University President Cynthia Teniente-Matson and Dr. Jesse Pisors, Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations, announced a $2.1 million grant from the Hector and Gloria López Foundation along with CEO Sergio Rodriguez on July 6 in the Vista Room.
The grant will be used to create the López Scholars program, which promises full tuition, fees, meals, textbooks, housing, transportation, and childcare for up to five years.
The Hector and Gloria López Foundation is devoted to funding post-secondary education to Latino students in Texas. According to President Matson, this is the second-largest gift in university history, behind the Mays Family Foundation’s gift of $5 million in 2017 to create the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement.
There is no application for the López Scholars program; recipients will be chosen at random, Rodriguez said. Eligible students are Latinos with financial needs who will be the first in their families to graduate from college.
The first cohort of López Scholars, which will consist of 15 students, will be launched this fall.
The foundation’s creators, Hector and Gloria López, were very involved in politics and education in their South Texas town of Alice, where they made a vast fortune from their cattle business and smart investments in oil and gas.
They left all of their assets to the foundation, and they left the foundation to Rodriguez, their nephew.
Matson called the contribution a “monumental gift,” one that supports the school’s core value to be a catalyst for opportunity, especially for Latino students.
Biology junior Yirha Navarrete, 20, was born in Mexico and moved to Austin when she was 6 years old. Navarrete said college didn’t seem realistic for her because of her background, but that dream is now possible because of people like Rodriguez and the programs he is helping to create.
“I don’t have any family [in the United States] except my parents,” Navarrete said. “But I’ve realized I’m not alone…the university is your family, the people giving out scholarships are your family, other Latino students are your family.”
A&M regent Elaine Mendoza praised Rodriguez for his effort in continuing his aunt and uncle’s vision for Latinos in higher education.
“This foundation serves as a model across this country for what is possible,” Mendoza said. “Thank you for entrusting us with this incredible gift. We will not let you down.”