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Dr. Annabelle Palomo Honored at the 4th Annual Hispanic Women Making History Awards

A Trailblazing Journey in Education and Healthcare

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Dr. Annabelle Palomo, a visionary in education and healthcare, delivers an inspiring speech at the 4th Annual Hispanic Women Making History Awards, acknowledging the foundational role of heritage, family, and perseverance in her journey to significantly impact the Rio Grande Valley. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Dr. Annabelle Palomo, a visionary in education and healthcare, delivers an inspiring speech at the 4th Annual Hispanic Women Making History Awards, acknowledging the foundational role of heritage, family, and perseverance in her journey to significantly impact the Rio Grande Valley. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
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By Roberto Hugo González

On March 19, 2024, the prestigious Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT) -RGV Women Making History Award celebrated remarkable women for their substantial contributions and achievements. Dr. Annabelle Palomo, a trailblazer in education and healthcare who founded RGV College in Pharr, Texas, was among the honorees.

The event’s master of ceremonies proudly acknowledged her, stating, “We are privileged to honor and award Dr. Palomo today, a leader in progress in education and healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley, with an impressive academic path that includes a doctorate from the University of Texas, Pan American.” Over 17 years, Dr. Palomo has navigated various educational roles, evolving from a dedicated teacher to a visionary principal to an impactful executive director. 

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Her passion for enlightening minds led to the creation of RGV College, where she assumed the CEO role. Here, she has been instrumental in transforming post-secondary education through various programs, particularly in nursing and health sciences. 

Under her guidance, RGV College has thrived, significantly alleviating the region’s shortage of healthcare professionals while upholding outstanding educational quality. Dr. Palomo’s relentless pursuit of excellence, personal growth, and strategic collaborations with renowned leaders stress her profound commitment to her mission. 

The master of ceremonies presented Dr. Annabelle Palomo with the prestigious HWNT-RGV Women Making History Award, celebrating her contributions to education and healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley. Photo by Roberto Hugo González

Moreover, her contributions have transcended academic settings, as she has actively engaged in numerous boards and committees to foster community development and expand educational access. Through Dr. Palomo’s dedication and strong leadership, she envisions and actively crafts a brighter future for her students and the broader Rio Grande Valley community.

During this celebration, it was also said that the mission of HWNT Hispanic Women Network of Texas is to promote the advancement of women in public, corporate, and civic life through education and personal and professional development. Their vision is to be the premier women’s organization, leading as an agent of change.

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Upon ascending the stage and being greeted by applause, Dr. Palomo graciously began her address, expressing her heartfelt appreciation for the recognition bestowed upon her. “First and foremost, I must extend my deepest gratitude to HWNT for this unexpected honor and beautiful award,” she stated. Digging into the roots of her success, Dr. Palomo stressed the vital role of heritage and the powerful influence of her family, particularly her mother. “As a Latina standing before you, it’s imperative to acknowledge the trailblazing Latinas who paved the way, notably my mother. This May marks two years since her passing, and the lessons of perseverance and the value of hard work she instilled in me have been my guiding light,” she reflected.

Dr. Palomo shared emotional memories of her mother’s determination, recounting, “I remember watching her, her hands dyed purple from packing grapefruit, counting her earnings, which taught me the critical importance of education to get out of this situation. She always said, ‘La educación, mija, nadie te la quita’—education can never be taken from you.”

Highlighting her journey, Dr. Palomo revealed, “Despite her reservations about me leaving the valley for education, my mother’s teachings and my resolve led me to where I am today. From becoming a principal at 29 to founding RGV College, I’ve been driven by a gift from God in education—a gift I’ve dedicated myself to nurturing and expanding.”

Under her leadership, RGV College blossomed from a modest beginning with just five Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students to robust programs and expansion plans into San Antonio. “This growth,” she acknowledged, “could not have been possible without the support of my Latina sister, friends, and colleagues who believed in my vision.”

Dr. Palomo also touched on her philosophy of inclusivity and support in education, emphasizing, “It’s not about the grades or the background but about giving each student a chance. Some of our students, initially doubted, have become nurse practitioners.”

In closing, Dr. Palomo shared her motivation and legacy, saying, “This journey isn’t about accolades for me. It’s about the impact and the difference we make. If we’ve touched even one life today, it makes all our efforts worthwhile.” She humbly dedicated the award to her team, her daughter, and all those who’ve been part of her journey, concluding, “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this honor. It’s evidence of my work and our community’s spirit and hard work.”

The Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT) is a statewide organization of people from various walks of life, united in their mission to enhance the presence and influence of women in the public, corporate, and civic circles. HWNT is dedicated to enriching women’s lives through education, cultural awareness, social support, legal rights, and economic empowerment, aiming for greater recognition of their contributions to society, the professional world, and family dynamics. Its members are devoted to uplifting and celebrating Hispanic culture’s rich heritage and positive values.

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