The Texas Exes’ Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program
Some partnerships just make sense.
There are no limits to what young people in the Rio Grande Valley can achieve when they commit themselves to excellence. Recognizing this, community leaders in the Valley have joined forces with The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Exes so that some of the region’s highest achievers can fulfill their dreams at the state’s premier public university.
UT Austin appreciates the essential role the Rio Grande Valley plays in contributing to the best student body possible, with a diverse mix reflecting the state’s growing population. Valley residents support this goal as well but know that finances can oftentimes stand in the way of even their highest achievers.
Thus the shared commitment to fund scholarships that will bring some of the Valley’s brightest lights to UT Austin: students like Rancho Viejo’s Brenden McDonough, who follows Alejandra Guerrero (Roma High School) and Christine Nott (Harlingen High School South) as the third recipient of the Rio Grande Valley Scholarship.
Brenden is a 2014 graduate of Los Fresnos High School, where he ranked among the top in his class. A National Hispanic Scholar and varsity track athlete, he led a program at the school that prepares students for careers in business. Now, thanks to the Rio Grande Valley Scholarship, he is carrying that same passion with him to UT Austin, where he has chosen to double major in accounting and finance in the Business Honors Program.
“The RGV Scholarship has been an unbelievable source of financial support, for me and for my family,” Brenden says. “I feel truly blessed, as this has helped make my dream of attending UT Austin a reality. It has not only provided financial assistance but also unbelievable connections with the Texas Exes and their unparalleled alumni network. This has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever grateful.”
Why we support this important program.
“The transition from leaving my family and close-knit McAllen community and stepping foot on the vast Forty Acres was a challenge at first,” says Annie Holand Miller, BA ’99, JD ’04. “But after I got settled, there was no place I would have rather been and it changed my life forever.
“This program helps bridge the gap between the Valley and The University of Texas at Austin,” says the former UT student-body president, “particularly for students and their families who never thought it possible to attend UT.”
Dr. Nolan E. Perez, BA ’93, a Valley native who lives and practices medicine in Harlingen, agrees. “The time is now for those of us who have been fortunate enough to make this journey before,” he says. “It is our time to help ensure that future generations of the best and brightest Valley graduates have the opportunity to attend our state’s premier institution.
“One of the most important features of these scholarships is their renewability. So many times, students head off to college with plenty of scholarship support and aid for their first year, but there’s little financial assistance to help them finish. The RGV Scholars Program creates an opportunity for financial support throughout a student’s educational career at UT.”
How can you help?
Invest in the endowment that will permanently endow the Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program and make a college education possible for some of the Valley’s most deserving students. The program offers $10,000 annual awards, renewable for four years, to Valley residents who, like Brenden, demonstrate financial need and excellence in academics, leadership, and community service. Scholars are chosen by alumni and friends who are community leaders from the Upper, Mid, and Lower Rio Grande Valley.
“We love that this scholarship is giving top students from the Valley the last financial piece of the puzzle to allow them to come to UT,” says Patrick Rodriguez, BS ’93, who serves on the scholarship steering committee. “Brenden is incredibly bright, ambitious, humble, and motivated.”
So far, more than 200 donors have contributed a collective $500,000 — in gifts ranging from $20 to $125,000 — toward a total endowment goal of $600,000. When completely funded, the program will permanently support scholarships for three students each year. While generous outright gifts funded the scholarships for the program’s first two recipients, Brenden is the first RGV Scholar to receive endowment proceeds. Once the $600,000 goal is attained, all future awards will have the stability of endowed funding.
In Memoriam: Lisa Garcia
Valley native Lisa Garcia, BBA ’87, was a successful and dynamic attorney with a strong history of dedicated public service. She was a passionate alumna of UT Austin, serving on its Development Board and on the selection committee for the RGV Scholars Program.
Upon her untimely passing in 2013, Lisa’s friends and family came together to raise $200,000 to name one of the three RGV Scholarships in her memory. The Elizabeth “Lisa” M. Garcia Rio Grande Valley Scholarship will be awarded each year in perpetuity.
Together, The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Exes, and the Rio Grande Valley are sending deserving Valley youth to one of the nation’s finest universities. We are helping them realize their full potential, and by doing so we are also helping to enrich and enhance the communities they represent.
To make a gift to the Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program now, visit UT’s online giving form. For instructions on making a gift of stocks or mutual funds, matching gifts, or for additional information about the program, please contact Wendy Anderson at 512-232-2300, or Audra Pineda Strubbe at 512-471-4116.
You may also wish to consider making a recurring or sustaining monthly donation, which will provide ongoing support to bring the best Valley students to the university. With a recurring gift you can pay out a pledge over a selected number of months or years. A sustaining gift will repeat monthly or yearly until you decide to stop it. Visit the online giving form and select “Recurring Gift” or “Sustaining Gift,” or call 800-687-4602 to set up your gift by phone.