Inspiring Success

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It’s been more than 30 years since Irma Chapa – a natural-born storyteller – arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, and anyone who tuned into KGBT-TV in 1994 probably remembers that fresh-faced weather girl.

“It was the allure of storytelling and the power of communications that drew my attention to this career, and the fact that my parents would have to pay me to be quiet as a child,” she said.

Like other young girls growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chapa had her role models; only hers weren’t your typical pop star. For Chapa, those people who were driven to make positive and impactful changes inspired her the most.

“I was inspired by those who used their voices to bring about change, I admired Dan Rather and enjoyed watching David Letterman,” she said. “Rather’s distinct voice, poise and decorated news background has always impressed me.”

Other broadcasters also appealed to Chapa and fueled her childhood dreams.

One of the most memorable role models was a woman who reported the weather on a local Houston news station.

She remembers sitting in front of the television and being mesmerized by her confidence as she shared important weather information with communities in the Greater Houston area.

“Aside from news personalities and actors, my role models were my parents,” she said. “Both longed to for me to go to college and become independent.”

Chapa, originally from the East Texas town of Woodville, graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1993 and joined the KZTV news team in Corpus Christi as a news reporter.

She covered breaking news events and met interesting and impactful people, including Tejano singer Johnny Canales, then Texas Governor George W. Bush, and 70s television star Jimmy “J.J.” Walker.

She also remembers the sadness of that first year, which gripped her when she responded to traffic accidents or other human tragedies.

“I’ll never forget the first time I had to report on a traffic fatality,” Chapa said. “The images leave a permanent scar.”

A year later, she was hired at KGBT as the weather anchor, where she remained for eight years before moving to corporate communications.

Her first job in corporate communications was with Valley Baptist Health System, where she led the public relations team. In 2009, Chapa became the Director of Strategic Communications for the U.S. Border Patrol’s RGV Sector in Edinburg.

“The motivation for my transition into strategic communications stemmed from a desire to contribute to a broader narrative,” she said.

In 2020, Chapa moved to Washington, DC, where she served as a Management and Program Analyst with the Department of Homeland Security and later as the Acting Director of Strategic Communications for the U.S. Border Patrol.

In Jan. 2023, Chapa returned to the Valley to rejoin the RGV Sector Border Patrol as the Communications Director and served in an acting role as Division Chief of Mission Readiness Operations Directorate, where she oversaw policy, human resources, logistics, labor relations, and training until July 2023, when she was named the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Lone Star National Bank.

“I would define my career as a journey of continuous learning, growth, and meaningful contributions,” Chapa said. “If given the chance to start over, I would undoubtedly choose a career in media again.”

Amid her success in her career and family life, Chapa recognizes that some young girls may be searching for a positive role model or considering a future in media or journalism.

Chapa said the world needs young women who are fearless, resilient, curious, and passionate storytellers who aren’t afraid to tell the truth.

“My dad never tired of reminding me, ‘Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres – Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are,’” she said. “Don’t expect to be inspired every day and keep in mind that with every experience, whether a success or a challenge, there is an opportunity for growth.”

 

Bryan Kirk