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From Strong to Stronger

Mendoza breakfast celebrates ties with Hispanic community

Relations between Kansas City’s university and the city’s Hispanic community are as strong as they have ever been – and need to become stronger still.

That will ensure that the university will continue to serve, and the community will continue to leverage the talents of, the growing Hispanic population of the region.

That was the message delivered at the fifth annual Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast this week at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Access and Equity. The breakfast is a fundraiser for the scholarship program, which assists UMKC Latino/Latina students.

Jean Paul Chaurand, who delivered the keynote address, said that the relationship between UMKC and the Hispanic community has been “outstanding,” but the rapid growth of the community means that “now, more than ever, we need to expand that relationship.” Chaurand is chief operating officer of Guadalupe Inc., responsible for overseeing the operations of the Guadalupe Centers Inc. and the Guadalupe Education System. Chaurand previously served as senior vice president of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Chaurand has earned two degrees at UMKC, and is a member of the university’s Hispanic Advisory Board. He praised the university for its commitment to community service through programs such as the advisory board, the Mendoza scholarship program, the Latino/Latina Student Association, the interdisciplinary Latina/Latino Studies program led by Dr. Miguel Carranza, and Avanzando, a community mentoring program for recipients of the Mendoza and Hispanic Development Fund scholarships.

“UMKC has truly embraced our culture, and we should applaud the university for these accomplishments,” he said.  Going forward, he recommended that the university create Latino representation on the university board of trustees and other boards; increase efforts to recruit and retain Latino advisors and faculty; and explore ways to provide assistance to undocumented students.

In turn, he said, members of the Hispanic community should “support the university at every opportunity” by contributing to The Campaign for UMKC, “showing up at events, and not just Hispanic events” and wearing UMKC branded clothing with pride.

“Speak highly of the university in your circles, locally, regionally and nationally,” Chaurand added. “Inaction on our part is not an option.”

The breakfast is named in honor of Agapito Mendoza, Ph.D., who served as UMKC Vice Provost for Affirmative Action from 1986-2002. He died in 2003. Chancellor Leo E. Morton offered a tribute to the late Dr. Mendoza at the event.

Morton cited “one of Dr. Mendoza’s most closely-held beliefs – that scholarships like this demonstrate to Hispanic students that this is a place where you are valued and respected.”

“We want to paint a picture of Augie Mendoza that reflects his generosity and basic humanity,” Morton added. “He wanted to have a positive influence on students’ social and academic activities, so he reached out to them with kindness and caring.”


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