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Career Connections: Southwest Encourages First-Generation Latino Students to Pursue their Dreams


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As the official airline sponsor of The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) Education Foundation, Southwest supports first-generation Latino students, including military veterans, from underserved communities by connecting them to academic and professional opportunities. TELACU established its Education Foundation in 1983 to combat the high dropout rates among Latino college students. Each year, the TELACU Education Foundation provides financial resources and support services to 2,000 high school, college, and graduate school students. More than three decades later, the TELACU alumni program comprises thousands of graduates across the U.S. Because Southwest serves more than 100 destinations and offers extensive routing options, access to our service enables students to visit and attend schools all around the country—a possibility that might have otherwise been beyond their reach. Southwest also provides flight access to students pursuing internships in their chosen field.


Earlier this year, a group of TELACU high schoolers traveled on one of Southwest’s convenient cross-country flights to tour prospective colleges and universities on the East Coast. During the trip, students visited Washington, D.C., where they got a firsthand glimpse into how our democracy works. Both informative and inspiring, this experience exposed the students to new possibilities. TELACU scholars and alumni are grateful for the support of the foundation and its committed partners like Southwest. One of TELACU’s countless success stories is Stephanie Haro, a current Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University.


While receiving her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at Brown University, Stephanie helped develop an automated system for hospitals that detects whether an infant’s cries are pain-induced. TELACU has empowered Stephanie to venture far from home to achieve her dreams, and thanks to Southwest, she knows home is just a flight away.