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First Javelina Relight students receive degrees Friday

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Michael Martinez, right, with John Carrillo

Michael Martinez, right, with John Carrillo

KINGSVILLE (August 4, 2023) — There are many reasons students drop out of college and at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, staff are looking for ways to overcome those reasons and help those students get back on track to their degree.


Dr. Robert H. Vela Jr., university president, announced the Javelina Relight program during his inauguration speech in November 2022. Since then, the program has helped 42 students get back in the classroom. The first 15 Javelina Relight students to receive their degree did so during summer commencement held today, Friday, Aug. 4.


“Javelina Relight is a student recovery program intended to help stop-out and pause-out students with 90 plus earned credit hours return to the university to complete their degree through holistic student support, like scholarship support for up to six credit hours for eligible students,” John Carrillo, executive director of student completion and community college relations, said.


One of those was Michael Martinez who received his bachelor’s degree in general studies with an emphasis in social work and psychology. Martinez, a native of Kingsville and a graduate from Academy High School, currently lives and works in the Rio Grande Valley.


“I first started classes in the fall 2017. At that time, my original major was social work,” he said.


“I left school in December 2020 to move down to the Valley to be closer to my now ex-partner at the time,” Martinez said. “Now, looking back, I realize that I should never put any relationship before my education and I should have stayed and finished. I was one year short of graduation.”


Meanwhile, staff at Texas A&M-Kingsville were looking for stop-out, pause-out students who met the criteria for the new Javelina Relight program and wanted to re-enroll at the university. A stop-out student is one who leaves the school for more than two years and are required to reapply for admission. A pause-out is one that leaves school for less than two years allowing them to come back where they left off.


“I found out about the Relight program when Mr. John Carrillo reached out to me in the spring of 2023. He told me I was eligible for graduation if I did a change of major,” Martinez said. “I was immediately convinced. I have always wanted to graduate with a bachelor’s degree especially since I am a first generation college student on both sides of my family in both immediate and extended family.”


Although the situations of the Javelina Relight participants are different, Martinez did not have to take any additional classes to receive his degree.


“Michael was one of those who we audited and were able to switch his major to general studies. He was considered degree complete without having to do any more coursework,” said Carrillo.


“General studies wasn’t offered when he first came here so we took advantage of that program existing now to help the student,” Carrillo added. “We do have students who we have switched to general studies who have been able to reduce time to degree completion and finished the remaining coursework online.”


Since moving to the Rio Grande Valley, Martinez has worked a few jobs in the health care industry starting as a registration representative in a freestanding emergency room.


“The moment I found out that I was for sure graduating, I utilized my experience and I accepted a brand new job as a benefits coordinator for CanoHealth,” he said. “Utilizing my degree now will definitely take me that much farther in progressing my work career within the healthcare and medical fields.”


“We have been actively contacting students through email, text and call campaigns who we have identified as initially eligible totaling over 900 former students,” he said. “We have 42 students in the program, working with them from the spring and summer semesters. We will continue working with them and are actively reaching out to other students during the upcoming fall semester.”


To be eligible for Javelina Relight, students must have previously completed more than 90 earned hours, have been in good academic standing while at the university, not currently enrolled elsewhere and enrolled in six or more hours.


More information or to start the contact process for Javelina Relight, visit



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