As the first person in my family to go to college, I am fond of saying that education helps dreams come true. That certainly is the case at the University of Texas at El Paso, where I am proud to be Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Most of our students work part-time or full-time in order to get their education and many are the first in their families to go to college.
Nine years ago, Southwest Airlines and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) teamed up to support Hispanic students who are pursuing a university education. They created “Lanzate,” a special travel award program. It is geared toward college students with economic need who travel away from home to attend a university. The award is one to four roundtrip tickets, generously donated by Southwest Airlines, which allows successful applicants to travel to their university for the first time, or to return home for the holidays, or to bring mother and father to graduation. These tickets represent “the way home” for students whose culture embodies the importance of family and family time together.
For eight years I have had the honor of serving on the Lanzate selection committee, comprised of educators and executives, and convened by Southwest and HACU. We read applications from students across the country, and meet one day in San Antonio to complete the selection process. It is one of the best days of my year. I read phenomenal stories on the application forms about people whose hard work has opened opportunities for them at small and large, public and private, colleges and universities around the country. I read stories about the power of the human spirit, and all are testaments to the importance that these Hispanic students place on getting an education to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Lanzate gives them the opportunity to get an education and still stay connected to their families. Thank you to HACU and Southwest Airlines, for the difference you make in these students’ lives…and the joy this program brings to mine.
Southwest Airlines is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage this month and all year long. Learn more about how Southwest gives back to the Hispanic community.