A dream fulfilled

Agapito Mendoza Scholarship has succeeded

Freshman Larry Hernandez smiled shyly as he received a standing ovation for his cello performance of “Prelude from Solo Cello Suite in G major” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Can you imagine what he will do later in his career?” asked Idaima Calderon, student host at the Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast.

Latina/Latino students like Larry and Idaima have a great opportunity to attend college thanks to Dr. Agapito Mendoza’s dream – to attract more Hispanic students and see them through to graduation.

The Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was established to make that dream a reality. The funds raised provide scholarships for Latina/Latino students attending UMKC.

“Augie was a ball of fire. He wanted to bring more Latino students to campus,” said Carlos Salazar.

Salazar is a UMKC alumnus, past chairman of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Hispanic Advisory Council and Vice President of Community Engagement at the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

According to Salazar, UMKC’s commitment to Latino students, the Latina/Latino Studies Program, the Hispanic Advisory Council and the Avanzando program – to name a few – have contributed to an increase of 5-10 percent in Latino students who chose UMKC.

At the recent Sixth Annual Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast in honor of the late Vice Provost, students shared their stories and the impact the scholarships, support and opportunities had on them.

Calderon, vice president of the Association of Latin American Students and a pre-med major, said that she was uncertain about what to expect or even what to do when she arrived.

“As the first member of my family to attend college in the United States, I found my way because of the Avanzando program and through serving my community,” said Calderon. “I volunteered at free health screening fairs, served as an interpreter for those who needed assistance and helped community members sign up for the Affordable Care Act. I now realize how I can serve once I become a doctor.”

Senior Elizabeth Herrera came to UMKC to study broadcasting – to be a local reporter. She changed her career focus after becoming a tutor.

“Through Avanzando, I began tutoring students in English, social studies and foreign languages – both French and Spanish – at Alta Vista Middle School. I loved it, and I made a difference. My major is now education; I want to become a teacher,” said Herrera.

Sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, approximately 200 campus and community members attended the breakfast.

“We want you to see firsthand how scholarships like this one have the potential to make a big difference in someone’s life,” said Anne Spenner, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Marketing and Communications. “You bring experiences, values and ideas that others will learn from you.

“Augie Mendoza’s family was the heart and soul of his life, and we are grateful to them for the support they have given to this cause. And to our other supporters and donors, on behalf of UMKC, thank you again for making the Agapito Mendoza scholarships possible,” Spenner added.

The Mendoza Fund provides annually renewable $500 scholarships for tuition, books and housing for Latina/Latino students. This academic year, UMKC has awarded about $15,000 in Mendoza funds to 30 students and contributed more than $66,000 through the UMKC Hispanic Scholarship match for 34 students.

When the UMKC and the Hispanic Development Fund contributions are added, the total in scholarships for Latino students for the 2013-14 academic year was more than $100,000, which supported 64 scholarships.


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