Valley Scholars who have completed their two-year program at South Texas Community College and are transferring to The University of Texas-Pan American will receive financial support thanks to a new partnership unveiled Tuesday, July 25.
Beginning this fall, the Valley Alliance of Mentors and Scholarships (VAMOS) and the UTPA Foundation will each contribute $30,000 annually to provide $60,000 for up to 20 scholarships through the UTPA / VAMOS Valley Scholars program.
"This area of Texas lags behind in the number of students who graduate high school and go on to college," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevarez.
"The goal for all of us is to get more students to participate in higher education, and that's what brought us here. This is not the first time VAMOS and the UTPA Foundation have come together, either. We've had a good relationship, and we want it to continue."
Joining Nevarez for the news conference at the UTPA International Trade and Technology Building were VAMOS President Alonzo Cantu,
There also were four scholarship recipients, including Maribel Matamoros, a junior communications major.
"Without this scholarship, I probably would not be able to go to college, as I would have to work full time," said Matamoros, a 19-year-old Mission resident. "This scholarship also will motivate me and other recipients to keep our grades and academic standards high so we can continue to benefit from it."
Yvonne Benavides, a 20-year-old education major from Sullivan City, said being in the first year of the UTPA / VAMOS Valley Scholars program is special.
"I'm very thankful for an opportunity like this," Benavides said. "UTPA is close to home, and the College of Education is very strong. They do everything they can to motivate people to become teachers, and I'm looking forward to going there."
The UTPA / VAMOS Valley Scholars program will be administered through the University Scholarship Committee and the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services.
Formed in early 1995, VAMOS is comprised of local professionals dedicated to helping students attend college. It has provided scholarships to Hidalgo County high school students for their outstanding achievements and academic performance.
"We're very happy to be able to work with STCC and UT Pan Am and leverage our funds to further educate our children," said Cantu, a new UTPA Foundation board member. "Our goal at VAMOS is to improve the quality of life in South Texas, and there's no quicker way than through education. We want to continue this partnership so we can serve more students here locally."
The UTPA / VAMOS Valley Scholars program is similar to an STCC program that began in 1997. The STCC endeavor assists Hidalgo and Starr County high school graduates who are in the top 5 percent of their school's graduating class, with their tuition and fees covered by local benefactors.
"The Valley Scholar Program at STCC has helped support the education of approximately 240 students in four years," Reed said. "We are grateful for the continued support of VAMOS and UTPA and are committed to creating new opportunities for the Valley's best and brightest students."