VAMOS and UTPA Foundation collaborate on $2 million scholarship program for South Texas students
Contact: Melissa Vasquez 956/381-2741
Posted: 07/10/2008
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The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation (UTPAF) and the Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS) announced today they will team up to establish a $2 million Matching Endowed Scholarship Program for graduating Hidalgo County high school seniors planning to attend UTPA.

The VAMOS Board of Trustees will contribute $1 million in endowment funds over a five-year period to the University, which the UTPA Foundation will generously match to create the VAMOS/UTPAF Endowed Scholarship Program. The restricted scholarship program will be funded jointly on an equal basis by UTPAF and VAMOS and administered by the UTPA Foundation.

The UTPA Foundation and VAMOS announced at a press conference July 10 that they will partner to create the VAMOS/UTPAF Endowed Scholarship Program. VAMOS donated $1 million to the UTPA Foundation to kick off the program, and the University Foundation matched the funds. Pictured center holding the check at left are Sonia Falcon, VAMOS president; Alonzo Cantu, VAMOS chairman emeritus and UTPA Foundation board member; and Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, UTPA president. Standing left are Rodrigo Reyna, VAMOS board member; Lydia P. Aleman, UTPA University Advancement executive director; David Deanda, VAMOS board member; Paul Rodriguez, VAMOS board member; Bill Ellis Jr., UTPA Foundation board member; A.R. (Felo) Guerra, UTPA Foundation board member; Heather Margain, VAMOS executive director; Alma De La Garza, UTPA Foundation board member; and R. David Guerra, UTPA Foundation chair.
"We are overjoyed about the extraordinary gift VAMOS has made to our University and most of all to our students, who will be the beneficiaries of this endowment," UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said. "This scholarship program is a testament of UTPA's and VAMOS' devotion to ensure there is a university diploma hanging on the wall of every home in South Texas."

R. David Guerra, UTPA Foundation chair and International Bank of Commerce-McAllen president, said he is very proud of the joint effort with VAMOS, a quality organization he believes shares the same goals as UTPA - to help every student earn a degree, and support the future economic needs of the area.

"The Board of Directors of the UTPA Foundation are grateful for the leadership demonstrated by VAMOS and for their belief in our mission," Guerra said. "Our goal is to provide deserving students a quality and affordable education."

Since the organization began in 1996, Sonia Falcon, VAMOS president, said VAMOS applicants have selected UTPA as their university of choice. More than 39 percent of VAMOS scholarship recipients attend UTPA to date.

"We are proud of our scholarship recipients and of the work and progress that UTPA has made to make itself accessible to our recipients," Falcon said. "We hope that by establishing this endowed scholarship program future recipients will continue to make UTPA their choice to obtain a quality education. The impact of this program will not only be measured by the recipients receiving this award, but by the future generations that will also have access to this program."

Falcon said entering into the partnership with the UTPA Foundation made sense because both organizations are dedicated to helping the Rio Grande Valley and the people who live in the area succeed.

"VAMOS is a grassroots organization founded and funded here locally and we believe in supporting our local university because it supports many of our local students and provides them with a first-class education," Falcon said. " The Valley is our home and we have a strong commitment to this area and the people who live here."

Guerra said VAMOS' pledge to UTPA is not only an investment in the University, but in its students who are continuously recruited by local and national employers for their academic achievements and work ethic.

"As our region continues to grow and the demand for higher education escalates we will need more organizations like VAMOS. We encourage other institutions and individuals to consider UTPA in their giving and estate planning. There is truly no better way to change the life and fortune of an individual than by helping them receive a good education," Guerra said.

Lydia P. Aleman, executive director for the UTPA Division of University Advancement, said she is grateful for VAMOS' contributions over the years, and is especially thankful to Alonzo Cantu, VAMOS chairman emeritus and UTPA Foundation board member, and to the VAMOS Board of Trustees for their passion for higher education and support of South Texas students attending the University.

"The scholarship funding we are receiving from VAMOS today will make a big difference in the lives of students who want to make their dream of earning a college degree a reality," Aleman said.

To be eligible for the VAMOS/UTPAF Endowed Scholarship Program, the following criteria will be required: be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident (with Resident Alien Card); be an entering freshman to The University of Texas-Pan American; rank in top 25 percent of his/her graduating class; meet minimum SAT and ACT score requirements established by the University and provide proof of acceptance to the institution; and demonstrate financial need as defined jointly by UTPAF and VAMOS.

In addition, students will be evaluated based on academic achievement, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement that describes the applicant's personal and professional goals, community involvement and other factors.

The scholarships can be renewed annually based on the student maintaining a grade point average of 2.7 or better on a 4.0 scale, and remaining enrolled at UTPA on a full-time basis. The amount awarded per one student may total to $20,000 over four years. The program is expected to begin awarding scholarships in fall 2009.

For more information on the VAMOS/UTPAF Endowed Scholarship Program, contact the UTPA Division of University Advancement at 956/318-5301.

For further information regarding VAMOS, call 956/631-1273, e-mail, or visit