PSJA Education Foundation awards $384,000 in scholarships, grants

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Texas Border Business

PSJA Early College High School graduates receive a PSJA Education Foundation scholarship from Foundation board members.

PHARR – Breaking its own record, the PSJA Education Foundation awarded $384,000 in scholarships and grants to Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD seniors and staff this 2018-2019 school year.

First founded in 2013, the PSJA Education Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, has helped enhance educational opportunities for the youth and families of PSJA ISD thanks to sponsorships and donations from PSJA Alumni, local businesses and district staff members through payroll deduction.

“I am honored to be a recipient,” said Maralba Perez, PSJA North Early College High School Graduate. “Your generosity will help me continue my studies at St. Mary’s University where I plan to major in Biochemistry this fall.”


PSJA Southwest Early College High School graduate Dioselina De La Cruz receives her scholarship from PSJA Board and Foundation Member Jorge Palacios and Foundation Vice President Ronnie Cantu.

A total of 146 scholarships were awarded to PSJA ISD graduating seniors totaling $329,000 and $40,000 were distributed to teachers through 47 mini-grants, with a $15,000 grant awarded to the PSJA Library Services Department for district-level literacy programs. 

The foundation’s primary fundraiser is an annual concert where local businesses and PSJA Alumni donate to the cause. The upcoming concert fundraiser is set for Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Pharr Events Center featuring the Liverpool Legends. Potential sponsors may visit the foundation’s webpage at www.psjaisd.us/foundation.

The five Joel “Joey” Gonzalez Presidential Scholarship recipients pictured with members of the PSJA Education Foundation. (from left)(front row) – Foundation Advisor Member Lydia Aleman, PSJA North Graduate Richard Hernandez; PSJA Memorial Graduate Owen Ochoa; PSJA T-STEM Early College HS Graduate Rodrigo Palacios; PSJA ECHS Graduate Kassandra Solis; PSJA Southwest ECHS Graduate Christian Valdes; Foundation Board Members Velma De Leon and Marlen Lopez. (from left)(back row): Foundation Board Member Ben Castillo; Vice President Ronnie Cantu; Foundation President and School Board Member Jesse Vela, Jr.; School Board Secretary-Treasurer and Foundation Member Jorge Zambrano; Alamo Commissioner and Foundation Member Trino Medina and Foundation Member Melissa Diaz.

GIVING BACK

Thanks to the help and support from donors through the years, the PSJA Education Foundation has been able to increase the number of scholarships and awards given. 

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The most coveted award given to the top rated applicant per high school is the Joel “Joey” Gonzalez Presidential Scholarship worth a total of $16,000 for a four year period. This was the second year this commemorative scholarship, named to honor the memory of the Foundation’s first President, was given to five PSJA ISD graduates: Kassandra Solis from PSJA ECHS; Richard Hernandez from PSJA North ECHS; Owen Ochoa from PSJA Memorial ECHS; Christian Valdes from PSJA Southwest ECHS and Rodrigo Palacios from PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS.

The 2019 Joel “Joey” Gonzalez Presidential Scholarship Recipients (from left): PSJA Memorial ECHS Graduate Owen Ochoa; PSJA North ECHS Graduate Richard Hernandez; PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS Graduate Rodrigo Palacios; PSJA ECHS Graduate Kassandra Solis and PSJA Southwest ECHS Graduate Christian Valdes.

This namesake scholarship is made possible thanks to the contributions of an annual golf tournament put together by Gonzalez’ former colleagues from Texas Regional Bank. 

Other area families and alumni groups have also joined the efforts of providing their own namesake scholarships such as the Mario Cantu, Jr. Community Scholarship, the Roy Guzman Athletic Scholarship, the Bracamontes 2nd Chance Scholarship, and the Autism Awareness Walk Scholarship.

Texas Regional Bank members join the 2019 Joel “Joey” Gonzalez Presidential Scholarship Recipients (from left): Texas Regional Bank Chief Administrative Officer Jason Leal; PSJA North ECHS Graduate Richard Hernandez; PSJA Memorial ECHS Graduate Owen Ochoa; Texas Regional Bank Chief Lending Officer/South Texas Regional Market President Brent M. Baldree; PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS Graduate Rodrigo Palacios; PSJA ECHS Graduate Kassandra Solis; PSJA Southwest ECHS Graduate Christian Valdes and Texas Regional Bank Business Development Vice President Felicia Villarreal.

“Thank you for helping students like me,” said Amy Huang, a 4-yr $2,500 ($10,000) recipient from PSJA Memorial ECHS. “Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to my community. One day I hope to be able to help students achieve their goals as you have helped me.”

Huang graduated with an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College on May 17 before receiving her high school diploma. The first-generation college student will be attending Cornell University this fall. 

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