What is a Hispanic? According to Merriam Webster, the definition of Hispanic: is of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent and especially of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin living in the U.S.
My Hispanic Heritage
I grew up in the city of Alice, Texas, located about 100 miles from the Mexican-American border. I was raised using the English language but understood Spanish, as my parents and grandparents were raised bilingually using both Spanish and English.
The majority of the children I attended elementary and secondary school with were Hispanic like me. My freshman year of postsecondary education in Dallas, Texas, was the first time I was introduced to the different origins of Hispanics and other nationalities. This helped me realize and understand that there was more beyond the culture and traditions that I grew up participating in and learning.
For many people of Hispanic descent, the heart and core of their existence, motivation, and drive are “Family”. I have adopted the use of the word “Familia” and use it daily when referring to my beautiful family. To me, the Hispanic culture is about moving forward and raising your family to be productive citizens and future leaders.
My parents, Lupe & Neomi, and my wife, Araceli, have been my largest supporters during my educational journey. My wife and I both have our doctoral degrees. We both work at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK). We instill in our four amazing kiddos, Zachary, Zoey, Zayn, and Zayde that education is important.
Our kiddos get to witness what we do for higher education students from Araceli, as an Academic Advisor, advising education majors to what I do as a university administrator in the academic innovation space changing higher education for all learners.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and all the diverse cultures and traditions, no matter how you identify yourself whether it be “Hispanic”, “Latino”, or “Latinx” remember, “WE” have traditions, voices, and cultures that are woven into the fabric that makes up the United States of America.
Dr. Rolando Rene Garza is currently serving as the Director of the Center for Academic Technology – in the division of Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK). He leads a fantastic team and is honored to work with the “Dream Team,” helping push forward innovation at Javelina Nation. He has a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University, and his degree concentration area is in distance education and instructional technology.
One of Rolando’s most recent accomplishments as Co-Project Investigator of the HEART Project, a $5 million Department of Education Title III HSI STEM Grant that runs 10-01-2021 – 9/30/2026. The grant aims to provide wrap-around student services, augmented by pedagogical training for faculty in High Impact Practices to support Hispanic and low-income students, including transfers in 12 STEM majors where retention rates fell below the pre-COVID Fall 2019 average of 79.1%.
Rolando’s leadership continues at the Texas A&M System; he is on the Council for Academic Technology and Innovative Education (CATIE) Executive committee as Legislative Committee Chair. Rolando also serves at the state level on the Learning Technology Advisory Committee (LTAC) for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
Rolando is a past president (15′ -18′) of the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA). He has served in various leadership roles for TxDLA, including Coastal Bend regional coordinator, scholarship chair, and multiple committees. Rolando is presently serving on the Executive Board of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) as Chair of State Chapters since May 2019.
Rolando has contributed to the culture of change in education, especially in digital learning throughout Texas and across the nation. He resides in Kingsville, Texas, with his beautiful wife, Dr. Araceli Garza, Academic Advisor IV for the Center for Student Success at TAMUK. They both have four beautiful children and are truly blessed every day.Dr. Rolando R. Garza currently serves on the Every Learner Everywhere Equity Advisory Board