The holidays came early for UTRGV sophomore Ashley Garcia, of Brownsville, who captured first place in the annual President’s Holiday Card Contest.

Garcia, 19, a graphic design major, designed the official 2018 UTRGV winter holiday card and earned bragging rights and a $1,000 scholarship.

“It definitely caught me by surprise,” Garcia said.

The inspiration for her card revolved around family holiday traditions – decorating the tree, breaking the piñata, and “eating a whole lot of tamales,” she said. Garcia also included herself in the card, showing her UTRGV pride by wearing the university’s colors and logo.

“I felt that depicting these traditions in the illustration would most closely relate to the traditions we have in the Valley,” she said. “One tradition the majority of the Valley can definitely relate to is spending time with our families during the holidays.”

The contest was an excellent opportunity to showcase her artistic talents, she said.

“I did hesitate to enter for a moment. However, I also thought that I had to try it out in order to find out what happens,” she said. “You never know until you try.”

Her digital illustration was chosen from among 64 submissions. Garcia’s card will be shared with UTRGV faculty and staff, donors, friends of the university and elected officials across the state and country.

The competition was open to all current UTRGV students, and entries were reviewed by a panel of judges selected by the UTRGV Office of the President.

Second- and third-place selections each earned a $500 UTRGV scholarship:

Kathryn Alonso, a senior advertising and public relations major from McAllen, took second place for her illustration, which included iconic buildings on the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses and showed the bond between a mother and daughter.

Jose Suarez, a junior studio art major from Mission, took third place for his illustration of a Vaquero mounted on a horse, admiring a tree decorated with orange holiday lights. The card also included UTRGV and Texas symbols.

The winners will be acknowledged at two President’s Holiday Receptions: Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Edinburg Campus, and Thursday, Dec. 13, at Salon Cassia, Main Building, on the Brownsville Campus.