Verónica Méndez-Maqueo Named Dean of Sul Ross Rio Grande College

Dr. Verónica Méndez-Maqueo

By Laura Nelson

Uvalde—Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College welcomes Verónica Méndez-Maqueo who has joined RGC as Dean.

Dr. Méndez, a native of Mexico City, comes to RGC from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison where she served as the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Director of the Spanish program. She was there 10 years where she helped grow enrollment and expand the Spanish program. RGC suits her well since she wanted to serve a larger Hispanic population. Méndez also prefers the south Texas weather and likes living in a rural area not far from a large city.

In her new role, she will oversee academic administration including programs, faculty, planning and budgeting. She said, “When I visited RGC during my interview, I was impressed by the committed, experienced faculty. I feel the potential for them is huge, especially if we continue to collaborate across departments. I look forward to working together to advance education and increase student satisfaction.”

Growing up the fifth child of six, she was curious about language—the meaning of words, the way they sound. Always an active reader, she knew language and literature studies fit her even though her uncle expressed disappointment in her choice. He told her she was smart enough to be an attorney or a medical doctor and predicted she would starve. She said, “I may starve, but I’ll be happy.” Her mother was a university professor in linguistics, her dad an engineer and five siblings represent a variety of occupations including an elementary school teacher, an actor, an accountant, business, and biology.

Describing herself as “adventurous and never afraid,” Méndez, then 10-years old, moved to Stillwater, Minn. for one year after her older siblings declined the generous offer proposed by a family friend. She describes the immersive experience as magical, from the multi-colored frosting on doughnuts, to all aspects of snowfall, to participating in activities at the lake. Years later, while working on her Ph.D. in Mexico, she won a scholarship to study North American literature during a 10-week program based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. One of only 18 students from around the world, she was exposed to key cultural concepts. The top notch professors leading the course encouraged the students to consider their futures and raised the idea that they might come to the U.S.A., a notion that Verónica Méndez never forgot.

Dr. Méndez will be looking for ways to contribute in her community. In Gunnison, she served as a bridge between the Hispanics and others in the community and helped establish a free summer lunch program for children that serves about 70 per day and is funded by donors.

She and her daughter, Emilia, have moved to Uvalde and Emilia will join the sophomore class at Uvalde High School. Please join Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College in welcoming the new family!