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Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Ten of the 11 recipients of U. Chicano scholarships. The fund was initiated in 1973, initially honoring four students a year.

The University of Utah's Chicano Scholarship Fund has been around more than three decades and has seen strong Hispanic students through to college degrees and success, setting examples in their communities.

About 200 members of the Latino community gathered Friday night to honor students who commit and contribute to the efforts of furthering equality, education and employment in the Hispanic community. Eleven students were awarded $1,000 scholarships during the emotional ceremony.

"We are not where we were, we are not where we want to be, and thank God we are not where we used to be," said recipient Pablo Garcia quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I think that means so much to our people because we have come so far and improved so much as a community, but we still have goals and we still have a long way to go."

The fund was initiated in 1973 by a group of U. Chicano faculty, staff and community members. Because of financial difficulties, lack of awareness and lack of support, Hispanic students at the university were few and far between.

The scholarship fund was to recognize outstanding accomplishments of the Chicano students attending the university as well as those just entering higher education. It continues through the support of donors and aims at recognizing students who promote cultural pride and advancement of the Chicano Latino community. Over years the scholarship committee has gone from awarding four students a year to awarding 10.

"We want the Latino community to be able to come and feel part of the university, feel like this is theirs and not be so estranged from it," said Manuel Romero, scholarship commit- tee chairman. His goal is to some day have enough money to provide full-ride scholarships to each recipient.

Though helpful, $1,000 can be just a drop in the bucket when trying to tackle the financial monster of a college education.

"It's just seed money — not enough to get them through school — but the most important part of this is that it's a reinforcement to them," said Margie Delgado, scholarship committee coordinator. "It gives them the initiative to pursue a degree."

During selection the scholarship committee looks at the students' GPAs, obstacles they have overcome and ways they have contributed to their community. To qualify, students also must have lived in Utah for at least five years.

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"I am very excited to continue my education, to represent my family and my community . . . who have all helped me get to where I am — I am very honored," said recipient Katherine Rubalcava.

Scholarships were awarded to high school seniors Brenda Juarez, Elizabeth Torres, Itziar Garcia and Alberto Polanco; undergraduates Joel Arvizo, Daniel Cairo, Pablo Garcia and Katherine Rubalcava; graduates Melissa Moreno and Sabrina Morales. Luz Robles, a past recipient, received a scholarship renewal.


E-mail: terickson@desnews.com