FEATURED: Dr. Manish Singh, MD, Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health System. On Friday, September 29, 2023, through a video presentation before an estimated 2,000 attendees of the Fall Convocation of South Texas College, Singh extended DHR Health’s “heartfelt congratulations to South Texas College on their remarkable 30 years of excellence in the community.” This image was taken at DHR Health in Edinburg on Saturday, April 29, 2023.
Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH FACEBOOK
DHR Health’s CEO Singh, Sen. Hinojosa, and McAllen Mayor Villalobos praise South Texas College on the 30th anniversary of its creation
Dr. Manish Singh, MD, Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health System, knows much about the critical importance of high-quality health care for any region, especially for the Rio Grande Valley, a rapidly-growing population center with almost 1.4 million residents.
As the administrative leader of the Edinburg-based complex, Singh has long-standing involvement in helping DHR (Doctors Hospital at Renaissance) Health provide life-saving care, heal injuries, cure and prevent diseases, improve health and well-being – and, as a teaching hospital – deliver medical education and training to future and current health professionals.
“Just like DHR Health, STC has been a driving force for positive change in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Singh, who is board certified in general surgery and specialized in advanced laparoscope and bariatric surgery. “Congratulations (to South Texas College) on this milestone.”
DHR Health is a health system that operates two general acute hospitals, the only dedicated women’s hospital south of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, and more than 70 clinics Valley-wide.
DHR Health offers the most comprehensive and advanced healthcare services in the Rio Grande Valley including – but not limited to – advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley, and as of September 8, 2021, the first 24/7 Designated Level One Trauma Center south of San Antonio.
Singh, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos on Friday, September 30, 2023 were among numerous area leaders who praised South Texas College as part of its Fall Convocation, which celebrated its 30th anniversary of its creation.
The event, held at the McAllen Convention Center, is available online at:
A convocation is a group of people formally assembled for a special purpose, mostly ecclesiastical or academic. In academic use, it can refer variously to a gathering of all of an institution’s alumni, to a ceremony at the start of the academic year to welcome incoming students, and to a graduation ceremony.
Singh – through a video message to the estimated 2,000 attendees at the large gathering – on behalf of DHR Health extended “our heartfelt congratulations to South Texas College on their remarkable 30 years of excellence in the community.
“Most recently, we partnered with STC on a unique nurse apprenticeship program. This program will allow STC students to get paid to work in their field at DHR Health while they continue to do their studies and help alleviate the nursing shortage,” Singh continued. “Alongside STC, we are also proud to be the first in the nation in this unique partnership.”
Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has a long history with South Texas College, going back to when the legislation to create the two-county higher education system was first introduced 30 years ago, and securing state financial and educational support for it, first as a state representative and since then as a state senator.
“I was honored to join South Texas College Board Chair Rose Benavides, STC President Dr. Ricardo Solis, current and former board trustees, public officials, and community leaders at the STC convocation to commemorate their 30th anniversary,” Hinojosa said. “It feels like just yesterday that this incredible institution was established. In three decades, they have experienced so much growth and have helped transform the Rio Grande Valley.”
Although South Texas College has campuses in both Hidalgo and Starr counties, its initial presence 30 years ago, and still its main presence today, remain in McAllen.
McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos emphasized the value of South Texas College to his hometown and the entire Rio Grande Valley, given credit to it as a leading institution of higher education.
“We are proud of McAllen’s graduates who have elevated our community thanks to the knowledge and skills they learned here at STC,” he said. “Since 1993, STC has become highly-recognized for its innovative approaches and education in supply our South Texas communities with skilled, passionate professionals.”
One of the many professions being helped by South Texas College are health-related.
South Texas College’s nursing program is already the number one producer of nurses among community colleges across the state and the number two producer of nurses among universities.
South Texas College – which has the largest student enrollment among higher education institutions in the Rio Grande Valley – includes it’s College Division of Nursing and Allied Health, which is a learner centered division committed to the education of health care professionals.
South Texas College’s Nursing and Allied Health programs combine the highest quality instruction with clinical experience in both hospital and community settings.
DHR Health, South Texas College achieve historic first in the nation with paid apprenticeship program in nursing
On Monday, July 31, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission, recently announced that South Texas College is the first in the nation to be approved to implement a newly formed Registered Apprenticeship Program in the occupation of Registered Nurse.
Through this nursing apprenticeship program, students pursuing an associate degree in nursing will have access to paid training through South Texas College’s partnerships with numerous local hospitals, the first apprenticeship employer being DHR Health.
DHR was the only health care provider to sign the Employer Acceptance Agreement within the tight deadline South Texas College had to submit the application to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Through our partnership with STC, we are creating a Registered Nurse Apprenticeship Program that bridges the gap between education and real-work experience. DHR Health believes that investing in the next generation of healthcare professionals is our responsibility,” Singh said. “As the sole health system in the country collaborating to offer such an educational opportunity, together with STC, we will provide nursing students hands-on training, job placement and guidance from our experienced health care team. The nursing students will complete the program ready to deliver exceptional nursing care to the community we serve.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
• Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions. RN’s work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities. Others work in outpatient clinics and schools;
• Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed; and
• The median annual wage for registered nurses was $81,220 in May 2022.
Set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor, STC registered nursing students will not be paid less than $14 an hour, with incremental increases every semester. In addition, students will also have access to grants that will cover tuition and offset other costs and expenses
DHR was the only health care provider to sign the Employer Acceptance Agreement within the tight deadline STC had to submit the application to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Overall, the nurse apprenticeship program will produce a highly-skilled workforce, reduce turnover and increase productivity, according to Julián Álvarez, Vice President and Director of Business Development for Lone Star National Bank, who spearheaded the creation of this program, called it a game-changer.
“Knowing this will soon be a national model, makes this one of our greatest accomplishments ever experienced,” said Álvarez, a former Commissioner Representing Labor with the Texas Workforce Commission. “I can’t stress the importance of education enough. And I’m excited that this is starting at STC, in my hometown of the Rio Grande Valley. Our students don’t have to think twice about getting an education.”
New South Texas College logo, cutting-edge new courses revealed
During the college’s annual Fall Convocation at the McAllen Convention Center, community leaders and college faculty and staff, South Texas College officials revealed its new logo inspired by the rosette on a jaguar’s pelt. The jaguar is the college’s mascot.
The logo was designed to be timeless, sophisticated and built on a foundation of strength and community and is destined to instill pride in past, current and future students.
It took research, branding workshops and focus groups led by the college’s Public Relations and Marketing department to get to a final logo that would represent STC and take it into the future.
The vision to rebrand STC began a couple of years ago, upon the new leadership of STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. His overarching goal beyond the basis of providing a high-quality, affordable education, is to elevate the image of the college – let the community know about the many benefits a community college has for the region and about the lives it impacts.
“STC has been serving the communities of Hidalgo and Starr Counties for 30 years, and throughout this time, STC has grown exponentially, giving us the idea that it was time for a more ‘grown-up’ look,” said Solis. “We didn’t go into a rebranding lightly though and we never wanted to erase tradition, so I feel our new logo ties our past, present and future together very well, giving us room to be bold, transformative and innovative.”
Earlier this year, South Texas College introduced its new colors of navy blue and gold and gave its jaguar a facelift with a more geometric shape, all part of the first phase of the rebranding.
“STC has a long history in our community. I was a little girl when my late father Manuel Benavidez Jr., a founding STC trustee, would travel across our community of Starr County advocating for the creation of the college. I always joined him,” said Rose Benavidez. “So, to see how STC has grown and will continue to grow is an honor I don’t take for granted. We have gone from laundromats and old libraries to state-of-the-art facilities and this historic milestone is going to propel us into the next three decades. We may have a different look, but we are the same STC – providing a high-quality, affordable education.”
South Texas College was established in September 1993 as South Texas Community College, or STCC, through Senate Bill 251 authored by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, sponsored by Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen, and signed into legislation by Texas Gov. Ann Richards.
As the author, Lucio is the legislator who filed Senate Bill 251 in the Senate and guided it through the legislative process (also called the primary author).
Filed is used to refer to a measure that has been introduced into the legislative process and given a number.
As sponsor, Gutierrezcarried Lucio’s Senate Bill 251 through the House of Representatives.
The college opened its doors with no more than 1,500 students and today, it serves nearly 50,000 credit and non-credit students from across the Rio Grande Valley.
Leading the state, as one of the youngest, yet one of the fastest growing community colleges in Texas, South Texas College offers nearly 130 certificate and degree programs, including GED, short-term programs, continuing education and workforce development.
South Texas College is also the only community college in Texas to offer five bachelor’s degree programs.
Breaking barriers, creating a college-going culture for all
“At STC, we are breaking barriers and creating a college-going culture for all,” said Solis. “We are taking our programs to new heights and listening to the needs of our industry partners so that all our students have the skills they need to enter high-wage careers. Many of our programs are modeled nationally and are leading the way in higher education.”
South Texas College is also a national model for its dual credit programs, giving students the opportunity to graduate with a college certificate or degree before even graduating from high school and saving Valley families at least $340 million in tuition since its inception in 2000.
“These last 30 years for STC have been instrumental to our communities and neighbors across the border, but I would be remised if I didn’t acknowledge the leadership that came before us, that helped set the foundation for STC,” said Solis. “They had a vision for STC and what it would mean to our community, and we are thankful for their initiative and tenacity they demonstrated 30 years ago.”
Some of these former leaders were in the audience during Fall Convocation, entering a new era with the South Texas College they first founded.
Moving forward and looking to the future, Solis and South Texas College’s Board of Trustees have significant plans for the college and what it means to be a jaguar.
With partnerships already in place with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and Texas A&M’s prestigious engineering academy, South Texas College is setting up its students for success. In the coming year, South Texas College will also establish a Promise Program for dual credit students, that is designed to be a “last-dollar” scholarship to cover tuition.
Other programs in development for 2024 include Architecture, Dental Hygienist, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Video and Cinema Production, Network Security, Robotics and International Business, including two new non-credit programs – Cybersecurity and Massage Therapy.
“Our future is bright here at STC. And on behalf of STC administration and the Board of Trustees, we want to thank our faculty and staff who works tirelessly daily to make STC’s vision a reality,” said Benavidez. “We owe these 30 years to them. They have made this historical milestone – 30 years, a brand-new look, possible. Here’s to the next 30, plus years; STC still has so much growth to see.”
Those in attendance at STC’s Fall Convocation also had the opportunity to be the first to receive and wear “Jag Swag” with the new logo emblazoned upon them.
About South Texas College
Founded in 1993, South Texas College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers more than 127 degree & certificate options, including associate degrees in a variety of liberal art, social science, business, math, science, technology, advanced manufacturing and allied health fields of study. Additionally,
South Texas College is the only community college in the state of Texas to offer five baccalaureate degrees. South Texas College has a faculty and staff of more than 2,700 to serve 28,000 students, on the college’s six campuses, two higher education centers, and one virtual campus.
More About DHR Health
On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Driscoll Health System held a groundbreaking ceremony for Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley, located at 2820 W. Michelangelo Drive in Edinburg, which is being built on the site of the DHR Health campus, next to DHR Health’s The Women’s Hospital at Renaissance. DHR Health was instrumental in working with Driscoll Children’s Hospital to bring the first true freestanding children’s hospital to the Valley.
The new, independently operated eight-level pediatric hospital will further the mission of Driscoll Children’s Hospital founder Clara Driscoll to provide medical care to all the children of South Texas. The building is expected to be completed later in 2023.
The Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley represents a combined investment of more than $105 million with DHR Heath. Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley will operate with more than 500 employees, creating significant economic impact and new job opportunities for clinical, ancillary and support staff in the Valley.
Amanda Sotelo contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).