The Coca-Cola Foundation presented The University of Texas-Pan American with $50,000 for its University Scholars Program Friday, June 29 at the International Trade and Technology Building.
The University Scholars Program provides full four-year tuition and fee scholarships to qualified incoming freshmen. High school students must earn a "4" average in 12 hours of Advanced Placement (AP) credit in high school or have a "4" average in six hours of AP credit and a minimum ACT composite score of 24 or minimum SAT score of 1110.
"Coca-Cola has always supported education," said David Sords, director of Public Affairs for the Coca-Cola Enterprises/Western North America Group. "We are very committed to education and very committed to our youth and making sure they have an opportunity to succeed."
Joining Sords at the morning news conference were Kyle Yeary, Valley Coca-Cola Bottling Company; Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services; Jim Langabeer, vice president for Business Affairs; Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs; and several University Scholars scholarship recipients.
"The University Scholars Program allowed me to expand my knowledge and character," said Piero Vallarino, junior nursing and philosophy double major and scholarship recipient. The McAllen resident is the first in his family to attend a higher education institution.
The University Scholars Program began in 1998 to promote academic excellence in high schools. In its first year, only 19 students qualified. Today, more than 200 students are expected to enroll.
"What a winning combination this is for UTPA, families in the region and Coca-Cola," Edwards said.
In fact, UTPA is sixth in the state in the acceptance of AP credit for entering students and is second in The University of Texas System to The University of Texas at Austin.
Coca-Cola and Valley Coca-Coca Bottling have supported UTPA programs and events for more than 10 years. Since 1990, the Coca-Cola Foundation has contributed more than $100 million to educational institutions.
"We're extremely pleased to continue our long partnership with The University of Texas-Pan American because Coca-Cola believes that one of the best ways to support our local community is to support education," Yeary said. "We're especially excited because the program has been so successful in encouraging academic achievement and in providing greater educational opportunities for deserving students."