The University of Texas-Pan American was host to Robert and Margaret McAllen on May 11 for a luncheon honoring the couple. Robert set up a scholarship fund in his wife's name, making them both prominent UTPA donors.
The Margaret Looney McAllen Scholarship was a gift to McAllen to commemorate her long time service and commitment to UTPA and education in South Texas.
"The love for my wife and my appreciation for her interest in education prompted me to honor her in this way," Robert said.
The scholarship, however, has served to be a gift to students as well. It serves graduate students who demonstrate high academic achievement and financial need. The money received from this scholarship helps pay for tuition and books. Preference is given to students who are pursuing their master's degrees in counseling and educational leadership.
"Paying for college tuition is a never-ending battle for students, so many struggle to receive a higher education because of lack of financial resources," said Lydia Aleman associate vice president for University Advancement. "Any form of support tremendously impacts our students positively."
The luncheon was arranged to give the McAllens an opportunity to see how they are making a difference at UTPA and to give recipients the time to personally thank them.
"This is a time for students to share who they are and what they have accomplished with the help of their donors," Aleman said.
Graduate student Marti Flores, a recipient of the scholarship, is pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership with a specialty in research. She agrees the money has assisted her with financial struggles and has allowed her to take more doctoral classes, which will lead to a quicker graduation.
"I am the only bread winner in the family so getting this scholarship has lessened the financial burden," Flores said. "It means so much to know that someone out there cares about education and believes in us."
Idalia Nuñez, who attended the luncheon, graduated from UTPA in May 2009 with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies and a minor in bilingual education.
"I am thankful for a similar scholarship I was provided. It opened doors of opportunities for me and helped with my financial struggles as a student," Nuñez said. "It was an honor to meet giving people like the McAllens whose contributions help students in dire need of financial assistance."
The couple was satisfied to know that the designed purpose of the scholarship is being well met and was impressed to see how the students have clearly defined goals.
"We could not have envisioned finer or more worthy students to receive this scholarship," Margaret said. "It was a memorable experience."
Yvette Padilla, director of stewardship and annual giving, has enhanced UTPA and development office stewardship efforts by providing students and donors the opportunity to say thank you.
"A consistent and thorough stewardship communication plan is important to the University as we increase communication with our donors," Padilla said.
In spring 2010, the Development Office plans to host a luncheon for all UTPA donors and scholarship recipients.
For more information, contact Padilla at 956/384-5070.