Dagoberto Ramirez, who is about to earn his third degree from The University of Texas-Pan American this May, credits his success in part to the generosity of donors who helped pay for his education.
Ramirez, who also earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from UTPA, said receiving scholarships helped him greatly in pursuing his career in education. The Roma native, who returned to earn his doctorate in educational leadership after working for 30 years in education, said The Margaret Looney McAllen Endowed Scholarship he received was a great help to him, as his two children were attending college the same time he was.
"I couldn't have done that without others who had gone ahead of me," Ramirez said.
On Thursday, March 28, UTPA honored about 60 benefactors during its Donor Scholarship Luncheon: Where Guiding Stars Meet Rising Stars. During the luncheon, donors met with recipients of the endowed scholarships they started and heard stories about how their contributions have helped so many students.
UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen talked about how a $100 scholarship he received allowed him to attend college and start him on his path to eventually earning his Ph.D. He added that 79 percent of the student population at UT Pan American receives financial assistance and that many of those students receive scholarships to help pay for school.
"Because of you, our guiding stars, all of these students got the chance that I got," Nelsen said.
Later in the luncheon, Nelsen and his wife Jody presented a $20,000 check to Vice President of University Advancement Veronica Gonzales to start an endowment to create an emergency fund that will help students pay for fees and other expenses they cannot afford in order to register for classes.
Yvette Padilla, director of stewardship and annual giving, said the luncheon is designed to give endowed scholarship benefactors the opportunity to give words of encouragement to the scholars and the students an opportunity to say "thank you" to the UTPA donors personally.
"The Development Office is working hard to create and foster a culture of stewardship at our university," she said. "Our benefactors continue their loyalty to The University of Texas-Pan American, and we are most grateful to each of them for their extremely generous support, which is essential to the University's future."
Donors said they appreciated having the opportunity to connect with the recipients of the endowed scholarships they started.
Margaret L. McAllen said meeting the students and hearing how her contribution has helped them "is just the icing on the cake."
"To talk to them a little while and to see how much they're going to add to the community and to their world, I just think it's the best part of doing the whole thing," McAllen said.
Paul and Florence Crissman, who started the Paul C. and Florence M. Crissman Endowed Scholarship, said they enjoy meeting with the students who have benefitted from their endowed scholarship and learning how their contribution has helped them.
"The students are very grateful and it makes me want to say, 'My pleasure,'" Florence Crissman said.
Alfredo Peña (BBA '78), who, along with his brother Jose (BBA '77) started the Dolores Galvan Canales y Nazaria Ochoa Peña Endowed Scholarship last year, said he was happy to meet the recipient of the scholarship named after their grandmothers.
"When we talked about starting the scholarship, she was (the type of student) who we had in mind," Peña said.
To learn more about how to support the advancement of The University of Texas-Pan American, contact the Office of Development at (956) 665-5301. You can also visit the Division of University Advancement website.