UTEP Student Awarded Grant For Rio Grande Research

Apr 26, 2013

Maria Schrock, a Ph.D. candidate in UTEP’s Department of History, has received a highly competitive $80,000 grant from Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).

“This is a very prestigious interdisciplinary award and we are thrilled that it went to Maria,” said Jeffrey P. Shepherd, Ph.D., associate professor and doctoral program director for the Department of History.

Schrock is working on an environmental history of the Rio Conchos, which feeds into the Rio Grande. She will cover the period from 1944, when the United States and Mexico signed their landmark water treaty, up to 2010.

“It’s the first ever dissertation on this topic and is sure to make an important contribution to our understanding of the history of the border region,” Shepherd said.

Professor of History Samuel Brunk, Ph.D., said, “Maria Schrock's dissertation on the Rio Conchos since 1944 will be the first work to focus in a general way on issues of water rights, water control, and human health on the Rio Conchos during any historical period.”

The 31-year-old doctoral candidate is the third of nine children, the first in her family to graduate high school, and the only one to attend and finish college.

“As a child, my parents always told me about the importance of getting an education,” Schrock said. “My mother specifically would tell me how a Ph.D. was the highest level of education a person could get. Of course, when you live in a 450-square-foot home, you know that it will be a struggle to get that kind of education. My house in Mexico only had two rooms. In one room, my siblings and I slept. The other one was my parent’s room and the kitchen. The roof of both rooms was made out of cardboard. But I told myself that being poor was not going to be a barrier for me.”

Schrock worked herself through high school, community college, and eventually Humboldt State University, while also taking care of her family. She received her bachelor’s degree in history in 2004 and her master’s degree – with a 4.0 G.P.A. – from New Mexico State University in 2010. Schrock began the history doctoral program at UTEP in 2010.

The four-year award will help fund Schrock’s tuition, educational expenses and dissertation research while she completes her degree.