Returning to school just got a little easier for those who are wanting to finish their studies and earn their degrees.
The University of Texas-Pan American received a fully funded gift endowment in the amount of $20,000 from the National Hispanic Professional Organization (NHPO). A gift presentation was held Oct. 2 at the International Trade and Technology (ITT)-International Room.
The scholarship is for "stop-out" students, or students who stopped attending UTPA because of the lack of finances or other reasons and want to return to school to finish their degrees.
This is the first endowment gift from NHPO and the first to benefit "stop out" students.
"We wanted to focus on the people who have struggled, who started school, who have 60 hours or so and want to come back. That's who our target is," said Jesse De Leon, chairman of NHPO-Rio Grande Valley chapter. "We realize that education is the key to success. I think education is what gets people out of poverty. That's the way we see it so we want to help those people."
NHPO is a nonprofit professional and collegiate-based organization that provides members with career opportunities, professional development and leadership training. Its members consist of teachers, lawyers, business owners and professionals.
"Many students, at times, face hardships that preclude them from continuing their academic work and have to leave the university and then return later when their situation gets better. This endowment gives them a second chance to finish something they started," said Lydia Aleman, associate vice president for University Advancement.
As a champion for professional growth, NHPO has gained attention and recognition for their approach and commitment to education.
"Education is the cornerstone of any society. For us to succeed as a community and as a country, and the fact that in the next 35-40 years, one out of four people will be Hispanic, we need to make sure that we educate our community and that we are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow," said J.R. Gonzales, the national NHPO president.
Financial aid opportunities like the NHPO endowed scholarship many times is the deciding factor for a student to return to school said UTPA president Robert S. Nelsen.
Nelsen said he is really pleased with NHPO's gift and believes it will benefit those students who have great financial need.
"We give scholarships to our freshmen and to our transfer students, but I think we forget about the students who drop out," said Nelsen. "Maybe they had to help at home or maybe there was a death in their family. This is wonderful. It is a chance to be able to help and be there for students who need help the most."
To qualify, students must:
• be "stop out" students, students who stopped attending UTPA without finishing, and would like to return
• complete at least 60 hours
• have a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average
• demonstrate financial need, as determined by the Office of Student Financial Services
• be from one of the four counties of the Rio Grande Valley (Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy or Cameron)
The scholarship is open to all disciplines offered by UTPA. To remain eligible for the scholarship, recipients must continue to meet all the stated criteria.
"NHPO has stepped up to the plate," Nelsen said. "They are about leadership and they are very upfront about it. We need the next generation of leaders and they are doing it. Others should be willing to do the same thing. Step up, find a cause and celebrate the cause."
For more information, contact Aleman at (956) 665-2337.