consists of a the deviation of the spinal cord from its original position. She depends on an electrical wheelchair to move from one place to another. Since she was a child, she learned that there is no goal that she cannot accomplish.


"My parents were really firm in getting me involved in society. I have learned to accept myself and never felt different from other people," Ruiz said.

With one semester to go before graduation, Ruiz is already working to reach her new goals as a professional.


"Once I graduate, my plan is to pursue a job as a public speaker. This is because I believe I have lived so many experiences that might help others to see a different perspective of what life is about," Ruiz said.


Students who like sports have found inspiration in women's basketball head coach, Keitha Adams, who has accomplished more than any other women's basketball coach at UTEP. Adams was named the 2008 Conference USA Coach of the Year and was also a national coach of the year finalist that season. She has helped guide the Miners to a school-record three straight winning seasons.


"Keitha is a class act person who has a strong work ethic and strong character. She is not just a basketball coach to her players, but is also a teacher and mentor," said Lisa Campos, associate director of intercollegate athletics.


Because of her contribution to the community, Adams has been nominated to be part of the Hall of Fame of El Paso Commission for Women, a non-profit organization that recognizes El Paso women's diversity.


Several conferences, panels and films are some of the events planned to celebrate Women's History Month. For more information, contact the Women's Studies Program at 747-5200 or visit the Women's Studies Office located in the Liberal Arts Building Room 233.


"The contributions of women were so widely recognized and valued that we did not have to commit a specific month to highlighting them," Westman said.


Nicole Chávez may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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