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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024
Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024

Regents’ Scholarships help first-generation students

 
 

After high school seniors receive their acceptance letters, the challenge of paying for college can sometimes become a daunting reality.
Established in 2003 under then president. Robert Gates, The Regents’ Scholarship Program was created to alleviate financial struggles of incoming first-generation college students. It allots students up to $5,000 each semester for up to four years, which can be utilized for tuition, books and room and board.
Casey Gros, coordinator of the Regents’ Scholars Organization, said the program will soon see its 10th cohort of students. The program impacts approximately 600 students. Gros noted her excitement for the expected four hundred additional freshmen this fall.
“With this program, what we really aim to do is give students an opportunity to have someone here to help them and have someone point them in the right direction,”Gros said.
Heriberto Rodriguez, junior computer engineering major and Regents’ Scholarship recipient, said although he is a first-generation college student, he has felt “capable of succeeding” in college and “going up to those challenges and passing right through.”
“The advisors try to prepare us with seminars and workshops to touch on how to be a successful Aggie,” Rodriguez said. “They want us to have a successful experience here at A&M and try to accommodate to us as much as they can.”
The Regents’ Scholarship requires that students live on campus their first year and participate in academic success programs designated by their college.
Scholarship recipients are also provided with different leadership opportunities, regionally and within the program itself.
“Our slogan is ‘pay it forward,'” Rodriguez said. “That simply means to devote your time to the community.”
Abigail Martinez, junior urban
planning major and Regents’ Scholarship recipient, was selected to be an orientation counselor for the required orientation that takes place during Gig ‘Em week.
“Being involved as an orientation counselor helped me grow in my leadership skills and learn more about the scholarship,” Martinez said. “As an orientation counselor, we want to tell the freshman more about it so they can be grateful for it. A lot of the regent scholars wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that scholarship.”
The program is funded by institutional allocations in the University’s budget, however many of the scholarships are created through endowments.
Gros said a $100,000 gift endows a regent scholarship. Of the 12 endowed gifts, one was provided by Texas A&M graduates, Lea and Loftus Fitzwater.
Loftus Fitzwater, Class of 1993, described his and his wife’s decision to be donors as an “intersection of life events,” after undergoing a personal loss.
“We had a baby taken late in term,” Loftus said. “We kind of felt like we would be sending her to school anyway,”
Fitzwater said both he and his wife had always wanted to give back and wanted to promote what had made them successful.
“We really felt like education is the key for anyone,” Fitzwater said.
The Fitzwaters found assistance in 2007 from the Texas A&M Foundation, which matched donors to their causes.
DeAndre Ward, senior mechanical engineering major and recipient of The Fitzwater Endowed Regents’ Scholarship, expressed his appreciation for having the opportunity his parents did not have.
“It’s taken a lot of stress off, because I don’t have to find money in other ways,” Ward said. “It’s so nice that someone would be so generous, and maybe someday I can be that generous.”
Fitzwater said their donation has given an “internal satisfaction” in which they can see tangible results.
“To me, if you affect one life through education, than they will pass this down,” Fitzwater said.

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