At 46, Texas A&M International University student Cristina Yeverino has had her share of life's challenges.
A sophomore business administration major, Yeverino and her husband have recently experienced a period of raising three children under extreme financial hardship.
Then, her world took another turn as she began to assume responsibilities to care for her ill father.
For a while, Yeverino said she felt discouraged.
However, a new light of hope entered her life this Fall.
Yeverino, who has been pursuing a higher education degree for the past two years while working full-time, has been selected to receive the Renato Zapata/International Good Neighbor Council Scholarship.
The Renato Zapata/IGNC Endowed Scholarship was recently established at A&M International with a gift of $25,000.
Scholarships will be awarded to a junior or senior majoring in business administration intending to pursue a career in international trade.
"I'm very honored and if someone could put this scholarship to good use, it is me," Yeverino said, "Life gives you many experiences that make you think you are not worth that much but going to school has given me strength."
Yeverino, who said she studies until late hours of the night every day to stay ahead of her responsibilities added that education is power.
"Education is the only thing that no one will ever take away from me. It is my shield," she said.
A&M International President Dr. Charles Jennett said gifts like the Renato Zapata/IGNC Endowed Scholarship will encourage even more students like Yeverino to pursue study in an area that has become the life-blood of Laredo's economy.
"Our students understand the importance of international trade in this region of the U.S.-Mexico border and are eager to learn the inner workings of the field so that they can make a contribution in the future," Dr. Jennett said, "We thank the Renato Zapata Family and the International Good Neighbor Council for their tremendous vision and investment in the future of our students."
Jennett encouraged more community partners to join the Zapata Family and the IGNC in forming partnerships with A&M International.
"We are elated to see that our partners are growing every year and we would like to encourage others to join us in our effort to continue helping students advance their future and, thus, that of our community," Jennett said.
Mariangela Zapata Holliday, daughter of the former Renato Zapata, said the newly-formed partnership mirrors her father's dream of providing higher education to his children and grandchildren.
"Mr. Zapata instilled a great belief in education into all his children and grandchildren. While his non-formal education, like that of many of his peers, was cut short, he ensured that his three children and six grandchildren all completed their college education," Zapata Holliday said.
Manuel Bravo, lifetime director of IGNC, said the organization, a long-time friend of Zapata's, decided to contribute to the Renato Zapata/IGNC Endowed Scholarship to continue the tradition started by Zapata.
"Don Renato was a Mexican custom house broker who promoted international trade and international goodwill. We thought that this scholarship would be a wonderful way to carry on his tradition," Bravo said.
The IGNC, founded in 1954 by industrialists in Monterrey, Mexico and Texas, is dedicated to promoting goodwill and friendship between Mexico and the United States, Bravo said. Headquartered in Monterrey, the organization has chapters in both Mexico and Texas, he said.
To be considered for the Renato Zapata/IGNC Endowed Scholarsip, students must hold a grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
Students interested in applying for the scholarship may contact Araceli Rangel, A&M International financial aid director, at 326-2225.
For further information on the Renato Zapata/IGNC Endowed Scholarship or other partnership opportunities, please contact Michelle Alexander, A&M International vice president for Institutional Advancement, at 326-2175. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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