PART 17: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 17: “TIME TO REFLECT” | BY SHIRLEY RICKETT Mary sat up, groggy from the dream, and looked in the direction of her ringing cell, aware now it was John’s face she had seen in the dream. “Hello?” “Mary? My Mah—ree?” Read the full story at

McAllen native part of heroic El Paso trauma center team after shooting

Ten months ago, all surgeons of the University Medical Center of El Paso received a text from the chief of surgery there: “Active shooter. Anybody available return to the hospital immediately.” Dr. Alejandro Rios Tovar, a McAllen native, who since 2011 has been an associate trauma medical director at the medical center, was one of the few who got that text on Aug. 3, 2019. Tovar had just gotten home in El Paso after a 30-hour shift as the on-call surgeon the night before. On his way home, he picked up McDonald’s — something he said he does not do often — because he “just wanted to go home and pass out, and eat whatever was on the road home.” Read the full story at

GARDEN VIEW: Gardening can grow happiness, reduce anxiety

I always enjoy working in my garden and nothing can put my busy mind to rest like pruning and weeding. The combination of connecting...

Sleeping during the pandemic: Advice on finding rest for the restless

As anxiety caused by the coronavirus continues to build, so have problems of restlessness for some — an often ignored problem that, in turn, can affect functionality throughout the day, a local physician explained. Dr. Adolfo Kaplan, a physician at the McAllen Pulmonary and Sleep Center of the Valley, said the importance of sleep is not addressed enough. Before the pandemic, approximately 30% of the population suffered from insomnia. Cases of chronic insomnia can lead to increased chances of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several types of dementia. Insomnia also leads to obesity. Read the full story at

Nonprofit continues to support students to, and through, college

The transition from high school to college can be a daunting step as it is. Now, as students also face unprecedented obstacles that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to education systems, nonprofit College Scholarship Leadership Access Program, or CSLAP, has been working to support local seniors through the process of college admissions.  Through workshops and mentorship with university students, the Rio Grande Valley-based organization works with high school juniors and seniors to  prepare them for college. Workshops cover a range of topics, including professionalism, campus policy, and budgeting.  The last several months of a school year are integral for seniors to get assistance in getting ready for university life, so CSLAP has been hosting several virtual panels to answer questions they may have. Read the full story at

PART 16: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 16 “DE JA VU” | BY MADHAVI REDDY Mary rubbed her temples, trying to make sense of recent events: the freak fatal accident involving Sylvia, followed by the mystery of the Golden Sassafras, Michael, Forest, the nefarious scheme she witnessed at Cine El Rey, the Old Man, and the intriguing nature spirits. Overwhelmed, she had returned home after extracting a promise from Twix and Forest to come to her rescue whenever she needed them. “Maybe I can somehow save Sylvia, or perhaps the whole world, from COVID19, if I can just clear my head,” she thought. “I need a good night’s rest and someone I trust to talk to about all this.” She knew who that person was—Twix had reminded her with the question, “Do you have a boyfriend?” Read the full story at

Everyone was there for this season’s last First Friday Art Walk in McAllen, and they weren’t disappointed. Art Walk offered a full evening and art...

IDEA Quest teacher holds off on grad school plans to see students through to...

He put his own educational endeavors on hold because he wanted to see his first class of students walk the stage. Though it won’t be something he will get to be able to actually see happen anymore, Alejandro Madrigal said he would not have changed a thing — the bonds he forged with his students were more than he could have asked for. The Weslaco native graduated from the University of Texas in Austin before taking his first step in the education field as an eighth grade U.S. history teacher at IDEA Quest College Preparatory in 2015 through Teach for America. The organization places teachers in schools across the country for two years, and Madrigal was placed back in the Rio Grande Valley to teach for a couple of years before going to graduate school — at least, that was the plan. “I think other teachers could attest to this too, there is something special about the first group you teach,” Madrigal, 26, said. “So, I had to see them go all the way through, there was almost no doubt that I had to stay until I saw that happen… it was OK that my plans were put on hold for just a few years.” Read the full story at

PART 15: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 15: “THE CHAOTIC ADDITION” | BY SARA NEAL As Henry led the way to the small house, Mary looked around to see a few people performing their everyday tasks. At first glance everything looked so beautiful and serene, but something felt wrong. Mary knew she shouldn’t judge, but she hoped this dark feeling was new to them as well. She couldn’t imagine a place like this, which seemed to be right out of a fairytale, make you feel you were in a dark empty pit. Aronia noticed Mary’s frown and guessed the reason behind her sudden emotional shift. “It’s sad what this virus is doing to the emotional environment of the world,” Aronia directed toward Mary. Mary gave Aronia a look that read, “ Tell me more.” Read the full story at

GARDEN VIEW: Herbal teas: refreshing and tasty

Herb gardens are in their glory right now in the Rio Grande Valley, especially those herbs that thrive in tropical and subtropical regions, like...