Demain Chavez is a recent 2021 graduate from El Dorado High School. In 2019, Demain proudly represented Socorro Independent School District when he participated in the El Paso Strong Reading Series. During the event, which took place at the Philanthropy Theater at the Plaza Theater in downtown El Paso, he read a monologue based on what he felt and experienced during the moments he heard about the Walmart shooting on August 3, 2019.
Demain is currently attending his first semester at The University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing a double major in Plan II Honors and Theater and Dance.
Mia Johnson is a proud Irvin Rocket graduate and salutatorian of the class of 2021. She took part in various clubs and organizations while in high school, including Colorguard, Key Club, Yearbook, Student Council, National Honors Society, and Rocket Newt Tech Council. She is recognized as the 2021 All Irvin Girl, Most Outstanding Rocket, Outstanding Citizen, and is a Who’s Who recipient.
At The University of Texas at Austin, Mia is pursuing a degree in the Plan II Honors Program and is actively inquiring about a second major. She hopes to open an ice cream shop one day after following a career path she discovers while attending the university.
Jaime Ramirez Gomez was raised in El Paso, Texas and is a proud graduate from El Paso High School with the class of 2021. At present, Jaime is a first-year student in the College of Natural Science at The University of Texas at Austin, where he is studying Neuroscience.
Salma Teran is a proud Eastwood High School graduate and is studying design in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. She was very involved with her high school community, participating in organizations and clubs such as the National Art Honor Society and the Book Club. She hopes to join movements bigger than herself as she pursues her higher education.
Currently a first-year student, Salma hopes to find ways to help her community through design better and couldn’t be more grateful to the El Paso in Austin Network for allowing her to pursue her passions.
Christian Corral was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a proud Eastwood High School graduate from the recent class of 2020. Christian is currently attending his first semester at The University of Texas at Austin and is studying Kinesiology Exercise Science. His long-term goal is to go to medical school and specialize in Neurology. His career interests include the study of disease prevention, educational psychology, and neurological research.
Chathrini Kularatne graduated with the Socorro High School class of 2020. After moving to El Paso from California, she attended Del Norte Heights elementary, Hurshel Antwine Elementary, and Rafael Hernando Middle school. Her family has lived in El Paso for almost ten years and has fallen in love with the welcoming community as well as the drive people have for success. She confidently states that the city is what has motivated her to become the best version of herself. Chathrini attends The University of Texas at Austin, with the help from the El Paso In Austin Foundation, and couldn’t be more grateful for the impact El Paso has made on her journey to higher education.
Shih Han (Nini) Kuo is currently studying accounting at the Red Mccombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Her academic goal is to be apart of the integrated MPA program offered at UT and graduate with CPA licenses by Spring 2023.
Nini graduated from Valle Verde Early College High School and as a UT student, she is active with the Asian Business Student Association. She has also been able to find time to balance academics with her hobbies, which include acrylic painting, playing badminton, and baking. Nini is a talented cartoonist and you may check out her work on Instagram under the @sundae.nini handle.
Zaida Elizabeth Flores is the 2020 Salutatorian for Canutillo High School and is attending the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin in pursuit of a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering.
Zaida was an Eagle Pride Marching Band Section Leader and a Concert Band First Chair of the French Horn section. She served in organizations such as the National Honor Society as President, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Ambassador for Computer Science, Girls Who Code, Math Team, Science Team, and played Varsity Girls Soccer.
Zaida has been recognized as a Who’s Who Award recipient, AP Scholar with Distinction, and from the National Hispanic Recognition Program. While in high school she volunteered regularly at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and held an internship at AEG, LLC Mechanical Engineers.
Jared Vrahnos is a graduate of Americas High School and was involved with many clubs and organizations including speech and debate, the National Honor Society, and Business Professionals of America.
Beyond the classroom, Jared ventured into his community and altar-served at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church; learning to give back to others in a faith-based way. His involvement in community events served the purpose of improving any environment with a sense of humility and compassion. Serving as a bell ringer for the El Paso Salvation Army during the Christmas season, and accumulating cans for El Pasoans Fighting Hunger are a few of the community service projects he participated in to give back to the caring community of El Paso.
Now a student at The University of Texas at Austin, he plans to attain a degree where he can give back to a community in need. Becoming a lawyer or doctor with a background in business are the career pursuits he aspires to achieve. Jared says that no matter what the future may hold, he will strive to make a difference within any community, filled with the determination to help others.
Angela Chung graduated with a 4.2 GPA in her class's top 5 percentile from Valle Verde Early College High School.
Throughout her academic career, she has served in various leadership positions, including President of the Future Business Leaders of America for three consecutive years and Treasurer of Future Health Professions of America and was an active member of multiple extracurricular activities such as the National Honor Society, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Mu Alpha Beta, VEX Robotics, STEM. She also received the Honorary Leonidas Award.
She is currently attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to pursue a major in Neuroscience/ Pre-Medicine, with a minor in Business Administration. At UT, she is an active member of Synapse Neuroscience Academy and Women in Medicine. This student organization strives to foster and encourage interest in Neuroscience Research among prospective students, raise awareness about the medical field, and give back to the community through service. She is also taking part in the Freshman Research Initiative, where she runs independent research focusing on natural neuronal gene expression and behavior.
After four years, she hopes to channel her knowledge and skillsets by pursuing a medical field career as a family physician, helping to establish an exceptional healthcare system in the El Paso community. She states, "I will dedicate tireless hours to providing the best care for patients of all backgrounds, despite any economic inequities and give to the amazing people in my hometown. I am beyond grateful for all the support this scholarship has offered a community that aspires me to reach for my dreams and me."
Ashley Crooks graduated as the third in her class from Parkland High School with a 4.0 GPA.
Throughout high school, she balanced maintaining her GPA alongside multiple club activities, leadership roles, community service opportunities, and competitions. She was a member of Parkland's chapter of the National Honor Society, an Army JROTC cadet, and a primary actress in Parkland's Theater Troupe. In JROTC, she was promoted to a Cadet Major, the executive officer of the battalion who oversaw the wellbeing of over 100 cadets in the program. She was also a member of the Texas flag in JROTC's color guard. While in theater, she directed two school plays, acted in 19 others, and served as President of the Theater Troupe during her senior year. She competed in the One-Act play UIL competition all four years of high school and was awarded All-Star Cast in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Ashley attends the University of Texas at Austin and continues her passion for education and service. She is majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with an emphasis in speech pathology. She is an active member of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as the Lang Stuttering Institute Student Leadership Organization. NSSHLA is a speech pathology oriented organization that offers ongoing service opportunities with the Austin Speech Labs, a nonprofit that helps rehabilitate stroke survivors. LSISLO is a leadership organization for the stuttering research institute at UT Austin that advocates for people who stutter.
"Everyone deserves a voice to express themselves freely. I'm so grateful to El Paso in Austin for caring about my voice and allowing me to study at the best university in Texas. I can explore my potential and further my passions in the 7th best speech pathology program in the country, all because of their generosity and belief in my vision."
Jorge Eduardo Duran attended Cathedral High School and graduated as salutatorian of his class with a 4.67 GPA.
While at Cathedral, Eduardo participated in many clubs and organizations and led the Cathedral basketball team to a stellar 28-7 record. He served as president of the National Honor Society and the vice president of the pre-med club. Eduardo was a member of "El Otro Lado," an organization that aides with the cultural immersion of students around the nation. Students would fly out to El Paso, and Eduardo and a few other Cathedral students would give them a historical and cultural tour of the border. Groups came from all over, including Chicago, New York, and Mexico City. The sites that were visited included Mt. Cristo Rey, El Ministerio RICO at St. Pius X, and Juarez itself.
During his years at Cathedral High School, Eduardo was dual-enrolled at El Paso Community College and received an associate's degree in the arts and earned distinguished achievement as he was on the President's List.
Eduardo is now a mechanical engineering major at The University of Texas at Austin and is involved with the Texas Wranglers. Members of this service organization participate in many philanthropic and community service opportunities in the Austin area, including gardening at Pease Park and mentoring at Maplewood Elementary. Eduardo hopes to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Business minor, and a Computer Science certificate in May 2023. Eduardo wishes to move back to El Paso and give back in any way he can to the El Paso community. Eduardo believes that with the support of his community and hard work, anything is possible for El Paso and the beautiful city that inhabits the Juarez-El Paso border.
Valerie Ruby Faudoa, graduated high school as a first-class graduate from Pebble Hills High School with a 3.87 GPA. Throughout high school, she was involved in Science UIL and Journalism UIL competitively. She was also the Editor-In-Chief of the yearbook staff for two years and a varsity cross country runner for one year. Her extracurricular activities extended to being part of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and later be the co-founder of a suicide prevention program created with her best friend called Project Hope. Throughout this program, they ensured not only inclusive activities but also weekly informative announcements to help spread awareness on campus. She's now attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to declare a major in Social Work, with a minor in Government. At UT Austin, she's part of the Subiendo Longhorn Chapter that focuses on outreach to high school juniors to become part of the academy for rising leaders hosted by McCombs School of Business. While at UT, she hopes to further her knowledge and skills to one day give back to her hometown, and specifically those kids who like her know the struggle of a border between families. "Knowing that a group of people cared about my dream and what I needed to get there helped me realize the amount of generosity there is for the El Paso community. I’m truly thankful and cannot wait to start making a change."
Luisa Gabaldon graduated with a 4.2 GPA and in the top 10% of her class from El Paso High School. She was the marketer and an editor of the yearbook was involved with both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society and received the advanced seal of biliteracy under her schools Connecting Worlds/Mundos Unidos magnet program. She’s currently attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in marketing. At UT, she’s involved with the Latin Economics and Business Association. After completing her bachelors and masters, she hopes to move back to El Paso to implement her own business promoting sustainability as well as produce and market her own film expanding on the culture between the two border towns. “I am beyond grateful, this scholarship has helped me be able to pursue my dreams in a way I never thought would be possible,” she said. “I am focused to better my community in every way possible, both in making it a better place to live and promoting the culture every El Pasoan can never seem to let go."
Natalia Gonzalez graduated with a 4.0 GPA in the top 5 of her class from Del Valle High School. She was in FBLA, Valor Dual Language Club, NHS, NEHS, HOBY, Student Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank, Student Council Secretary, President of Multinational Business Academy, Captain of the Volleyball Varsity Team, All-Star Volleyball Player, Volunteer Tax Preparer and Site Coordinator at a VITA Site, and was a youth group leader at her church. She attends the University of Texas at Austin where she plans to major in Business Management. At UT, she is an Internal Relations Chair for the Hispanic Business Student Association and is involved in community service events. "After completing my four years of college, I plan to go back to El Paso where I aspire to start my own non-profit organization that will help build homes for those in need. My dream is to be able to give back to my community and this scholarship has only motivated me to keep working hard in order to fulfill it."
Damaris Cortes graduated valedictorian of Clint Early College High School. She was involved in the Chemistry Club, Phi Theta Kappa International Society, and was a yearbook editor-in-chief. She attends the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in Pre-Med/Science. At UT, she’s part of the Room to Read organization which reads to low-income prekindergarten students. She’s also part of the Freshman Research Initiative, which focuses on lab work and research. She hopes to return to El Paso as an emergency doctor. “I am thankful to have been given this scholarship because it has lessened the economic burden for me. As a first-generation student born into a low-income family, my dream has always been to get the education to help my family and my community, but without a scholarship, it's more difficult," Damaris said. "This scholarship helped me afford housing, which is a cost that sometimes is undermined by the cost of tuition alone. Knowing that someone cared that I had the money to make my dream of college more attainable inspires me not only to continue in reaching my goals but also to be generous always.”
Jack Luvian graduated with a 4.05 GPA and in the top 10% of his class from Franklin High School. He was involved in the National Honor Society, student council, orchestra, Academic Decathlon, and newspaper. He's currently attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in English and Rhetoric & Writing. At UT, he’s involved with The American Red Cross Club and Students Against Cruelty to Animals (SACA). He hopes to one day become a professor of English and an author on environmental and social issues. Jack said the scholarship allowed him to pursue his goals. "Through my writing, I hope to address different matters affecting our world, ranging from climate change to the importance of helping survivors of sexual abuse," he said. "This scholarship is paying for my education. That is absolutely incredible, to be given the gift of education. With the knowledge I receive from college, I will be able to make a difference with my writing and teaching. This scholarship joins me in creating change to make a better world.”
Veronica Rodriguez graduated with a 4.05 GPA as a salutatorian from Bowie High School. She was involved in student council, Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps (JROTC), DECA, business academy, and class committees. She's currently attending the University of Texas at Austin and plans to major in business management. She is active in The Hispanic Business Student Association and is a mentee with the McCombs Success Scholars. "I plan on getting my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees and then go back to my hometown of El Paso, Texas," Veronica said. "I want to give back to those that are in need and look to put the leadership skills I learned at college into action. With this scholarship, the worries of how I would pay for my studies was lifted off my shoulders."
Ivana Valdez graduated in the top 10 percent of her class from Americas High School. While in high school she was a volleyball team captain, and a member of the National Honor Society, Destination Imagination, varsity choir, and an acapella group. She is also recognized as gifted in Spanish and culinary arts, as well as creative writing. In fact, she worked as a tutor for struggling writers during Americas’ school breaks. Ivana will attend UT Austin, where she will study biology and psychology.
Abigail Ulloa was the valedictorian for the graduating class of 2015 at Bel Air High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society, High Q, and the Bel Air book, science, and guitar clubs. She is a noted guitar player. She competed in UIL competitions for music, spelling, and science, and also received excellence awards in advanced biology, health science, chemistry, history, and Japanese. Abigail participated in the pharmacy technician program at Bel Air, where she said she gained first-hand experience working with low-income persons struggling to afford medication. She will now attend UT Austin and study biochemistry, and hopes to pursue medical research, focusing particularly on making medication more affordable.
2016 Scholars (left to right) Alexis Hernandez, Luisa Herrera, and Cynthia Gomez pictured with U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke (El Paso).
Alexis Hernandez graduated from Montwood High School in the top five percent of her class. She was actively involved in cheerleading and softball. In her spare time, she also loves snowboarding and plays the cello, violin, and piano. She is a student at UT-Austin majoring in biology with plans to eventually become a surgeon.
Luisa Herrera graduated from Burges High School in the top five students. Her activities included being student council president, being Burges' only regionals-qualifying cross country runner last year, the Lady Mustangs' basketball team, National Honor Society, and numerous faith-based service programs. Luisa attends UT-Austin and hopes to study either speech pathology or special education.
Cynthia Gomez graduated from Bowie High School in South El Paso at the top of her class. She was active with numerous organizations while in high school, including the robotics club, High Q, Student Council, and the Bowie Garden. Cynthia attends UT-Austin and hopes to major in computer engineering and then pursue a master's degree.
Adriel Morgan will apply the scholarship she won last year toward her study at UT's McCombs School of Business. She deferred admission for one year to work abroad. She graduated sixth in her class from Valle Verde Early College High School, where she received numerous academic honors, including being named to Valle Verdes' Honor Roll, and to the Dean's List and President's List for El Paso Community College, as well as winning 1st in Division (Mechanical Engineering) at the district science fair. She is a graduate of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce's Junior Leadership of El Paso program and was Miss El Paso La Feria. She volunteered for the El Paso Anti Human Trafficking Task Force and spent six summers working with impoverished communities on every continent.
Nicholas Baquera graduated fifth in his class from Montwood High School. While in high school, Nicholas was the captain of the swim team, excelled at University Interscholastic League accounting competitions, and volunteered for environmental awareness projects.
He was a member of the National Honor Society and was honored as the Most Outstanding Advanced Placement U.S. History student, as well as recognized as one of the Mayor's Top 100 Teens. Nicholas is now a freshman at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, where he is also the recipient of the University's Presidential Achievement Scholarship. After graduation, he hopes to work for a major accounting firm and engage in community service opportunities.
Valerie Montes graduated third in her class from Bowie High School. While in high school Valerie was president of DECA, and captain of the volleyball, basketball, and track teams. She was active in the yearbook, student council, National Honor Society, and her church's youth group. She also served as an accounting intern for the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso. Valerie is now also a freshman at McCombs School of Business studying accounting. She also hopes to work for a major accounting firm.
Gianni Outram is a graduate of El Dorado High School. She was one of the school's top five graduates in 2012, completed the school's International Baccalaureate program, and participated in several academic and volunteer organizations, including the speech and debate team and Boys and Girls Club of America. She was also a member of the varsity track and field and cheerleading teams. Gianni has put her love of cheer and dance to use as a member of the Pom Squad at UT. Gianni tells the scholarship committee that her goal in life is to work in education as a teacher, school counselor, or principal.
Avoree Villegas is a graduate of Ysleta High School. She was one of the school's top ten graduates in 2012 and was an officer in several organizations, including the National Honor Society, Advancement Via Individual Determination, and DECA. She was also captain of her soccer and volleyball teams. Avoree is now majoring in biochemistry at UT. She plans to attend medical school and eventually become an OB/GYN. She tells the scholarship committee she hopes to start an organization that volunteers at children’s hospitals and animal shelters.
Carmen Castillo Allen is a graduate of Bowie High School. Carmen was a leader in extracurricular activities such as track and soccer, journalism, yearbook, and National Honor Society. She was also an ambitious student, graduating in the top ten percent of her class, and taking extra science and math courses to prepare for pursuing a degree in biology. After graduating from UT, Carmen plans to attend medical school and eventually become an anesthesiologist. She tells the scholarship committee she hopes to one day open a clinic in El Paso that provides free health services.
El Paso High School
The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2016
Fabens High School
The University of Texas at
Austin, Class of 2016
Mountain View High School
The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2016
Social Work & Women and Gender Studies Major
Burges High School
The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2016
American Studies & Music Business Major
Chapin High School
The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2015
Public Health Major
Hae Soo Chung
Montwood High School
The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2015