Mission is Alive and Well

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

Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Fund reflects his humanity

Agapito Mendoza wanted all students to graduate from college. Each year, community members and students personify his dream. Its impact is powerful, bringing value to the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus and the Kansas City community.

The Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Fund at UMKC was established to make Mendoza’s vision a reality. The funds raised provide scholarships for Latina/Latino students attending UMKC.

When extending a welcome to the more than 275 guests at the Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast, UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton gave a recap of what to expect at the event – food, generosity of donors and the stories about the students who have been impacted by Mendoza.

“In honor of the late Dr. Agapito Mendoza, we come together to carry on his work, reaching out to students and offering help. We want to illustrate how scholarships like this one have the potential to make a big difference in someone’s life,” said Morton.

“Students, you have a place in a historic chain. You bring experiences, values and ideas that others will learn from you. Without you, our academic and cultural lives would become flat and colorless.”

Throughout the fundraising event, speakers provided a testament to Mendoza’s beliefs, his dreams and his work.

Adriana Pecina, a well-known advocate for academic achievement, civic engagement, community development and health equity, shared her story of life in Kansas City, her education, her career and her encounter with Mendoza.

“I read about Agapito Mendoza’s hiring while I was a student at UMKC. When I first met him, he referred to me as a Chicana, and I was offended,” said Pecina. “He explained the origin of the term – to embrace your indigenous and American roots. He disarmed me, and I am now proud of my Mexican and American roots,” concluded Pecina.

Quotes about Mendoza were freely shared –

“I, like Mr. Mendoza, want to make others feel special and appreciated,” said Claritsa Santiago, and UMKC elementary education scholar.

“Mendoza was an inspiration to everyone, regardless of their race,” said Christopher Estrada, UMKC business administration scholar.

Carlos Salazar, vice president of community engagement for the United Way, an UMKC alumnus and chair of the UMKC Hispanic Advisory Council, provided data to substantiate the progress that is evident on the campus.

Because of Augie Mendoza, “we host high school soccer games at the Stanley H. Durwood Soccer Stadium and Recreational Field; we have a Latina/Latino Studies Program; we created a memorandum of understanding with the university; and we have the UMKC Avanzando Program,” said Salazar.

He continued to list the progress the Hispanic community has seen. Some of the best developments – a 5 percent Latina/Latino retention rate overall, with 8 percent in the undergraduate population; a total of 822 students on campus in 2014 compared to 585 in 2010; and, for those engaged in the Avanzando Program, there is a 90 percent retention rate.”

The testimonies and the data speak well for Mendoza, a professor of education and vice provost for affirmative action and academic personnel, who had high hopes for all students.

They are verification of Agapito Mendoza’s dream.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications


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