The Rudy Acosta Student Pavilion will be modernized and relocated to a new location on the Odessa College campus as a part of the college’s Vision 2030+ strategic plan. As part of that plan, the new $40 million, state-of-the-art Wood Health Sciences Building will be constructed on the site currently occupied by the pavilion and Travis Hall.
Once it is constructed at its new location, the Rudy Acosta Student Pavilion will resume its function as an outdoor space for celebrations, dances, meetings, concerts, as well as providing a daily social gathering location for early college high school students and OC students, a news release said.
Acosta died on Feb. 18, 2008, at age 43 in Austin and was buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Odessa.
The pavilion was donated to Odessa College by anonymous donors and was dedicated in 2008 in honor of Acosta, former OC student and graduate. Then in 2015, family members established the half-million-dollar Rudy Acosta Endowment in his name to make it possible for many Odessa College students to earn their college degrees, the release said.
The release said Raul “Rudy” Acosta was an amazing young man with a spirit that inspired many throughout his life. Though his years were limited, the impact of his life certainly was not. Rudy inspired everyone with whom he came in contact, and he had the rare capacity to help people who had, as he said, “real problems.”
His life story was both amazing and inspiring, especially to any student struggling to attend college to achieve his or her dreams. Rudy’s dream was to earn a college degree so that he could better assist individuals with disabilities, the release said.
Afflicted with Werdnig-Hoffman’s disease, a rare and severe form of muscular dystrophy, Acosta was totally paralyzed and bedridden. Unable to use a wheelchair, he relied on a customized gurney to get around. Due to his complex needs, he lived in a series of nursing homes and facilities from age 12 until age 30, when he finally received services and support to move into his own apartment in Lubbock.
Born November 25, 1964, in Presidio, he was raised in Odessa. Educated through the ECISD homebound program, he graduated from Permian High School in 1984. He attended Odessa College and discovered he had the capability to successfully do college level work.
One OC math professor went regularly to Acosta’s room at the nursing home to teach him college algebra, geometry and trigonometry. The professor’s only request was that a moveable white board be installed on the wall in Rudy’s room so that Rudy could see what the professor was writing. As a result of his determination coupled with the dedication and commitment of the OC faculty and staff, Acosta completed his course requirements and received his associate of arts degree in May 1990.
He then entered the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, later transferring to Texas Tech University, where, in December 1998, he received his diploma as his classmates gave him a standing ovation.
Eighteen years of institutional confinement left an indelible mark on Acosta, and he devoted the rest of his life to a passionate and powerful campaign to create community alternatives to nursing homes and state institutions. He built a big, strong network of friends and became a vocal and effective advocate for community living, also developing strong ties with others in the disability community.
His hard work was publicly recognized in 2000 when then-Gov. George W. Bush appointed him to the Texas Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities. Acosta also served as a member of the board of directors of Advocacy, Inc. until the time of his death.