Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – South Texas College was recently presented with $6.8 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, one of the largest amounts given to a college nationally.
This award, presented to STC by US Congressman Henry Cuellar, will allow the college to continue to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to providing students with emergency financial aid grants.
“This grant is going to go a long way in offering deserving students financial support, and on behalf of the students, we express our deepest gratitude,” said STC President Ricardo J. Solis. “This is going to give us the opportunity to offer short-term training courses to create solutions that will allow us to get students back in the classroom, to give them confidence and opportunity. This is what this grant is all about.”
Solis added that the funds will also offer students debt forgiveness opportunities and help provide basic needs such as housing, food, child care and health care, including mental health.
“One in three college students suffer from mental health issues due to the stress of the pandemic and this grant will allow us to provide the counseling and help they need to succeed,” he said. “We are beyond grateful for our Valley lawmakers for their efforts in making this possible.”
STC Starr County student Alondra Hinojosa, who attended the announcement event as Student Government Association Secretary, said knowing that there is help available for students gives her peace of mind.
“What keeps a lot of people away from school is finances. There are many, like me, who struggle financially,” said the biology student. “Coming back to school after COVID was a struggle for my family, but thanks to all the financial help STC has provided, I’m able to continue working towards my dream. I hope this influences many others to come back or start. STC has a lot to offer.”
After graduating with her associate degree next summer, Hinojosa hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from the college before starting a career with US Customs and Border Protection.
Cuellar said he is proud to provide resources to students like Hinojosa, so that they can continue their education and work towards their dreams.
“Our South Texas students deserve full support to respond to challenges that arise within the community, including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Cuellar. “This grant funding will ensure our children, neighbors and students have the resources they need to continue their education in a safe and welcoming environment. Thank you to South Texas College for their continued support. As your representative in Congress, I will continue providing the resources our students need.”
STC Board of Trustee Chair Rose Benavidez said in the last year, STC has received more than $70,000 that has gone to assisting students with tuition and other expenses that have allowed them to continue their education.
“We’ve been able to create a number of opportunities thanks to the funding that STC has received,” she said. “Our goal has been to give our students a seamless way back into education and not to have them choose other priorities over education. We want them to complete their certificate or degree programs. We are always looking for ways to be innovative and through the leadership of the board, STC administration and every employee at the college, we’ve done such a great job that we continue getting the (federal) help we, and our students, need. .”