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The Richard Cruz Painting Scholarship

Once a recipient of a fine arts scholarship at UTB himself, U.S. Army Capt. Richard Cruz says his experiences in a war zone have spurred him to give back to a community that once opened a door for him. Cruz has established a 10-year scholarship for upperclassmen majoring in painting.

“I earned a $500 scholarship as a freshman and it was very exciting, not to mention a great boost to my self esteem,” Cruz said via e-mail.

He was initially inspired by an older cousin when he was a boy, and has expressed himself through illustration since he was in elementary school.

“As a student there was no one better,” said Fine Arts Professor Carlos G. Gomez. “He was a gifted art student who could draw and paint at a very high level. One could argue that he was the best of his class, and perhaps the best draftsman UTB’s art program has ever had.”

Cruz is currently serving with an Army Area Support Group in Qatar and is eleven months into his one-year assignment. He previously served with the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq from the spring of 2003 to spring 2004. He expects his next assignment to be in Afghanistan. Cruz said the experience has given him a new outlook on his place in the world.

“I have seen things I never hoped to see and lost friends who did not deserve to be lost,” he said. “In my reflections over the last few years, I realized that I have the means to give back, to continue the cycle. I wanted to do something worthwhile and meaningful.”

Although his circumstances have limited his opportunities for illustration and painting at the present time, Cruz is creating art through his writing. He believes that art will always find a way to live. Cruz said he was inspired by the “future potential of all art students in the local area” to establish the scholarship. He wants to encourage the growth of fine arts in the community because of the benefits it reaps.

“The visual arts contribute to the community’s ‘outside the box’ thinking,” he wrote. “In other words Art, in all its forms, is a stepping stone to: new ideas, the past, the present, the future, understanding,meaning, connection, compassion, etc.”

Specified Award Criteria

  • The scholarship is open to all students who are a declared Art Major.
  • A student must be a US citizen or a US Resident Alien.
  • A student must enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours and take at least one art major course as part of the 12 hours.
  • The Scholarship is for $500.00 awarded once during a awarding semester.
  • The scholarship is renewable upon successful completion of each semester course work. Student must reapply for successive year award.
  • There is a specified GPA minimum of 3.0.
  • The student chosen for the Richard Cruz Scholarship should be someone who has demonstrated a commitment to painting and is a painting major.
  • The scholarship is open to freshman and senior art majors.

The Committee

  • The committee will be called The Richard Cruz Panting Scholarship Committee which will be compromised by members of the 2-d Visual Art Faculty and will award the scholarship based on the specified criteria—a portfolio of previous painting and a letter stating why one is worthy of the award.
  • The committee will be chaired by an art faculty member who will be responsible for tracking the recipient.
  • Only one scholarship per year will be awarded.  A current recipient must reapply each year through a completive process and satisfy the specified criteria again.

The Award

  • Student must submit a portfolio to the chair of the committee who will then share with the committee.
  • The Portfolio should contain samples of the student’s artwork (in painting), a bio, and a statement explaining why he or she is deserving of the scholarship.
  • Upon selection the student will then be send to the appropriate university department for processing.

Professor Carlos G. Gómez may also be contacted at
(956) 882-8805, or via e-mail at

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