The University of Texas-Pan American's latest recipients of the Anheuser-Busch/Ann LaMantia Endowed Scholarship for outstanding female athletes at UTPA were recognized at a September 16 luncheon at the McAllen Country Club.
Michelle Smith, senior marketing major and Julie Porter, senior kinesiology major with a minor in special education, both are Lady Bronc basketball players and first time recipients. Christina Infante, a second year recipient, is a senior marketing major and a Lady Bronc golfer.
A graduate of Lyford High School, Infante has a 3.5 grade point average. "I'm very thankful this scholarship is available for students like me who have difficulty paying for college," said Infante, who joined the golf team as a walk-on.
Like many students at UTPA, Infante worked and commuted to school. Receiving the scholarship allowed her to quit her job and concentrate on school and golf.
"UTPA's women's athletics has an excellent cumulative GPA of 3.12 and we lead many universities in the educational support provided to our players," said Dawn Price, assistant athletic director for development.
The Anheuser-Busch/Ann LaMantia Endowed Scholarship was established in 1994 and is offered to full-time UTPA female student-athletes of any classification. It covers tuition, fees and books. Athletes who apply for the scholarship are required to have a good academic record and must be nominated by their coach.
"UTPA is the only university we have a scholarship with because they are well-founded in the Valley," said Val LaMantia Peisen, advertising/public relations partner for L&F Distributors. "The scholarship was created by a federal judge about nine years ago. The scholarship was created in conjunction with Anheuser Busch and so every year we co-op it. We give money to it and then Anheuser Busch gives money to it. The scholarship goes to a UTPA female athlete with a certain grade point average. So it's a great scholarship."
The LaMantia family owns L&F Distributors. Funded by the Anheuser Busch Company and L&F Distributors of McAllen, the scholarship endowment honors the memory of Ann LaMantia, who served on the Pan American University Board of Regents from 1978 to 1983. Peisen said her mother, Ann LaMantia was a big supporter of women's athletics. She hopes this scholarship inspires female student-athletes to pursue their passion for sports and learning.
"Women athletes don't have a lot of the same chances as men in sports," Peisen said. "I think this scholarship is a good way to say 'keep going' and a good pat on the back."
To date the Anheuser-Busch/Ann LaMantia Endowed Scholarship has helped 16 women athletes and has contributed more than $27,000.
"The LaMantia Scholarship fund allows us to recognize outstanding female student-athletes for their achievements in both the classroom and in their chosen sport," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, William Weidner. "The three women we selected for the scholarship this year represent what is good about intercollegiate athletics and, as Mrs. LaMantia did for many years and her daughter, Val LaMantia Peisen, continues to do, they provide excellent role models for women throughout the Valley," he added.
With both Christina and Michelle nodding in agreement, Julie Smith said, "It is really an honor to receive the scholarship. First of all, you have to be an athlete (to qualify for the award), but it also honors those who take their studies seriously and who value education."