Mission native and UTRGV junior Alyssa Guajardo has been elected a Texas Civic Ambassador for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

Texas Civic Ambassadors are students who represent universities around Texas and share a common goal of increasing civic engagement in their communities.

Guajardo is studying exercise science with a concentration in physical therapy and a minor in Spanish and statistics. She serves as a senator for The College of Health Affairs, and as chair for the Campus Life and Community Affairs Committee in UTRGV’s Student Government Association. She is a member of the Pre-Physical Therapy Society, Habitat for Humanity, Health & Kinesiology Club, and Astronomy Club, and works on campus as a student mentor, helping motivate, guide and support first-year students at the university.

“I'm very happy to be a Texas Civic Ambassador. Before, I was shy and lacked self-confidence,” she said. “Now, I feel I've been slowly coming out of my shell and have become more confident with public speaking. I’ve gained confidence in my leadership skills.”

Being a Civic Ambassador allows the students to learn from experts and researchers in the fields of leadership development, politics, community engagement, communication and civic life. Ambassadors also are expected to conduct nonpartisan/bipartisan educational outreach activities on campus or in their communities.

According to the Texas Civic Ambassador program, ambassadors receive educational opportunities that deepen their understanding of our democracy and the current state of civic life. They benefit from guidance in developing effective communication and outreach plans and programs, and in hosting dialogues and events. They also benefit from input into research, writing and presentations, as well as learning innovative methods for audience engagement.

Guajardo said she is grateful to be given this opportunity to represent UTRGV.

“It was great meeting people from different universities and sharing our ideas about the projects we will be working on this year, and getting feedback on them,” she said. “This program offers more than 50 professional development training hours over the year, free of charge. I'm always learning new things with these trainings, and they are helping me grow as a leader.”

Guajardo is currently helping start a civic engagement organization at UTRGV, called the “It Takes One Alliance.” It is being created as a nonpartisan effort to increase voter and other forms of civic engagement on campus, and will include political and nonpolitical organizations on campus. And, she is helping launch a Voto Latino chapter on campus.

In the spring 2019, she plans to run the second annual State of the Rio Grande Valley Conference, designed to inform others about becoming more engaged in their communities and knowing their legislative representatives. It also will help with networking, and with internship and career opportunities.

“I'm hoping this conference will continue on for years to come and that it will grow each year and get better and better,” she said. “I'm hoping that students will learn from it and will be inspired to make a difference in their communities.”