The Rio Grande Valley is a growing and thriving region of Texas and the United States. For many years, though, the area and the people of the RGV have not always gotten the positive recognition they deserve. Seventeen-year-old Sydney Ramon set out to change that.
Ramon founded The RGV Matters in 2017. She is a recent graduate of McAllen ISD who will be attending Texas A&M College Station in the fall. The RGV Matters is the legacy she hopes to develop.
Q: What is The RGV Matters?
A: It is a youth-led education and community empowerment organization.
Q: What is the main goal of The RGV Matters?
A: We want to foster a love of the RGV and help to recognize all of the awesome people and great things happening in the RGV. Our mission statement really encompasses what we hope to do. Empowering border communities through education, collaboration and communication.
Q: Why did you start The RGV Matters?
A: I liked the idea of having something youth and community based. It was in my mind since I was a freshman, because I competed in the National Hispanic Institute. That was very community based and focused on figuring out what you can do to better your community. I thought of The RGV Matters, but I just didn’t pursue it.
Then as a sophomore, I had a teacher who went to Yale. We were really confused as to why he was a teacher when he went to Yale. He asked us, “Why don’t you all deserve to have a teacher that was educated at Yale?” I started thinking about why we felt so undeserving. We look at our friends from bigger cities, and they have teachers that went to good universities, and nobody ever questions it.
I came to the realization that we feel undeserving of a lot of things we get in our community. I’m constantly hearing people bashing the Valley, and I wanted to change that mindset. I decided to really do something with The RGV Matters, because the Valley has so much to offer. I wanted to help youth see the good in our community.
Q: How did you actually get it off the ground?
A: That actually took a while. It technically began in 2017 as a hashtag … #thergvmattersbecause. We had a good support system and it gained in popularity as people posted why the RGV matters. I got to interview with a couple of magazines and local news stations. They picked it up, so it gained a larger following. I was a sophomore and I didn’t really have the vision to know what came next.
Then this year as a senior, I knew it was now or never. I am leaving for college and I knew I needed to leave something behind that could keep going and growing.
Q: What help did you have to get it going?
A: I just reached out to everyone that I could think of. It was hard though. I kept hearing, “It’s a great idea, but unfortunately we won’t be able to help you right now.” Who really trusts 16 year olds to do something big like this?
To truly get it off the ground, I honestly couldn’t have done it without my peers. The people who were in my classrooms reached out to their parents and asked for help, which we eventually got. The whole thing was entirely youth based because they were the ones who saw my vision for it.
Q: What does The RGV Matters actually do on a regular basis? What are you doing to bring interest to it or to help the community?
A: Our biggest event has been the McAllen ISD school board forum. What our goal was with this, was to give these candidates a platform to communicate their stance on a variety of different issues. The key though, was that we really wanted it to be from a youth perspective.