Recipients of a new scholarship thanked donors Thursday at The University of Texas-Pan American and promised their money was "well invested" after University officials announced they had reached their $60,000 goal.
The UTPA Foundation matched an initial investment of $30,000 from the Valley Alliance of Mentors and Scholarships (VAMOS) after the McAllen Medical Center Foundation agreed to donate $15,000 annually to the fund.
Other donors include: Don Kurth of Alps Automotive, Ticona/Celanese, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Maxie Carpenter, Guerra Brothers, Felix Martinez, Joe Phillips, Karen Kilgore and Louella Russell.
The fund will allow Valley Scholars to complete their baccalaureate degree at UTPA after transferring from South Texas Community College.
"I take great pride in meeting VAMOS' challenge in such a short time," said UTPA Foundation Chairman Roy Martinez. "The response to this program has been great, and this is not the end of the story but just the beginning."
VAMOS and the UTPA Foundation each has committed $30,000 annually to award $60,000 in scholarships for up to 20 transfer students through the UTPA/VAMOS Valley Scholars program.
Biology major Belinda Cerda and two classmates - education major Yvonne Benavides and mechanical engineering major Cecilia Gonzalez - said they were pleased to be among the first recipients of the scholarship.
"On behalf of all the recipients, I want to thank VAMOS, STCC, UTPA and everyone who sponsors us," Cerda said. "I and the other scholarship recipients will prove that your money is well invested."
The UTPA/VAMOS Valley Scholars program will enhance the partnership between STCC and the University, said Roland S. Arriola, UTPA vice president for External Affairs.
"We're really expanding and strengthening the great relationship between the college and the University," said Arriola. "This program is just another part of that relationship, and we envision it growing substantially as more and more STCC Valley Scholars graduate."
Also on hand were McAllen Mayor Leo Montalvo, John Schrock Sr. and Harold Siglar of the McAllen Medical Center Foundation, STCC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STCC Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dr. Ramiro Casso, VAMOS Board of Directors Vice President Sonia Falcon, and VAMOS Board Member Paul Rodriguez.
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.
"This is another very important partnership between UTPA and STCC," said Reed. "Students who have a scholarship for the first two years sometimes find it difficult to get a scholarship for their junior and senior years. That's why it is critical Pan Am partner with the community college so these students can go on and have a scholarship for their entire four years."
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.
"As proud as we are of the donations and contributions we've made, the thing we are most proud of is our students," said Falcon. "I want them to keep up the good work and stay with it. If you have brothers and sisters, I also would encourage them to focus on their education and apply for this scholarship."