Dr. Roland Arriola named Leader in Education


Mercedes Chamber Recognizes Dr. Roland Arriola
As Leader in Education at Annual Awards Banquet

By Raul Garcia Jr.

The Texas Valley Communities Foundation President Dr. Roland Arriola added another award to his long list of accomplishments and well-deserved accolades. Mercedes leaders honored Dr. Arriola with the Leader in Education Award for his college and career readiness programs that are being used by school districts throughout the valley and for bringing recognition to the City of Mercedes as an educational hub.

“I am fortunate to lead a great organization and to receive credit for the accomplishments of my administrative colleagues and staff,” Dr. Arriola said. “I am humbled to be singled out for this award at this very special time in the history of Mercedes. So many people are working hard to generate so much momentum for this community.”

Dr. Arriola’s leadership and vision in education has added extra educational value to the Queen City. He established the Texas Graduate Center that provides graduate level distance learning education in partnership with Harvard University. Twenty-four math teachers from the Rio Grande Valley are currently enrolled in the program with eight teachers set to graduate from Harvard with a Masters in Math for Teaching degree in 2016. The program is transforming the way mathematics is being taught to students all over the Valley.

“One of the reasons we recognized Dr. Arriola was to congratulate him for all the great educational courses and programs that start in Mercedes and are shared in the RIo Grande Valley,” said Fred Gonzalez, Chamber chairperson and master of ceremonies. “ The work that Dr. Arriola does based out of Mercedes is just incredible.”

DR.ROLAND_ARRIOLA1The Mercedes Chamber of Commerce held its annual year in review banquet and chamber awards to showcase it’s accomplishments and honor it’s community leaders on February 24 at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show grounds. Keynote speaker was Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Inaugural Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President of Medical Affairs for UTRGV.

Other award recipients included: Professor Rolando Hinojosa Smith for Contribution to the Arts; Alonso Calvillo for Civic Leadership; Coach Javier Flores for Lifetime Service; Dr. Beatrice Leon Edwards for Woman of the Year; Alfredo Hinojosa for Man of the Year; Texas State Bank for Business of the Year; Chamber Director of the Year – Sylvia Carlin; Chamber President’s Award – Fred Gonzalez.

“Mercedes in on a path to generate substantial economic development, to become an educational hub, to create additional recreational opportunities, and to enhance the quality of life for all its residents,” Dr. Arriola said.

With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dr. Arriola created the ENCORE program to promote college and career readiness to students in the Rio Grande Valley with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This program assists local school districts and helps to encourages students to pursue careers in technology and the sciences.

In 2014 Dr. Arriola created the Parent Academy for Success of Schools (PASOS) program to teach parents how to guide their children through school and prepare them to succeed in college. Parents that complete the program take part in a traditional graduation ceremony that helps to inspire their children to continue and succeed in school.

To stay on pace with SpaceX and University of Texas-RGV Medical School Dr. Arriola and his team at the Texas Valley Communities Foundation are teaching students at local school districts concepts in Aerospace Engineering and Medicine during their daily school schedule, after school and on weekends.

His most recent innovative program that is being taught to students in Brownsville is called Space K-12. It introduces students to engineering, robotics and rocketry concepts. With the coming launch of SpaceX rockets from Boca Chica beach, Dr. Arriola and his team are working with local school districts to help prepare future aerospace engineers and scientists.

Dr. Arriola also developed the Medical Innovation Technology Center, MEDITEC. This program takes robotic human patient simulators to the classrooms of the Rio Grande Valley to introduce the basics of medical and healthcare practice to area students. The simulators engage the interest of the students via over one hundred medical scenarios that introduce them to the healthcare professions.

The Texas Valley Communities Foundation (TVCOF) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2003. It is designed to empower and transform the community through education and innovation. Dr. Arriola retired from UTPA as the Vice President for External Affairs in 2008. He continued his work in education through TVCOF. In 2012, Dr. Arriola moved his team to Mercedes from their offices in Edinburg to be centrally located in Rio Grande Valley. Today, he and his team take their innovative educational tool sets and strategies to schools in Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr county all year round.

Past accomplishments for Dr. Arriola include being the first Hispanic mayor of Waco; President Barack Obama honored him at the WhIte House as a Champion of Change in 2011; President George Bush recognized him as a White House fellowship honoree in 1996, and in 1982 Mexico President Jose Portillo awarded him with the President’s medal for his service to humanity, the highest award given to a non- citizen. He has also been named one of the top fifty most important Hispanics in business and technology for his leadership in collaborating with Congressman Ruben Hinojosa to create the Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology (HESTEC) event at UTPA.

“I have witnessed first-hand the energy, the time, and the resources being quietly but effectively contributed by members of the community to make Mercedes better,” Dr. Arriola said. “I can think of no similar period where enlightened leadership exists in so many organizations that are critical to the success of Mercedes: The Chamber of Commerce, the City Council, the Development Corporation of Mercedes, the Mercedes School District, and other elements of the banking and business community.”

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