TSC alumna works to improve access to higher education through positive change

Now serving her first term as an elected member of the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees, Delia Saenz is prepared to continue the work she began to improve access to higher education.

The Brownsville native has worked more than three decades in education and said she was inspired by the great work at TSC to fill the vacant Place 4 seat on the board. Saenz was appointed by the TSC Board of Trustees to fill the position in August of 2019.

“The seat needed to be filled, so when I was approached, I took the challenge because this was my chance to give back to our communities,” said Saenz. “Everything started for me right here at TSC, and I want to make sure that everyone has the same life-changing opportunity I did.”

Saenz graduated with an associate degree from TSC in 1971. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 from Texas A&I University in Kingsville, launching a 30-year career in education.

As the oldest of seven siblings and the first from her family to attend and graduate from college, it was always Saenz’s goal to get an education and be an example.

“I always heard from my aunt, ‘Mijita you can do this,’” said Saenz. “It was that encouragement and support that made all of the difference for me and my siblings. So, dedicating my career to my students and their futures, and being that help for many is fitting.”

Immediately after earning her degrees, she became an elementary bilingual teacher in Brownsville. Saenz later moved to Austin and taught there for three years, while her husband was in law school, and returned to Brownsville, where she continued to teach for 21 years.

“Having grown up, gone to school and worked in Brownsville for 21 years, I know how important it is to encourage and support the children of our communities in getting a higher education,” said Saenz. “Most of the time our students are breaking barriers for their families, and they need our support and encouragement.”

During Saenz’s term, she has worked closely with her fellow trustees and college leadership to ensure that TSC received its reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), continued to offer an affordable education by keeping tuition low, approved deductions in tuition to help students stay in school during the global pandemic and approved new programs, campus renovations and improvements.

But what Saenz said is most rewarding as a trustee is the same thing that was rewarding during her time in the classroom – seeing students improve, grow, learn and ultimately graduate. She said, “That is when you know you have made a difference in students’ lives and it fills my heart with joy.”

Saenz said a lot at TSC has changed since she first stepped foot on campus as a student.

“TSC has grown so much, from the size of the campus to the programs offered, and it continues to grow to benefit students and the communities,” said Saenz. “As a trustee, I will continue to work hard for these positive changes that enable us to better serve the Lower Rio Grande Valley.”