To celebrate the selection of UT Pan American President Robert S. Nelsen as this year's recipient of the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Golden Eagle Award, the International Women's Board (IWB), an arm of the UTPA Foundation, gathered Feb. 18 to honor Nelsen with a contribution to the Robert Seth Nelsen Emergency Assistance Endowment.
The Golden Eagle Award is a prestigious award given annually to a person who has made tremendous contributions to education and the Rio Grande Valley community. IWB President Laurie Lozano said the board chose a contribution to his endowment as the best way to congratulate him and highlight his achievements.
"He is a wonderful supporter of the International Women's Board and the community and all the students. He has impacted the Valley tremendously," she said. "President Nelsen always continues to inspire us."
Created to honor the late son of the President and his wife Jody, the endowment supports students by covering emergency expenses that might prevent a student from graduating, like a fine or a late fee or book as well as other unexpected expenses they might not be able to pay. Requests for assistance through the endowment are overseen by the Office of Student Affairs.
Nelsen described the endowment as one for students with special needs.
"Something may have gone wrong for them and they are not going to be able to pay for something - it may be a car that broke down, it may be surgery or a doctor's visit. This year, for example, we were able to place a senior about to graduate in a dorm. She had been living in a car after her employment and housing as a nanny ended when her employer moved back to Mexico," Nelsen said. "It helped her to be able to finish her education."
Nelsen thanked the IWB and praised them for raising more than $70,000 in 2013 for travel abroad scholarships for students, an amount that was matched by the UTPA Foundation Board.
"Traveling abroad can change your life when you get into a new world, in a new experience like that. And you have made that possible," he said.
Nelsen also gave them an update on the progress of the new University - UTRGV - and the new medical school. "We are going to have to grow and grow and grow to be able to serve this Valley and we will do it because of friends like you," he said.
Vice President for University Advancement Veronica Gonzales also thanked the IWB for their support for the endowment and scholarships.
"Endowments will last forever and the outright scholarships you provide today are critical because there are so many students who would like the opportunity to see the world who have never left the Valley," she said. "We need the support of the community to help us grow more opportunities for our students."
Learn more about the IWB at The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation Board website. To learn more about how you can support the University and its students, go to the Office of Development website or contact the Development Office at (956) 665-5301.