On July 6, Texas A&M University-San Antonio celebrated a gift from the Hector and Gloria López Foundation with an official unveiling. The López Foundation presented a check for $2.1 million to the Texas A&M-San Antonio Foundation to benefit 15 Latino students who will be known as López Scholars. The gift marks the second largest in A&M-SA history.
The special event featured speakers Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of A&M-SA; Dr. Jesse Pisors, A&M-SA vice president of university relations and advancement; Sergio Rodriguez, López Foundation chief executive officer; Elaine Mendoza, Texas A&M System Board of Regents; Dr. Sandi Wolff, Texas A&M-San Antonio Foundation; and two current A&M-SA students. Also in attendance were members of the López Foundation and Dr. James Hallmark, Texas A&M University System vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“The gift represents a unique and powerful partnership between two institutions for whom providing opportunities through education to Latinos is at the core of their mission,” said Dr. Teniente-Matson. “It will provide a life-changing investment in a 15-student cohort beginning in the Fall of 2022 and ensure full tuition, fees, textbooks, housing, transportation and even childcare costs for up to five years.”
The grant will fund remaining tuition and fees, after Federal Pell Grants and all other financial support for which the López Scholar is eligible, as well as wraparound support services, including mentoring, tutoring, paid internships, leadership development and much more.
“We our Latino founded. We are Latino led. And we are 100% Latino focused in our giving,” said Rodríguez. “The foundation, Hector and Gloria’s legacy, is committed to ensuring that we will do our part to help Latino students cross the stage, accept their diplomas and create opportunities for economic growth that will make Texas a better place to live.”
The López Scholars will be selected randomly, by the Texas A&M-San Antonio Foundation, meaning there is no application, no minimum GPA, and no SAT/ACT score requirements. The Foundation has selected five regions where it will focus its investments, including San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
“The López Foundation is committed to providing what many Latinos in Texas have not had – an opportunity to pursue their dreams, earning a degree and changing the economics of their families forever,” said Mendoza.
Students Yirha Navarette, a sophomore biology major, and Marcus Garcia, a junior computer information systems major, shared about their families and their journey as students.
“I always knew when I was a little child that I wanted to go to college,” said Garcia. “My parents are first generation. My dad always said ‘go to college’ because that was the way he changed his life for the better. It is opportunities like this that has changed his life. And it’s opportunities like this that have changed my life.”
Hector and Gloria López, now deceased, left their accumulated land and financial assets to the Foundation in 2021 with a mission to support post-secondary education for Latino students who are the first in their families to graduate from a college or university and have demonstrated financial need. Their legacy stems from their business efforts and community involvement in Alice, Texas, where they led the GALO Cattle Company; Hector focused on the law and Gloria focused on the finances. Their partnership spanned more than 60 years.
“I am very lucky because not only am I here representing the Texas-A&M-San Antonio Foundation, but I also work for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the oldest and largest Hispanic chamber in the country, and 80% of our members are small, family-owned businesses, very much like Gloria and Hector López when they started their business,” said Wolff. “The Hector and Gloria Foundation is a beautiful example of not only what it means to grow your business, but to give back and one day be in a position to also pay it forward.”