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Sunday, May 04, 2014

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa SA, 5-4

Just a Thought: Graduation time
By Steve Walker

Well it is that time of the year for high school and university students in San Antonio to get ready to walk the stage for graduation ceremonies. Students from everywhere in the metro area are gearing up for the parties, celebrations of long anticipated completion of at least a four year marathon of classes that culminates in a degree or diploma.

Many graduating high school students who can’t afford the sticker value of a college education are frantically looking for scholarships and other avenues to pay for their degrees. Many parents are doing their best to help their kids achieve that goal with financial help by working two jobs and taking out loans. For many families in San Antonio this will be the first generation to obtain a college degree. 

The journey actually begins when a student graduates from middle school. This puts them on the path to achieve a higher education and sets the tone for what they may choose for their lifelong career.

As high school prepares them with basic life skills to allow them to compete in the workforce, it comes to fruition their senior year when they begin the journey of choosing whether to go to college or not and which college or tech school to attend to fulfill their career choices.

For many the hardship of the financial burden is often so overwhelming to the point of discouragement, that they either give up or indefinitely postpone their dreams of a better life and financial security.

The students of Bexar County live in a somewhat more positive environment than most. Our community values education and therefore works diligently to assist families in being able to send their children forward in their pursuit of higher education.    

This support comes in the form of scholarships and financial assistance from the many individuals and organizations and foundations within Bexar County. These groups work year round raising funds to be able to award deserving students the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. It also encourages those students who succeed in obtaining their educational goals to return to their community and become productive citizens who pay it forward.

One of the many educational organizations whose sole purpose is to ensure that local students are given the chance to receive a scholarship to pursue their education is the La Prensa Education Foundation spearheaded by Millie Duran.

Millie, wife of La Prensa Publisher Tino Duran has successfully raised over two and a half million dollars in scholarship monies over the years.

Recently I was privileged to cover this year’s fundraiser gala as I have done numerous times in the past.

As an active member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists (SAAHJ) I have also been involved in a number of fundraising events for aspiring young journalists. In fact in August we will host our annual SAAHJ Gala Ceremony that will award scholarships to worthy students.

One example of a success story is Francisco Vara-Orta, a former recipient. He is now the current President of SAAHJ and a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News.

There are many other organizations, foundations and individuals who feel strongly about ensuring that the educational future will be bright for not only students, but the entire community. This is a win-win for everyone in Bexar County.

As always, I write just thought.

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Judge and Journalist.

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