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Couple Establishes Endowment at McAllen Campus

Published on 8/16/2021 3:51:39 PM
By Sydnie Harrell, Office of Undergraduate Studies at Texas A&M University

In honor of his father, Dr. Rodolfo E. Margo’s ‘59, legacy, Randy Margo ’89 and his wife Kayla Margo ’89 established a scholarship for healthcare majors at the 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.”

 
Dr. Rodolfo E. Margo ’59 circa 1960.
  
Randy and Kayla 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 Randy and Kayla for their final approval.
 
“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 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.”
 
Dr. Margo’s story began in Rio Grande City, Texas, a city 45 minutes west of McAllen where he grew up. After high school, he attended Texas A&M University where he was a pre-medicine student. Following his time there, Dr. Margo went to UT 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 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, Dr. 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 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,” Randy 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, Dr. 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.
 
Dr. Rodolfo E. Margo ’59 graduation photo.

  “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 said. “When they named the school after him, he was incredibly humbled.”
 
Dr. 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. Furthermore, he was notorious for his embodiment of the core values. His 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 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 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 says 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 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 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.”
 
Assistant Provost Dr. 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 Dr. 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,” Dr. 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 hopes to not only help fund student’s 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 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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Media Contact: Anna Transue, transuea@tamu.edu