Vergara Educational Fund Posts Impressive Returns

Lamar Bruni Vergara Educational Fund
Posts Impressive Gains for All

While the stock market of late has shown some remarkable returns, few rival the return enjoyed by Laredo’s Lama Bruni Vergara Educational Fund which has posted a 36.24% return on its original investment.

Dr. Jeff Brown is Texas A&M International University’s director of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, which oversees the Fund providing graduate student scholarships or assistantships.

“The original Endowment presented to us in 2004 by the Trustees of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust was a $10 million gift.  Including planned awards this year, we will have disbursed $1,255,719 in student support to 443 students.

“The increase in principle has been $2,368,223, or 23.68% rate of return. The principle increase plus the disbursements is $3,623,942 or a 36.24% rate of return.  The current market value of the Endowment is now $12,368,223,” Dr. Brown explained.

The Endowment Fund is centrally managed with the investment expertise of The Texas A&M University System.

While the rate of return is quite impressive, Dr. Brown said what students do with the resources provided them by the Lamar Bruni Vergara Educational Fund remains the biggest return of all.

“For most, this graduate student support has been the deciding factor in being able to seek a graduate degree.  It’s fundamentally career and life-affirming and offers the biggest return of all,” he noted.

Since 2005, 53 students have graduated with master’s or other post-graduate degrees with Lamar Bruni Vergara Educational Fund assistance.

According to the US Census Bureau, an individual with a master’s degree or higher can expect a higher earning potential and quality of life.  Depending on the discipline and degree, graduate and post-graduate incomes can generate an additional $13,000-$20,000 in annual income.

Linda Rios, who earned her Masters in Public Administration in 2005, is one such success story. She said the Fund’s assistance made her pursuit of a graduate degree possible.

“Graduate costs are formidable – books are especially expensive.  Having the Fund’s assistance was absolutely critical to me in pursuing and attaining the degree.  Simply, I couldn’t have done so without the scholarship help,” Rios said.

Rios is now executive director of Laredo-Webb Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit agency that assists disabled persons in securing accessible housing.

“We build homes for individuals with special needs, provide secondary financing, assist families with down payments and closing costs and offer a variety of pre- and post-purchase counseling,” she said.

Rios said her graduate degree has proven especially relevant.

“This degree has had real application for me. Studying the field of public administration has given me the opportunity to understand the administration of all levels of government. This degree has proven to be useful to me in my present employment as I’m now aware of the dynamic of the management and administration field. I’m so excited about the work I’m doing to help others that now I’m hoping to eventually pursue a doctoral degree in Public Policy,” she added.

Brown said while each student’s success is individual, the combined impact the Fund is having on lives is monumental.

“You take one student’s story like Linda’s and multiply it by an average of over 150 awards a year…and soon you realize that the Fund is a force of life, changing all that it touches.  It’s quite a way to make a difference every day,” he smiled.

The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust was established in 1989. The legacy of its namesake continues through the enhancement of the Catholic Church, education and health institutions, and numerous local social service organizations.

After the Laredoan’s death, a Trust was formed to provide continuous support of the social, religious, health and educational initiatives of the community.

In addition to  the Lamar Bruni Vergara Educational Fund, it has provided gifts and support for the Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing and its programs, student scholarships, faculty research, the Lamar Bruni Vergara Memorial Garden, and the Lamar Bruni Vergara Science Center and Planetarium. Trustees are Joe Martin Jr. and Judge Solomon Casseb Jr.

For additional information, contact Dr. Brown at 326.3020, click on tamiu.edu/gradschool, e-mail graduateschool@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 326.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu