The Governor of Nuevo Leon, Jaime Heliódoro Rodríguez Calderón, met with Mexican students at UT during a special event organized by the Mexican Center of LLILAS and the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin on March 31.
Rodriguez Calderón was in Texas to promote bilateral agreements between Texas and Nuevo León and to discuss several subjects on safety, investment and migration.
But his main message to the students was to return to Mexico after completing their degrees.
Rodriguez Calderón entered the room in the Texas Union and greeted each student one-by-one. The charismatic governor, also known as “El Bronco,” told them that they can – and should – leverage the experience and knowledge they have gained at UT to transform their country.
Speaking exclusively in Spanish, he said, “I am here to tell you that I am proud of you for coming to study here. I know that the opportunities in Mexico might not be the ones you are seeking, but we need you.”
Rodriguez Calderón has attracted the spotlight for his unconventional and direct style. He ran as an independent and used social media instead of mass media to garner attention. The governor continues to communicate with his constituents via social media and even offers them his personal phone number to discuss their opinions or complaints.
He told the UT students in attendance that it is his goal to challenge the traditional political paradigm in Mexico.
“Are we going to allow our country to fall while we live elsewhere comfortably?” he challenged the students. “Let’s look [for opportunities] in our place of origin. If we can do that, I can promise you that my government is working and will work to improve the conditions.”
After discussing subjects on corruption, conflict-resolution, and new forms of communication, Rodriguez Calderón opened the floor to questions from students.
Jorge Vasquez, Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering, voiced his analysis that Mexico had invested less in science and technology than the United States after World War II.
“Nuevo Leon is one of the states that has invested the most in science and technology,” he said. “But this is not [comparable] at a national level. I think [the investment in science and technology] has a direct influence in bringing people out of poverty and fixing the social ladder that prevents individual to access higher class levels.”
He also expressed concerns about corruption and challenged the governor. “Mexico needs to break paradigms and build bridges,” he said.
Rodriguez Calderón agreed that science and technology are important to economic progress and can help transform the country. “It is unfortunate that you come here to study and can’t find a way back [to Mexico],” the governor replied. “We want to create those opportunities.”
In addition to meeting the Mexican students at UT Austin, El Bronco also sat down with UT President Gregory Fenves, who earlier in January led a large delegation of deans, faculty, and staff to Mexico with the goal of expanding academic and research collaborations with Mexican universities and institutions.