CANYON — Two new programs funded by West Texas A&M University’s President’s Circle are funding student dreams and success.
Four freshmen have been named to the first cohort of the President’s Experiential Learning Student Fellowship. Additionally, 20 students are the first winners of the President’s Earn and Learn Scholarship Program.
“Thanks to the generosity of some of our most faithful donors, my office is able to provide targeted assistance to some of our most promising students through these two programs,” President Dr. Walter Wendler said. “Many of these students are first-generation students from all over the Texas Panhandle who will gain tangible, highly employable skills.”
For the fellowship, administered by the Experiential Learning office, graduating high school seniors from the top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle who are in the top 10 to 20 percent of their class are given the opportunity to create an experiential learning project that will benefit their home community. The selected students are given up to $2,500 in funding for the projects, which will include such concepts as outdoor learning spaces and permanent food banks.
The 2020 cohort is Audree Wilson, a freshman from Sunray; Alejandro Mata, a freshman from Hereford; Annahi Ruiz, a freshman from Stratford; and Grace Nyabatware, a freshman from Amarillo.
“WT is committed to student success and guiding students towards experiences that will help them be more marketable once they graduate,” said George Pacheco Jr., director of Experiential Learning and Campus to Community. “In addition to funding their projects, the fellowship offers tuition assistance for their second and third years in school, when many scholarships run out and often cause students to take fewer hours or even stop attending.”
The scholarship program, administered by Career Services, assists students across the university in unpaid or underpaid internships or research experiences.
“We don’t want students to not participate in these experiences because of a lack of funding,” said Steve Sellars, internship coordinator. “Many students have expenses during the semester that don’t allow participating in an unpaid or underpaid experience. Also, some students simply need help with transportation to and from an internship outside the area or assistance with housing expenses. This scholarship is designed to lessen these barriers.”
Students who participate in practical, hands-on opportunities are more likely to find employment and be more satisfied with their career choice, Sellars said.
“When students intern or participate in a hands-on research experience, everyone wins — the student, the employer and the university,” he said.
The Fall 2020 recipients are Christian Bazaldua, a senior nursing major from Canyon; Shelby Dunbar, a senior social work major from Lockney; Jennifer Freeze, a senior social work major from Amarillo; Cassandra Hernandez, a senior social work major from Canyon; Jennifer Lemke, a senior social work major from Amarillo; Tearanee Lockhart, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Amarillo; Victoria Loustaunau, a senior music therapy major from El Paso; Chloe Pratt, a junior history major from Bedford; Mary Rumley, a senior education major from Dalhart; Maris Sanchez, a senior education major from Amarillo; and Savante Wallace, a senior social work major from Canyon.
The Summer 2020 recipients are Daniel Leal, a recent graduate with a counseling degree from Hereford; Moriah Fitzgerald, a recent graduate with a music therapy degree from Canyon; Jessica Williams, a senior wildlife biology and broadcast journalism major from Merkel; Jorge Patricio Rojas Puente, a post-baccalaureate mechanical engineering major from Quito, Ecuador; Katie McCallie, a junior wildlife biology major from Flagstaff, Ariz.; Darby Sparkman, a Quanah native pursuing a master’s in mass communication major; and Eve Duck, a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Amarillo.
Spring 2021 recipients are Madeline Kleinschmidt, a junior general business major from Kenai, Alaska; and Teranesha Taylor, a Riviera Beach, Fla., native pursuing a master’s in communication disorders.
Both programs were funded with $50,000 in seed money from the President’s Circle, comprised of donors who give a minimum of $1,000 annually to the WTAMU Foundation. Their commitment supports important initiatives such as scholarships and program funds that are central the university’s educational mission, sustaining an exceptional educational experience for students taught by outstanding faculty.