Senator Zaffirini Wins Sweepstakes, 12 Awards from Press Women of Texas

(AUSTIN) — With 12 winning entries, Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is the sweepstakes winner in the Press Women of Texas (PWT) 2012 Communications Contest for work published in 2011. Because her multiple winning entries earned her more points than any other entrant, she won the contest’s Sweepstakes Award for the second consecutive year.

The senator’s award winners include her news releases regarding higher education issues, Senate floor speeches in opposition to voter ID and sanctuary cities legislation; her annual newsletter to constituents; and the website of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency.

Senator Zaffirini’s annual newsletter, Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21, won two first place awards: one for the publication as a whole and a second for its layout. Also winning first place honors were two news releases regarding outcomes-based funding in higher education and the senator’s legislation creating the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Challenge Scholarship program.

Other first place winners included a feature release marking Senator Zaffirini’s 47,550th consecutive vote in the Texas Senate and, the blog of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which Senator Zaffirini co-chairs. The senator’s floor speeches in opposition to voter ID legislation, sanctuary cities legislation and the state budget won, respectively, second place, third place and honorable mention in the speech category.

“Winning the Sweepstakes Award not only is a great honor, but also reflects my commitment to communicating with constituents via all available news and social media,” Senator Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I am grateful to Press Women of Texas for championing First Amendment Rights and professional development in communication.”

The senator has won more than 670 awards for her professional and public service work, including more than 130 for communication projects. Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, she is the namesake of Texas A&M International University’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, United ISD’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School, Laredo Community College’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Library, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Edinburg’s Judith Zaffirini Residential Treatment Center that focuses on fighting drug addiction.

Founded in 1893, PWT champions First Amendment rights, promotes awareness of professional standards in journalism and communications and provides valuable resources for women working in the communications arena.

TAMIU Names University Success Center in Honor of Sen. Zaffirini

Recognizing a “tireless champion for Texas higher education and TAMIU,” Texas A&M International University named its University Success Center for State Senator Judith Zaffirini in ceremonies Monday, June 11 in the lobby of the new Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center.

The Texas A&M University System Chancellor, John Sharp, Jim Schwertner and Elaine Mendoza of the Board of Regents for the A&M System, joined University officials in announcing the honor. A&M Regents approved the naming in Board action Friday.

TAMIU president Ray Keck said Sen. Zaffirini’s support of higher education was critical to all institutions, but most especially for TAMIU.

“She knows education. She is herself a product of a remarkable education. She maintains a laser focus on TAMIU and is deeply engaged in the life of our institution and our students. From helping to secure legislative funding to helping us to attract critical student scholarship support, she is front and center. Her tireless advocacy and leadership have been pivotal in TAMIU becoming a major regional university of choice.

“Likewise, her role on the Senate’s Higher Education Committee has given her a substantial responsibility for education statewide which she discharges with deep commitment and resolve. What better building to have her name associated with than one that dedicates itself, like her, to student success?,” he observed.

Chancellor Sharp, both a former colleague and friend of the Senator, said he was honored to help celebrate the naming of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center.

“There is no bigger champion of higher education in our state than Senator Zaffirini and certainly no larger influence on the campus of Texas A&M International University. This recognition is a tribute to her work for students and our immense gratitude to her,” Chancellor Sharp said.

Regent Schwertner concurred, noting Senator Zaffrini’s expansive involvement in Texas higher education.

“Senator Zaffirini is and has remained a spirited leader for higher education in Texas. Her fingerprints can be seen on virtually every aspect of the education system. It is entirely appropriate that we now honor her with this lasting recognition on such an important building in her hometown, ” Regent Schwertner said.

The Center, made possible by State funding initiated by Sen. Zaffirini in the 2006 Legislative Session approved by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, centralizes essential student services areas under one roof.

Current and prospective students are able to access needed services to apply for admission, take placement exams, register for classes, apply for financial aid, request transcripts, pay for classes, buy books and obtain academic counseling services, all in one location.

Sharp, who became Chancellor of the A&M System in 2011, serves as chief executive officer of the A&M System under the direction of the Board of Regents.

Regent Schwertner, appointed to the Board in 2009, serves as chair of the Policy Review Committee and as a member of the Committee on Finance, Committee on Buildings and Physical Plant and the Herman F. & Minnie Belle Heep Texas A&M University Foundation.

Regent Mendoza, of San Antonio, was appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Perry in 2011.

The A&M System is a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center that educates more than 120,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $780 million and help drive the state’s economy.

For additional information, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email [email protected] or click on