Skip to Content

MASA and CMAS Honor Vickie De La Rosa’s Legacy

On March 7, members of MASA (Mexican-American Students Association), CMAS (Center for Mexican-American Studies), and guests gathered to honor and celebrate the life and contributions of Vickie De La Rosa. The celebration was part of Una Serie de las Poderosas—a series of powerful women.

Vickie De La Rosa, who passed away last April, was certainly deserving of the honor. She was a pillar of the local community and a co-founder of Teatro De Artes De Juan Seguin, a non-profit cultural arts organization which is a revered in Seguin. She was also a professor in the mathematics department at TLU.

The event, which spilled out of Langner Hall’s Center for Mexican American Studies into the parking lot, was a great success. “We wanted to replicate how a lot of us grew up—with a barbecue in the front yard,” says César Silva, Assistant Professor for Mexican American Studies and the Director of CMAS at TLU. The celebration drew quite a crowd—including De La Rosa’s family. Her grandchildren made a special presentation in her honor. “It was very much a success because they were happy,” says Silva.

One special gift of the evening: the unveiling of a portrait of De La Rosa which was donated by local artist Jeremiah Camacho—a labor of love that took over 70 hours to complete. Silva says that one day, the walls of the Center for Mexican American Studies will be covered with such portraits—telling the stories and honoring the people who have given so much to the Latinx community.

But there’s more to this story than a single event. MASA and CMAS have a whole slew of events on tap—events that will be repeated year after year, becoming longstanding traditions at TLU. In April alone, there will be a live graffiti street art day, the unveiling of a mural on the outer wall of Schuech Fine Arts Center, and a Cumbia Under the Stars event, slated to include live music, food, and an auction.

“We truly believe that engaging our students helps with retention rates,” says Silva. “That’s really our goal.” And Silva knows a thing or two about engagement. “My background is in political science, and the study of what impacts civic engagement.” Engaging students—and specifically students within the Latinx community whose retention rates tend to be lower—means reaching the whole family. “The family is invested in everything we do,” says Silva. “So it’s not just the kids coming here. It’s all of them.” He jokes that an added advantage of getting to know not only the students, but also their parents and grandparents, makes it easier to ensure that classes are attended and assignments turned in. “I do threaten them,” he says with a laugh. “I can call their grandparents.”

So events like Una Serie de las Poderosas lead to engagement. Engagement leads to investment. And investment leads to retention. And that, of course, leads to breaking old cycles, and to better quality of life.

Looking ahead, Silva says that he and his students will be hosting everything from fun runs to car shows to music events. And in the process, a whole community is formed—a new family of sorts—whose members lift one another up and walk together toward a better life for everyone. Silva couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities. He’s up for it all, and smiles as he says, “We’re just getting started.”