Friends of the Library donate $100,000 to UTPA to help McAllen students finish school
Posted: 08/02/2011
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Students attending The University of Texas-Pan American who graduated from high schools in the McAllen Independent School District will have a new opportunity to receive help paying for their undergraduate education.

The Friends of the McAllen Library donated $100,000 to The University of Texas-Pan American for an endowed scholarship that will help UTPA juniors and seniors from McAllen pay for school. Pictured left to right are: Faye Cook, treasurer of the Friends of the McAllen Library; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA president; Connie Velado, president of the Friends of the Friends of the McAllen Library; and Lydia Aleman, UTPA associate vice president for University Advancement.

The Friends of the Library, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting literacy in the community, donated $100,000 to UTPA to establish the Friends of the McAllen Memorial Library Endowed Scholarship. The endowed scholarship will provide three students who graduated from one of the McAllen ISD's high schools and will enter their junior or senior year at the University financial assistance to help them finish their studies on time.

UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen called the gift "absolutely wonderful."

"It gives our students the opportunity to come here to get an education and to actually succeed with their lives," Nelsen said. "That it's going to go to children from McAllen, that's even more important to have homegrown students coming here and getting educated here. The students being produced at Nikki Rowe, at McAllen High and at McAllen Memorial are good students, we just need to give them the opportunity for higher education."

Each student is expected to receive between $1,200-$1,500 for the school year, and the scholarship will begin being made available to students in the Fall 2012 semester. The scholarship will be available to students in all areas of study.

"It is wonderful to see the Friends of the Library align their efforts with UT Pan American by making this endowed gift available to upperclassmen," said Lydia Aleman, associate vice president for University Advancement. "They in turn are helping us with graduation rates. These scholarships will provide students with the needed financial resources as they complete their education."

University administrators said they are grateful to all of its donors, including those who have contributed money for endowed scholarships, and are excited about the creation of the Friends of the Library Memorial Library Endowed Scholarship because it will go toward helping upperclassmen pay for school.

"This is so important because it's helping juniors and seniors," said Janice Odom, vice president for University Advancement. "So many of our gift scholarships - donated scholarships - are for entering freshmen; so by the time students get to the serious part of their curriculum and toward their degree, we have less scholarship funds for them; so for a lot of students that means more work, they have to go out and work some more. This is going to help students stay in school, take more hours and graduate sooner."

University officials expressed their gratitude toward the Friends group Aug. 1 during a meeting finalizing the agreement.

Members of the Friends of the Library said they wanted to help McAllen students pay for their college education, especially in light of the funding cuts many institutions of higher learning endured during the past state legislative session.

"By the time they're juniors and seniors it shows they're serious, they're really sticking to it, and we would hate to think that because of lack of funds they couldn't continue and finish," said Connie Velado, president of the Friends of the Library.

The nonprofit group's treasurer, Faye Cook, said the donation follows the mission of the Friends of the Library to promote literacy in the community.

"Now if this isn't literacy in the community I don't know what is," Cook said. "Many of our members are teachers or retired teachers, this is so endearing to them that we can provide this money to provide another student with education. We love our young people."

For more information on how to give to UTPA, contact the Office of Development at (956) 665-5301.