Nursing Alumna's Passion for Education Inspires Future Generation of Students
1968 graduate and 2003 Alumni of Distinction recipient Dr. Eloisa Taméz walked the stage this past May to receive her fifth degree
By Jorge Jones
“Education is a legacy that nourishes one to be a whole person who is objective, passionate, productive and giving. It is this latter characteristic that is pivotal in the transformation of knowledge to others.”
These are the words of 87-year-old nursing professor, 1968 Nursing graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word and 2003 Alumni of Distinction recipient Dr. Eloisa Taméz. Taméz is a lifelong learner whose constant commitment to education has proven the only barriers that exist in the pursuit of learning are those created by oneself.
Taméz, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, walked the stage in May to receive her fifth degree, a Master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.
Born in el Calaboz, Texas, a small South Texas town half-a-mile from the Rio Grande River, Taméz started to demonstrate her love for school early in life. The former San Benito High School student graduated in the top ten percent of her class in the early 1950’s.
“Both of my parents garnered a sixth-grade education at a time when the average years of education among Mexican-Americans was one year,” she said. “Both always emphasized the value of an educated family.”
Influenced by her parents’ persistent advocacy for education and her own love of caring for people, Taméz had her mind set on her future early in life.
“As a sophomore in high school, I decided that the nursing profession was what I would pursue,” she recalls. “I went to the counselor’s office and found a brochure for St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Galveston, Texas. So, by the time I was a senior, I had applied and been accepted.”
A few years after completing her first degree as a registered nurse in Galveston, Taméz set her next goal. The South Texas native had intentions of completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
In the mid-1960’s, Taméz’s husband was relocated to San Antonio for work. Once in the Alamo City, she capitalized on the opportunity and wasted no time in applying to Incarnate Word College, now the University of the Incarnate Word.
Taméz enrolled in the RN-BSN program. In this program, registered nurses had the opportunity to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing through a collaborative effort with the Santa Rosa Medical Center (SRMC).
“My experience at IWC was my first real college experience,” remembers Taméz. “The faculty was interactive and supportive. I enrolled in nursing courses as well as prerequisites. It was a very full schedule, and when I think back, I wonder how I was able to accomplish that.”
In the mid-1960’s, Incarnate Word’s BSN program was one of the first of its kind in Texas. Through courses such as logic, research, child development, advanced English and introductory statistics, Taméz developed necessary critical thinking skills, which gradually prepared her for further education.
Following her time at Incarnate Word, Taméz went on to complete her Master of Science in Nursing from The University of Texas System School of Nursing at San Antonio, now UT-Health San Antonio, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in Physical and Health Education from the University of Texas at Austin.
However, for Taméz, attending a faith-based institution was key early on in her career. Her experience at Incarnate Word propelled her desire to serve others.
“The environment of a faith-based university strengthened my commitment to service and innovation,” she expressed. “It has been central to my passion to develop academic programs to serve our communities.”
Keeping the University’s core values alive in her professional career, Taméz commenced a long and successful career working for the nation’s military and government.
Taméz’s career accomplishments include serving as Chief Nurse for the Department of Veteran Affairs as well as ascending from First Lieutenant to Colonel in the United States Army Reserve, United States Army and Texas State Guard.
Today, Taméz continues to share her passion for education through teaching. As a nursing professor and former associate dean for student affairs at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, she is able to embody the importance of learning for future generations of nurses.
Having faced adversity herself, Taméz understands how challenging it can be to pursue an educational journey. However, as part of her mission, she continues to support and advocate for student success.
“Education is forever,” she passionately said. “Go to college. A college degree will open doors for you. Do not let the barriers stand in your way. When people try to hold you back, it’s because they see potential you may not see. Do not let those barriers get you. Turn barriers into initiatives. That is what I have done all my life.”