Los Fresnos News

Wilmer Valderrama of ‘That ’70s Show’ Kicks Off UTRGV’s Distinguished Speaker Series

WILMER VALDERRAMA. Photo courtesy of Greater Talent Network.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Best known for his role as exchange student Fez on the hit TV comedy, “That ’70s Show,” Wilmer Valderrama will bring his passion, charisma and humor as the first speaker of the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Valderrama, an actor, producer and activist, will share his personal journey from a childhood spent mostly in Venezuela to his return at age 13 to the United States – unable to speak English – and his subsequent meteoric rise within five years to television network stardom.

A prominent voice for Latino representation, voting and fair immigration policies, Valderrama serves on the board of Voto Latino and as the spokesperson for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Ready 2 Lead program, which works to educate and empower Latino youth. Most recently, he co-founded HARNESS, a group dedicated to connecting communities to inspire action and power change.

He currently stars on the TV drama “NCIS,” and was the voice of Manny on Disney’s popular animated children’s show, “Handy Manny.”

The next DSS speaker will be George Takei, best known for his role in the acclaimed TV series “Star Trek,” and for being one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. He is scheduled to speak at UTRGV on Jan. 28, 2019, in Brownsville.

DSS is free and open to the public. ID is needed for UTRGV students, faculty and staff. For more information or special accommodations, call 956-665-7364 (Edinburg) or 956-882-5111 (Brownsville).


The Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) is a signature program under the leadership of Student Activities, that aims to provide the university and surrounding community with world-class speakers and lecturers. DSS hosts public events with priority seating for UTRGV students, faculty, and staff.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.