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Medallion Scholarship Winner Receives Proper Send-Off

Andres Alberto Valenzuela is the recipient of UTEP's 2010 Winter Commencement Medallion Scholarship. Photo: University Communication.
Andres Alberto Valenzuela

Graduation day for Andres Alberto Valenzuela, an electrical engineering major at The University of Texas at El Paso, will be extra special. In addition to receiving his bachelor’s in engineering from UTEP, Valenzuela also will be recognized during the three commencement ceremonies on Dec. 11 as the recipient of the 2010 Winter Commencement Medallion Scholarship.

“I received a call (from the scholarships office) and they said we have a scholarship available for you,” he said. “I didn’t expect that.”

Funding for academic scholarships never meets demand, so a number of accomplished students do not receive merit-based assistance. The Medallion Scholarship is given to a graduating UTEP student who applied for a scholarship as an incoming freshman but was not awarded one at the time. Valenzuela applied for a scholarship when he was a high school senior at Lydia Patterson Institute in 2006. Even though he was well qualified, he did not receive a scholarship because the demand exceeded the available funding.

Medallion Scholarship funds come from the sale of the Class Medallion, which can be purchased for $10 at the University Bookstore. Proceeds go toward the Commencement Medallion Scholarship Fund. The commemorative brass medallion may be worn at commencement and serves as a memento for each graduating class.

The tradition of the Class Medallion began in 1998 to commemorate UTEP’s 100th commencement. Since then, the medallion has been used as a symbol of class unity because commencements for the same class are held in the spring and summer.

UTEP Class of 2010 Medallion. Photo: University Communications.
UTEP Class of 2010 Medallion.
Photo: University Communications.

“Because we are a commuter school, our student body needed to feel a tie to their class,” said Alberto Lopez, assistant vice president for University Relations. “We have an individual work of art that is unique to each class."

The Commencement Medallion Scholarship Fund has raised nearly $34,000. Each semester, a student receives $500. This semester the amount has been raised to $750, which Valenzuela will use to continue his education.

“I’m planning on searching for some kind of fellowship that can help me continue with my master’s,” Valenzuela said. “I will probably use (the award) for my education. I will save it for the moment.”

In addition to his studies at UTEP, Valenzuela has been employed as a work study student with the departments of Women’s Studies and Humanities.

His goal is to work at a software company developing new technology. As part of his final project, Valenzuela and two of his classmates developed an Android application that allows users to start the engine on a vehicle, unlock its doors and set off the alarm using a cell phone.

Valenzuela is an only child, so his parents are especially looking forward to seeing him cross the graduation stage on Saturday.

“They are actually excited about it,” he said. “… It’s nice because they didn’t have the opportunity to go to a University, like I did.”

Originally posted on News @ UTEP.