A Night of Gratitude

Photo credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Avanzando Has Many Reasons to Celebrate

The Avanzando Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City recently held its spring reception and, among its numerous reasons for a celebration, one is positioned high on the list. The program will graduate its first student cohort.

In 2011, when the program was established, 27 students participated. The six students who entered the program as freshmen four years ago will graduate in May. They are:

  • Christopher Estrada, Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Alexander Giraldo, Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering
  • Jose Lopez, Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering
  • Susana Ozaeta, Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education
  • Alexandra Padilla, Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies
  • Sara Trompeter, Bachelor of Science, Biology with chemistry minor

A total of 19 scholars will graduate in May, and currently sixty-six students participate in the program.

“This is a night of gratitude, and we are here to recognize the significant contributions Avanzando Scholars make to our campus and community in the areas of leadership, scholarship and service,” said Marji Datwyler, director of the Avanzando Program. “And, I would like to share some exciting news. In October 2014, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion received a gift from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Trustee Donor-Advised Fund, which provides for three Avanzando initiatives.

“We are able to continue offering a five-day Summer Enrichment Program, designed to help students get the fall semester off to a good start,” said Datwyler. “It also provides some funding to purchase preparation materials for students who will taking graduate school entrance examinations, such as GRE and MCAT. Lastly, the Kellogg Grant has allowed us to continue the Avanzando Research Scholar Initiative,” concluded Datwyler.

For the second year, several of the Avanzando scholars presented their research projects at the reception, and the grant will allow additional students to participate in the future.

The Avanzando scholar who gave the keynote address shared her views about the benefits of hard work and perseverance.

“English author Samuel Jackson said ‘Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.’” Reciting the quote was the way in which Susana Ozaeta began sharing the struggles she endured while studying at UMKC. She is the daughter of immigrant parents who came to the U.S. to provide “their children the opportunity to a life that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

“At age 18, I had to assume the role of head of household until I turned 21, including talking to my brother’s teachers, because my mom was undocumented,” said Ozaeta. “At 21, I could petition for my mom’s residency. I felt like I missed out on events at school and felt like I didn’t fit in.”

But once she became involved in founding the multi-cultural sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma, she knew she was in the right place. Ozaeta always wanted to be a teacher, and she didn’t give up. She will start teaching sixth graders at Gladstone Elementary in the fall of 2015.

“Most people are scared of sixth graders, and I’m no different,” said Ozaeta. “But the students will be my inspiration. I know this is a great opportunity for me.”

And yet another first and cause for celebration – alumnus Andres Rivera Hurtado addressed the Avanzando scholars. Rivera graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2014 and is now an analyst in facilities management at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

“First, congratulations to the Class of 2015. I would like to share some insights and tips as you transition into the real world,” said Rivera. “Persevere, no matter what. The obstacles that you face will help prepare you for what’s to come. And, lean on those around you as they can help lead you on your journey,” said Rivera.

Rivera added a few more words of inspiration to the students, including find a job that meets your needs, not your wants; maintain a relationship with your professors; be involved in your workplace and assume different roles; and be motivated each day.

“Give back to the Hispanic community and remember that learning and education never stop,” said Rivera.

The remaining 2015 graduates are:

Sarah Bustamante
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Veronica Pizano Cerritos
Bachelor of Science, Nursing; and Bachelor of Arts, Spanish

Andres Chaurand
Bachelor of Arts, Spanish with Business minor

Danielle (Dani) Coronado
Bachelor of Arts, Education and Studio Art with Mathematics minor

Sixto Diaz
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering

Daniel (DJ) Ferman
Bachelor of Arts, Economics (Dec. 2014)

Samantha Gonzales
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology with Spanish minor

Jade Hernandez
Bachelor of Arts, Chemistry (Dec. 2014)

Christina Loya
Bachelor of Arts, History

Maura Gonzalez Miller
Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice & Criminology (Dec. 2014)

Angel Ornelas
Bachelor of Health Sciences

Monica Perez
Bachelor of Arts, Chemistry with Healing and Humanities minor

Jessica Rodas
Bachelor of Health Sciences with Political Science minor

Claritsa Santiago
Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education

Marisol Reyna
Bachelor of Arts, Chemistry, Spanish and Communication Studies

Sara Zapien
Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice and Criminology

Avanzando is a partnership between the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Hispanic Development Fund.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications



Tags: , , , .
  • Recent UMKC News

    $20 Million Scholarship Article in The Kansas City Star

    KC Scholars partnership also in U.S. News and World Report … Read more

    Geosciences Professor’s Research Cited in New York Times

    Fengpeng Sun co-authored study on California wildfire seasons The 2015 … Read more

    Bloch Faculty Interviewed on NBC Nightly News

    Brent Never teaches about Kansas City’s racial dividing line Never … Read more