Texas A&M: Former Students Establish $100K Endowment For Healthcare Majors At McAllen Campus

In honor of his father, Dr. Rodolfo E. Margo ‘59, Randy Margo ’89 and his wife Kayla Margo ’89 established a scholarship for healthcare majors at the Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen (HECM) totaling $100,000.

“I always had this idea of funding a scholarship in my father’s name focused on the medical profession to honor his legacy,” Randy said. “He passed away when I was 22 years old because of cancer; it’s been 30 years since then, and after somebody is gone that long, people start to forget. I thought this was a great way to revive his memory.”

The Margos are donating $10,000 a year for 10 years and will award the annual scholarship to up to three Aggies (two incoming freshmen and one upperclassman) enrolled in public health or biomedical sciences. A committee comprised of HECM staff and faculty will review and recommend recipients to be sent to the couple for their final approval.

“A lot of those who want to go into the medical field can’t afford to do it, and it’s a field that can never have enough people with big hearts and open minds,” Randy Margo said. “The scholarship focuses on the area where my father grew up, where he had roots, where he had a great impact, and it’s part of The Texas A&M System.”

Rodolfo Margo’s story began in Rio Grande City, Texas, 45 minutes west of McAllen where he grew up. After high school, he attended Texas A&M where he was a pre-medicine student. Following his time there, he went to the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston before moving back south and settling down in Weslaco, a small town 20 minutes east of McAllen.

“He became an ophthalmologist in Weslaco in the mid-1960s at Dr. Thurmond’s practice,” Randy Margo said. “He started his practice there, and that’s where my two brothers, two sisters, and I all grew up. We grew roots there.”

As an ophthalmologist, Rodolfo Margo was known for his selfless act of providing care for patients who couldn’t afford to pay for the treatment and visits they needed. Randy Margo recalls that patients would thank his father later by gifting his family homemade food, like tamales.

“I remember getting gifts at Christmas from patients that he said couldn’t pay their bills,” he said. “There were always gifts in the house from patients saying thank you for his generosity. It wasn’t a big, publicized thing that he did, but it was known that he did it. He was a very quiet giver; he exuded goodness by giving back to the community.”

In addition to his legacy of helping the community as an ophthalmologist, Rodolfo Margo was involved in numerous organizations in the Rio Grande Valley, including civic organizations and Rotary Club; he was also president of the school board. This participation led to a school, Dr. R.E. Margo Elementary, and a surgery center being named after him.

“Much of what I had to do growing up was without his direction and leadership, but others always talked about him and how great of a person he was for the community and the medical system in Weslaco,” Randy Margo said. “When they named the school after him, he was incredibly humbled.”

Rodolfo Margo was also known by his family and the Weslaco community for his love for Texas A&M and their rivalry with the University of Texas. He is also remembered for his embodiment of the core values. Randy Margo said his father’s legacy still lives on through his exemplification of leadership, integrity and selfless service.

“My father demonstrated selfless service to his patients and the community,” Randy said. “His legacy was his core values. He was not a perfect man, and we all have our flaws, but he did stick to his guns on what was important: his character, his integrity and his word. The kind of man he was to others had an impact on me growing up.”

After his father’s passing, Randy Margo graduated from Texas A&M in 1989 with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. His wife, Kayla, graduated the same year with a bachelor of business administration in marketing. Following his graduation, Randy knew he wanted to eventually give back to the university. This past year, his cousin, HECM Director Rick Margo, reached out to him with information on opportunities to help.

“I sat down with my cousin Rick, and I brought up that I wanted to put a scholarship fund together in my dad’s name,” Randy Margo said. “There was a whole list of things that impacted my decision: our history growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, our history with Texas A&M University, and also my dad’s culture that he espoused in giving back to the community.”

Currently, students majoring in public health and biomedical sciences at the HECM will be eligible to apply for the scholarship; more than half of the student population are enrolled in these majors. Randy Margo said that they plan to expand the scope of the scholarship if the HECM adds more healthcare majors.

“I am very happy that Randy and Kayla decided to honor his father with a scholarship in his name,” Rick Margo said. “Tio Tofo­­­—that’s what his nieces and nephews called him—was an extraordinary individual with a big and giving heart who helped thousands of folks through his work as a medical doctor and surgeon. He was also a great brother, father, son, friend, mentor, volunteer and business associate. All who knew him always commented positively on his intelligence, sense of humor and unselfishness.”

HECM Assistant Provost Adolfo Santos says that the scholarship will benefit students who do not often qualify for scholarship funds. He also adds that Randy and Kayla’s decision to name the endowment after Rodolfo Margo is a fitting way to honor someone who is a hero to their community.

“There is something very special in the Aggie spirit that manifests itself in the generosity and commitment to selfless service found in our alumni,” Santos said. “This is especially true among Aggies from the Rio Grande Valley. Randy and Kayla are a wonderful example of this generous spirit and willingness to help others.”

Through supporting the HECM, Randy Margo hopes to not only help fund students’ medical dreams but also help create future leaders in the Rio Grande Valley community. Above all, he wants to ensure that his father’s impact is not forgotten.

“My father wasn’t after money or glory for himself, he was after people’s hearts,” Randy Margo said. “It’s not about me, it’s about him. I want to keep up my dad’s name and legacy and make sure people remember the things he did for the community through helping others.”

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