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Vela Family Establishes Endowment Scholarship at UTB
 
http://www.utb.edu/newsinfo/PublishingImages/releases/AUGUST2013/Vela%20scholarship%20announcement%20Archer%20Fellows%20w%20CongBlanca Vela (left) and Dr. Juliet V. García listen to Vela’s granddaughter, Carolina Vela, as she introduces her grandmother.
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS
AUG. 20, 2013 – Family and friends of former United States Federal Judge Filemón Vela gathered in Salón Cassia of The University of Texas at Brownsville for the announcement of the Blanca and Filemón Vela Scholarship Endowment at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
 
“Today we are celebrating the philanthropy of a family who knows that education can transform lives,” said Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President. “For generations, they have believed it is their duty to promote literacy, encourage students to go to college, and, through their financial support, offer a helping hand to those in need.”
 
Blanca Vela, Judge Vela’s widow, established the endowed scholarship of $50,000 to honor her late husband, a lifelong supporter of education. The endowment was established in July to benefit students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts at UTB.
 
Along with their mother, the three Vela children, Congressman Filemón Jr. who serves as U.S. Congressman for the 34th District of Texas, Rafael Eduardo and Sylvia Adriana, have worked to grow the  fund over the last few years with an annual golf tournament and 60-mile bike ride event.
 
Blanca Vela, who served as Brownsville’s first female mayor from 1999 to 2003, thanked the supporters and volunteers of the fundraisers. She said her husband was tireless in his efforts to inspire children to continue their educations.
 
Members of the Vela family join Dr. Juliet V. García and Archer Fellows Gracie Cano and Alexandra Rodriguez after the announcemeMembers of the Vela family join Dr. Juliet V. García and Archer Fellows Gracie Cano and Alexandra Rodriguez after the announcement of the Vela gift to the Archer Fellows Scholarship.
“Filemón always felt he needed to get out of the courtroom and go to the schools to encourage the youngsters to pursue their educations,” she said.
 
Celebrated along with the endowment scholarship presentation, the Vela family made an additional gift to support the UTB Archer Fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year. The gift amount of $10,000 was awarded to Alexandra Edith Rodriguez and Maria Graciela Cano. 
 
Rodriguez, a senior finance and international marketing major, will spend this fall as an intern at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Cano, a 2014 spring semester Archer Fellow, is a senior history major; she has applied for her internship to be with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution or the Wilson Center.
 
“I am so grateful to the Vela family for this generous gift,” said Rodriguez. “Being able to go to Washington as an intern has been a dream for me, and now this is going to happen, and I know it will open so many doors to my future.”
 
Congressman Filemón Vela addressed the two Archer Fellows.
 
“You are going to be inspired by your experiences in Washington; and by the same token, you will have an impact on the people there,” said Congressman Vela.
 
To date, 110 endowed scholarships have been established at UT Brownsville. Last year’s scholarship awards totaling more than $450,000 went to 521 students.
 
Congressman Filemón Vela joins fall 2013 Archer Fellow Alexandra Edith Rodriguez (left) and spring 2014 Archer Fellow Maria GracCongressman Filemón Vela joins fall 2013 Archer Fellow Alexandra Edith Rodriguez (left) and spring 2014 Archer Fellow Maria Graciela Cano (right).
Judge Vela passed away at the age of 68 on April 13, 2004. A federal judge since 1980, Vela was named a Distinguished Alumnus for Texas Southmost College in 1998.
 
“We have faith in you,” Ralph Vela said to the two Archer Fellows. “I will tell you as my dad always would say: ‘Don’t forget where you came from.’”
 
For more information or to make a donation to the Blanca and Filemon Vela Endowed Scholarship, contact Angie Gonzalez, University Relations Officer, at 956-882-4324 or angie.gonzalez@utb.edu.

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