Fine Arts Faculty and Alumni lead outreach efforts for Rio Grande Valley high school students

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rio Grande Valley OutreachRepresentatives from all three of the College of Fine Arts’ academic units traveled to the Rio Grande Valley in October to collaborate with high schools and programs to encourage more students to pursue higher education in the Fine Arts. 

“Outreach, advocacy and local community partnership are guiding our efforts to inspire more young artists in the Rio Grande Valley to aspire to pursue their creative talents as a career and for that journey to continue at a university,” said Karoline Liu, Director of Recruitment and Admissions in the College of Fine Arts. 

Butler School of Music Director of Bands Jerry Junkin offered a clinic for the top wind ensemble at Harlingen High School, under the direction of Ronnie Rios. Professor of Voice Darlene Wiley offered a master class on opera technique to students at Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South. 

“The experience last week was most heartening,” said Wiley. “Just when I lose sleep about the future of classical music, I am stunned by the talent I find throughout the state.  Both Harlingen and Harlingen South have two of the best choir programs in the state.”

That same week in Brownsville, Texas, Ted Estrada (B.F.A., Art Education, 1981) collaborated with the Department of Art and Art History to host the Rio Grande Valley Portfolio Day. Students from area high schools spanning from McAllen to Brownsville received portfolio feedback and application advice from arts faculty from UT Austin, UT Rio Grande Valley and Texas Tech. Local community organizations also attended to offer internships and other resume-building opportunities. 

And for the second consecutive year, the Department of Theatre and Dance has partnered with the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD to host the South Texas Theatre Auditions, which gave seniors an opportunity to audition locally for prestigious theatre programs from across the nation. To prep students for their audition day in November, Eric Vera (B.F.A., Theatre Studies, 2008), the artistic director at The Camille Playhouse, taught an auditioning master class. Jaclyn Benavidez (B.A. Theatre and Dance, 2012) also helped organize the workshop. UT acting faculty Jeremy Cudd and Robert Ramirez will be offering similar workshops in Edinburg and Rio Grande City. 

The college’s collective efforts reached close to 1,000 students at more than than 30 high schools across the Rio Grande Valley.

Photo by Sem Vargas.