Students Earn Workforce Solutions Scholarships


Students Earn Workforce Solutions Scholarships


Students Earn Workforce Solutions Scholarships
Students Earn Scholarships

May 18 was a very good day for 20 college students from the El Paso area. Seventeen students from The University of Texas at El Paso, and one each from New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College and Boston University, were presented with $4,500 scholarship checks by Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande.

The $90,000 grant distributed among the recipients was the result of a job well done by Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande with funds awarded to them three years ago by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Upper Rio Grande office competed against other Workforce Solution offices in the state of Texas and won the additional money for the scholarships through excellent use of the original grant.

"The purpose of the original grant was to foster and cultivate awareness and job opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande Chief Operating Officer Teofilo Ugalde. "The success of our program has paid off for these students."

Bernadette Flores, Workforce Solutions' public relations director, said the competition was based on a number of benchmarks, such as the number of people who attended their workshops and then landed a job, and the number of youth participants enrolled in programs for mentoring, GED prep and rural students who go on to post-secondary education.

UTEP President Diana Natalicio expressed her deep appreciation to the Workforce Solutions dignitaries present at the scholarship presentation.

"Workforce Solutions of the Upper Rio Grande is the kind of partner most universities only dream of," President Natalicio said. "They are always at-the-ready to augment the needs of our students when opportunities arise — it is natural partnership."

Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering, spoke about the critical importance of the nation developing a quality STEM workforce.

"With the help of partners like Workforce Solutions providing scholarships to deserving students, UTEP will continue to produce the talent to staff that workforce," he said.

The scholarships were awarded based on financial need to students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. None of the scholars knew how much they would receive, so anticipation was high as Workforce Solutions program manager and presenter Teresa Vasquez asked recipients not to open their envelopes until all of them had been presented.

"OK, you can open them now!" Vasquez said with excitement. The room was immediately brighter as the stunned smiles of the recipients gave way to handshaking and applause.

"I was very shocked and surprised," said Desireé Martinez, a 2011 UTEP graduate taking prerequisite courses this summer at UTEP in preparation for an upcoming physician's assistant program. "I have been searching everywhere for a summer job, and this takes a huge load off my shoulders!"

Jesse Valles, a graduate student pursuing his master's degree in environmental engineering, was thrilled to receive the scholarship that will help cover his educational costs.

"This means a lot," he said. "I am very excited."

Civil engineering senior Anna Hernandez also expressed relief.

"This eliminates so much of the financial worry about where the money would come from," she said.

Perhaps just as valuable as the scholarship funds was a challenge to the recipients given by Workforce Solutions CEO Lorenzo Reyes.

"Workforce Solutions truly believes that education is the key for advancement in the STEM fields," Reyes said. "We are asking each of you today to commit to pay this forward – to remember this day and help other students that come after you."