- Published on Friday, 22 November 2013 16:26
By Laura L. Acosta
UTEP News Service
The El Paso Community College Transfer Scholarship that Abigail Cano received when she transitioned from EPCC to The University of Texas at El Paso in 2008 paved the way for her rewarding career as a physical therapist.
The $6,000 merit-based scholarship eased Cano’s financial burden and allowed her to take as many classes as she needed to graduate with her bachelor’s in kinesiology degree in 2009.
“I didn’t have to work to pay for my tuition,” said Cano, a physical therapist at University Medical Center. “I had more time to dedicate to school and prepare for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UTEP. Without the scholarship, it would have taken me much longer to get into the program.”
Cano is one of 488 students that have benefited from the scholarship, which is funded through contributions from the San Angelo, Texas-based Wolslager Foundation.
She also has the distinction of being the first EPCC Transfer Scholar to complete a doctoral degree. Cano was among the first group of students that received their Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from UTEP in 2012.
“Students like Abigail are why we work so very hard to fulfill our access and our excellence mission,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio said during an event Nov. 20 to honor this year’s transfer scholarship recipients.
This fall, 70 students have been awarded a renewable transfer scholarship valued at $6,000 to ease their transition from EPCC to UTEP. Forty-two students are new scholarship recipients and 28 have had their scholarships renewed. This year, the program has awarded $420,000 in transfer scholarships.
To date, the Wolslager Foundation has invested more than $2.7 million to help students complete their bachelor's degrees.
The Wolslager Foundation was established by J.W. Wolslager and his wife Josephine, former owners of several Coca-Cola bottling plants in the Southwest, including Magnolia Coca-Cola in El Paso, now known as Coca-Cola Refreshments.
Their grandson, Stephen J. Wolslager, said that when his grandparents sold the business, their goal was to put the money from the sale back into the community.
“We at the foundation have been striving to meet their goal by providing educational opportunities such as scholarships, promoting programs that enhance youth development, as well as other projects that benefit the community,” said Wolslager, the foundation’s vice president.
Established in 1997, the EPCC Transfer Scholarship Program offered $1,000 scholarships to 10 students who transferred to UTEP from EPCC in its first year. Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Sun West Bank, now Bank of America, financed the scholarships. The Wolslager Foundation has sponsored the program since 2001.
“We value so much the hard work that you all have put into being where you are right now,” Wolslager told this year’s scholarship recipients.
Over the past 16 years, 368 EPCC transfer scholarship recipients have earned their bachelor’s degrees from UTEP. Of those, 99 have pursued graduate studies and 52 have earned their master’s degrees.
The program is an example of the longstanding and successful partnership between UTEP and EPCC.
“It is truly a visionary partnership that we have,” EPCC President William Serrata said during his remarks. “It is not a competitive partnership whatsoever, other than we all compete to ensure that you have the best education available to you in El Paso.”
The collaboration between UTEP and EPCC has played a major role in Adam Banda’s success.
Banda started his academic career at EPCC in 2008. Three years later, the aspiring biomedical researcher transferred to UTEP after he spent a summer working on genetic codes in the University’s bioscience labs as part of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the summer research program is a partnership between UTEP and EPCC that exposes community college students to research at the University.
Banda is once again benefiting from UTEP and EPCC’s joint efforts as a first time recipient of the EPCC transfer scholarship.
“This scholarship has helped me out financially,” said Banda, who expects to earn his degree in cellular and molecular biochemistry this December and pursue a Ph.D. “The Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program has helped me career-wise because now I want to be a biomedical scientist.”
The success of the EPCC Transfer Scholarship Program is one example of why Washington Monthly magazine has ranked UTEP #1 for a second year in a row among research universities for promoting social mobility among students and enabling them to fulfill their highest professional aspirations and enhance the quality of life, President Natalicio said.
“We believe that all of our transfer scholars … have the opportunity to explore and advance on the path toward new knowledge, new skills, new expectations in a baccalaureate degree, utilizing the agility, perseverance and talent that enabled them to achieve excellence at El Paso Community College,” President Natalicio said. “UTEP stands ready to do everything we can to support you as you continue to pursue your dreams.”
Students who qualify for the scholarship must have 45 transferable credit hours and a minimum 2.75 G.P.A.
In 2008, UTEP received a highly coveted Star Award from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the EPCC Transfer Scholarship Program. Star Awards are given to Texas higher education programs that help close the gaps in student participation and success, academic excellence and research.
Several other UTEP programs are designed to help EPCC students make a successful transition to the University. A Transfer Center at EPCC’s Valle Verde campus helps students find the information and support they need to come to UTEP. An Articulation Committee aligns the curriculum between UTEP and EPCC to make sure that courses offered at El Paso Community College are transferable for full credit at UTEP. And the College Readiness Initiative, a partnership among El Paso high schools, EPCC and UTEP, helps high school students transition into college coursework.
For more information about scholarships, visit the Office of Scholarships.