Texas Border Business
MCALLEN, TX – Antonio Perez says he is proud of where he has come from. Working in the fields as a migrant since childhood, Perez says he took it upon himself to better his life by receiving an education.
Fast-forward more than ten years, the standout student is set to receive his degree in education from South Texas College in 2020, and is currently the president of STC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He has also been a member of the college’s Valley Scholars Program since he began at the college in 2018.
Now dressed in a pressed suit while greeting high-profile guests at STC’s Annual “Night with the Stars” Gala, Perez reflects on how far he has come and where he is going after college.
“Because of the way I was raised, I saw how important it was to receive an education rather than just work in the fields,” Perez said. “Working in the fields taught me that things aren’t just handed to you. It’s better to take things seriously and get them done at an early age.
“If I can let other migrants know that there is more than what they have, then maybe I can help someone to a better life,” he said.
Perez was among the Valley Scholars students hosting the 14th annual “A Night with the Stars” scholarship fundraiser on Oct. 10. Key to the success of the event and the Valley Scholars Program is partnerships with community sponsors who have been consistently dedicated over the years to the advancement of education among our youth. Their support is recognized annually at the scholarship gala.
This year, STC honored two educational partners at the annual gala, Roma ISD and Rio Grande City CISD, as well as two business partners Halff Associates, Inc. and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP.
“South Texas College works closely with its partners in Hidalgo and Starr Counties to create seamless educational pathways for students in our communities,” said Dr. Anahid Petrosian, Chief Academic Officer at South Texas College. “Raising funds to support the Valley Scholars Program is an important endeavor for the college. I want to thank our sponsors and community members because we cannot do this program without their ongoing support.”
The annual fundraising event took place at the Corinthian Banquet & Special Event Center in Mission. Valley Scholars Class 16 alumnus Joe Garcia served as the guest speaker. Garcia received an Associate of Science in Physics in 2013 and an Associate of Science in Engineering in 2014 from STC before moving on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2017.
For more than two decades now, the Valley Scholars Program has provided educational opportunities for the brightest students in the Rio Grande Valley.
Since its inception in 1997, the Valley Scholars Program has continued its mission to provide educational opportunities, leadership development, and scholarships to academically gifted and highly motivated students.
So far, more than 965 students have participated in the program, and have benefited from more than $1.8 million in donations from the community.
“STC has been a part of our school district for over 20 years, and has afforded our students an opportunity for post-secondary success,” said Elsa Morris, Director of Secondary Education with Rio Grande City CISD who was on hand to receive a special recognition on behalf of the school district. “Prior to STC, our students were not exposed to (the) college experience that they have received at the college.
“We have made our own college-going culture because of STC and we are grateful and glad that we have had the opportunity so close to home,” Morris said. “It’s contagious because not only our kids but even our kids’ parents have the opportunity to go to college. It’s phenomenal.”