Former US Ambassador Raul H. Yzaguirre, known as longtime hero for Hispanics
SAN JUAN – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD officially dedicated their newest middle school building to former U.S. Ambassador Raul Humberto Yzaguirre. The school pays tribute to the PSJA alumnus who dedicated his career to public service.
The PSJA Board of Trustees first renamed the school in August 2013 in honor of Yzaguirre, who has spent decades bettering the lives of minorities nationwide. Formerly known as San Juan Middle School and previously located on Veterans Blvd and Ridge Rd, the school was relocated to its new permanent home on 605 E. FM 495 in San Juan at the start of this school year.
In addition to PSJA faculty and staff, students and family members of Ambassador Yzaguirre attended the ceremony.
According to his son, Raul Yzaguirre, Jr. he was proud to see the school named after his father, as it is important for communities to honor their own heroes.
“I am so humbled and appreciative of the PSJA School Board for honoring my father this way,” said Yzaguirre Jr. on his father’s behalf. “My dad used to say over and over again 'As a community, we don't know who our heroes are’…that is why it's so important for this school to be named after a hero of ours."
Born on July 22, 1939 in San Juan, today Raul H. Yzaguirre is one of the most widely recognized leaders in the Hispanic community. His involvement in many of the most critical legislative and public policy issues made him a key national player on behalf of Hispanics. From 1974 to 2004, he served as President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic constituency based organization in the U.S. focused on fighting poverty and discrimination. Representing the Rio Grande Valley and Hispanics at the federal level, he served as Vice President at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C. and as a Senior Programs Analyst and Special Advisor at the U.S. Office for Economic Opportunity.
Due to Ambassador Yzaguirre’s inspirational career and tremendous accomplishments, PSJA Superintendent Dr. Daniel King advised students to work hard and take pride in their school.
"I hope your teachers take the time to teach you each year who Raul H. Yzaguirre is and what he's accomplished so far in his life,” Dr. King said. “He's an example for you because if you look at his story, he has spent his entire life looking for ways to make the community better and ways that the people around him from similar circumstances all across the nation can have an equal voice, an equal shot and equal treatment."
Due to the success of the event, School Principal Rebecca Luna said she is inspired to continue working hard to educate the next generation of leaders.
“Today we're recognized as one of the newest schools in our district. We are part of a big league of education institutions in our community,” Luna said. “This precious moment marks the begging of a new chapter in the life of this institution.”
Yzaguirre MS students are now housed at a state-of-the-art facility featuring automated lighting and HVAC control system. Every classroom includes a voice enhancement system and an interactive whiteboard teaching system. The campus has eight state of the art science classrooms, fine arts and athletics areas with one main gym, a practice gym and a weight room.
MORE ABOUT YZAGUIRRE
The PSJA High School Class of 1958 graduate, was confirmed by the Senate as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to the Dominican Republic in Sept. 2010. He was presented before the President of the Republic Dr. Leonel Fernandez, November of that same year shortly after his arrival.
Before serving as Ambassador, he was Presidential Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Center for Community Development and Civil Rights at Arizona State University. For 30 years, from 1974-2004, he served as President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza and prior to that as the Vice President at the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Yzaguirre also served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps for four years. He has a Bachelor of Science from George Washington University, was an Institute of Politics Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and studied at La Universidad de Las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. The Ambassador and his wife Audrey currently reside in Maryland and have six children.