Grads headed to Austin pick up UT masks

HARLINGEN – Valley Longhorns!Harlingen school district graduates attending the University of Texas at Austin this fall will wear those eye-catching words on face masks they picked up last week.

“I think it was really a thoughtful idea that they offered us masks,” said Madison Constantine-Castillo, 18, a 2020 graduate of Harlingen School of Health Professions.

Madison, a biology major/pre-med student at UT-Austin, was one of dozens of students who picked up colorful stylized face masks at the HCISD Administration Building. UT alumni handed out the masks at the Admin building and 12 other sites from Brownsville to Rio Grande City.

The Brownsville chapter of the Texas Exes, a UT alumni group, delivered the masks at the HCISD building and other sites of the Lower Valley. The Hidalgo-Starr chapter supplied the gifts at sites in those respective areas.

“We had over 200 students from across the Valley pick up,” said David Garcia, director of the Valley Admissions Center for UT.

“Everything was done with safety protocols in place,” Garcia said. “The volunteers wore masks and gloves and the students just kind of drove up, kind of curbside. We just confirmed their names and high school.

”Garcia said alumni handed out masks not only in front of the HCISD building but also at Bobby Morrow Stadium in San Benito. New UT students also picked up masks in Brownsville, Port Isabel, Los Fresnos and Raymondville, among others.

“The alumni wanted to provide this as a sort of welcoming gift to the university and as a kind of, obviously, something to provide them with some safety when they’re on campus,” Garcia said. “It was also to show their value and their pride when they’re on campus this fall.”

The masks are burnt orange with the UT longhorn logo as well as the words “Valley Longhorns.” The masks also display the words “UT24” in reference to the projected graduation year of new students.

Madison, who has already moved to Austin, appreciate the “curb-side” approach while she was in town for the weekend.

“It was pretty convenient that I could just pick it up in my hometown,” she said.

She thought the title, “Valley Longhorns” was a nice touch.

“Everybody knows where I’m from,” she said.

Harlingen Superintendent Art Cavazos commended the district’s newest graduates for picking up the masks and heading off to UT.

“HCISD is super proud of our students taking this next step in their educational journey,” Cavazos said. “I want to thank the University of Texas and the Lower Valley Texas Exes for taking the time to celebrate and welcome their newest Longhorns.”

twhitehead@valleystar.com