Portraits of Philanthropy

Pena Brothers

Jose Gilberto Peña and Alfredo Peña

Dolores Galvan Canales y Nazaria Ochoa Peña Memorial Endowed Scholarship


“I’ll take you,” Gilberto’s father said. He drove his son to a college campus he knew nothing about; but he knew that great opportunities existed for his children beyond the farm fields. And so began an ambitious journey toward success and an opportunity to help others pursue higher education in South Texas.

Gilberto Peña and his younger brother Alfredo Peña attribute their success to their father and grandmothers, who always supported their endeavors to “get ahead” in life. As a migrant family, they worked in the fields every summer. Whether picking cotton in South Texas, peaches in California, or pickles in West Texas, these boys never quite experienced the usual freedoms of summer; the boys and their five siblings always left home June 1 and returned August 25, their father always insisting that they finish the school year and be home to start the regular school year.


If Carol Rausch had one wish for every student at The University of Texas-Pan American it would be for them to travel to another country and experience a whole new world just as she did when she was a college student in New Jersey.

Even though she can't help all 19,000+ University students travel abroad, she is going to make sure a few of them get the opportunity to study abroad with the Carol Rausch International Studies Abroad Endowed Scholarship that she created in the UTPA Foundation after retiring in December 2010 from 25 years of service to UT Pan American.

For Rausch her love of traveling began with a $2,000 loan from her grandmother that opened her eyes to new cultures, ways of thinking and living as a study abroad student from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). "I had this vision that I was not going to stay in New Jersey. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted to learn 32 different languages. I remember thinking those things," she said.


Guiding Stars.HESTEC Pioneer Award recipients 2011In 2004, Carlos T. Ramos Jr. was a Brownsville Rivera High School senior when he came to HESTEC at The University of Texas-Pan American hoping to win the first prize in the robotics competition – a laptop computer.

His team did win the competition that year, successfully programming their Lego robot through a maze. When Ramos returned this year as an invited speaker to HESTEC's opening night Congressional Dinner September 23, he told hundreds of corporate and government sponsors that he won more than a computer that day seven years ago. Read more...

Guiding Stars.Carlos X. GuerraCarlos X. Guerra is a successful cattle rancher and businessman, a dedicated volunteer in his community, a prolific philanthropist and a happy family man. Now he can add "UTPA graduate" to his long list of accomplishments.

During the first of two commencement ceremonies of The University of Texas-Pan American August 20, UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen awarded an unsuspecting and emotional Guerra a bachelor's degree in business administration. Guerra, 59, left then Pan American University in 1974 six hours short of earning his diploma to take care of family and business responsibilities.

Guerra was at the ceremony to serve as a commencement speaker and the President surprised him with the diploma following Guerra's address. Nelsen said the degree was awarded based on Guerra's professional career credits and approved by UT System officials.

"This is not honorary. This is true and this is real," Nelsen said, as he placed a memory stole on Guerra's shoulders and opened the diploma's cover. "Ladies and gentlemen, meet the day's first graduate." Read more...

When New Jersey native Diane Teter is asked what brought her to Texas, her answer is quick and with a smile … "to find me a cowboy." And she did just that – at Baylor University in Waco, where she met tall, handsome Rick Teter, a graduate of Bryan Adams High School in Dallas.

Since graduating from Baylor, Rick with a degree in history and Diane with a double major in biology and English, the Teters have been moving hand-in-hand from one great adventure to another. They’ve operated a cattle ranch in East Texas, been part-owners of a ranch in northern Mexico, and studied nursing together at The University of Texas at Brownsville, where Rick also earned an M.B.A. and Diane an M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis in biology. Read more...

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