Hearing about the exciting experiences of traveling in space, landing on the moon and what it takes to become successful in science and technology, thousands of students from GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program) were encouraged to fulfill their dreams during Leadership Day at the Edinburg Roadrunner Baseball stadium.
Leadership Day was sponsored by the Boeing Corporation, and was part of Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology Week at The University of Texas-Pan American. The event featured various speakers who challenged students to become the next generation of scientists and astronauts to lead the 21st Century.
"We are looking at you as our leaders for the 21st Century to make things better for all the people of the world," said David O. Swain, Boeing Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology. "It's a great responsibility, but I have trust in you. All you need is patience, purpose and direction."
Retired Astronaut Captain Alan Bean also addressed students, and generated confidence in them to attain the unexpected.
"As far as we know, we are the only intellectual life form in the universe, so because of that, we have a great responsibility to explore and learn," Bean said. "I suspect that many of you are reaching for your own stars, and I assure you that they are attainable. You just have to hold on to your dreams."
Allen - a retired astronaut with an outstanding 18-year career in NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) - was involved in the Apollo program and became the fourth person to walk on the moon. In 1973 he was commander of Skylab Mission II where he lived 59 days in space.
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa - whose efforts to ensure a better education for Valley students has lead to programs such as GEAR UP - said the federal government is investing in education to make dreams come true for young Hispanics.
"You have earned the right to dream and become wonderful engineers, mathematicians, astronauts or what ever you dream," Hinojosa said. "Latino children are not just good students, they are fantastic students and each and everyone of you is college material."
During the presentation, Boeing presented a $50,000 check to UT Pan American for 15 student scholarships. The donation was a commitment from the company to help students have an opportunity to receive a college education.
"Contributions given to The University of Texas-Pan American will ensure success for all our students," said Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs. "Boeing has been a great supporter of our University, and we are thankful for the relationship we have with them."
Also attending the presentations were Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa; Hidalgo County Judge-Elect Ramon Garcia; Sylvia Hatton, director of Region One; and various Boeing representatives.