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Valley Scholars

The Valley Scholars Program was established in 1997 to recognize and promote academic excellence by providing financial assistance, academic support services, mentoring, and leadership development to academically gifted and highly motivated students. The Program provides a foundation that empowers students to excel in their academic achievements and to become leaders that will make significant contributions to their communities.

The Program recruits academically talented graduates from Hidalgo and Starr County and offers support services through scholarships, advisement, registration, and participation in the South Texas College Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

Over the past twenty years, the program has helped more than 800 students and looks forward to accepting the next class of Valley Scholars this fall. All net proceeds from “A Night with the Stars” will benefit Valley Scholars Program scholarships.

Alumni Success Stories

Shalimar Madrigal

Class One

Shalimar is currently working as the Director of Marketing for the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. She graduated from South Texas College with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and from Emerson College in Boston as Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism.

Testimonial:
“The Valley Scholars Program provided me a great education and kept me close to home.  The program also provided a win-win situation that positioned me well for the future.”

Ada Karina Vela

Class One

Ada is currently the Head Pharmacist of CVS in Edinburg. She graduated from South Texas College in 1999 with an Associate of Applied Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. She then attended the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). After spending one year at UTPA she was accepted into the College of Pharmacy at the University of Houston.

Testimonial:
“Due to the tremendous support I received, I was the first in my entire family to earn a college degree. The Valley Scholars opened my eyes that a college education was possible.”

Belinda Hernandez

Class Two

Belinda is in her third post graduate year of her medical residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSCSA). She received her Medical Degree from UTHSCSA in Internal Medicine. Belinda graduated from South Texas College with an Associate of Science in Biology and transferred to the University of Texas-Pan American to receive her Bachelor of Science in Biology.

Testimonial:
“Being part of the Valley Scholars Program provided me with the essential support in order to achieve my goal of earning a degree in medicine. The Program provided me with a mentor support system during times when I faced academic and financial obstacles.”

Christopher O. Park

Class Two

Christopher is currently a fourth grade teacher with the Donna Independent School District. He has been teaching for seven years. Chris received an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice from South Texas College (STC). After attending STC he received his Bachelor of Arts in Police Administration and Sociology from the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). He started teaching after receiving his Masters from UTPA in Sociology. During his time teaching he continued his education at Grand Canyon University where he received his second Masters Degree in Educational Administration.

Testimonial:
“I had the privilege of being a part of the Valley Scholars Program, which helped fund my Associate’s Degree at STC.  I have not forgotten how the Valley Scholars Program helped me set goals to start my professional career.”

Judith Hernandez

Class Three

Judith completed an Associates Degree in Biology at South Texas College in 2001. She transferred to the University of Texas-Pan American and completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She went on to receive her Medical Degree in 2008 from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Testimonial:
“It was a blessing to have received the Valley Scholars scholarship and it was my mentor, Dr. Ramiro R. Casso, who believed in me, inspired, motivated, and encouraged me to continue my education to pursue a medical degree.”

Melanie Palomo

Class Three

Melanie is currently an Assistant Criminal District Attorney with Hidalgo County.  She received an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from South Texas College (STC). After attending STC Melanie transferred to Texas A&M University-Kingsville and received a Bachelor of Science in Criminology. Melanie went on to obtain a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from of Law from Thurgood Marshall School and is currently licensed with the Texas State Bar.

Testimonial:
“The Valley Scholars Program was the jumpstart to my education… they made sure that, when it came to my education, no rock was left unturned. This program planted the seed and helped me to accomplish what I have accomplished.”

Diana Perez

Class Four

Currently, Diana serves as the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) Coordinator. She coordinates the reporting of district, student, staff, and financial data to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Diana received an Associate of Arts in Business Administration from South Texas College, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), and a Masters in Business Administration from UTPA.

Testimonial:
“The program allowed me to mature into a more responsible young adult… in addition, the program proves that hard work and effort is both appreciated and rewarded.”

Constance A. Salinas

Class Four

Constance completed an Associate of Science in Biology and an Associate of Arts in Secondary Education at South Texas College in 2002.  She transferred to the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and completed a Bachelors Degree in Biology with a Minor in Kinesiology.  She plans to continue her education by seeking a Masters Degree in Leadership Education at the UTPA. She is currently an 8th grade teacher at Lorenzo de Zavala Middle School with La Joya Independent School District.

Testimonial:
“I feel that my experience as a Valley Scholar prepared and inspired me to set high goals and aim for a successful career.”

Jose Tomas Calzadias

Class Five

Tomas is the Assistant Branch Manager at International Bank of Commerce. He received an Associate of Science in Biology from South Texas College (STC). Tomas continued his education and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Sciences & PublicService Leadership from the University of Houston Clear Lake.

Testimonial:
“The Valley Scholars Program at STC opened the door to my education by providing me with the resources, support, and guidance necessary to become successful.”

Kynda Nicole Gatton

Class Six

Kynda graduated from South Texas College with an Associate of Science in Biology in 2004.  She transferred to the University of Texas at San Antonio to receive her Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is currently applying to graduate school and would like to major in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Baptist Health System of Health Professions.

Testimonial:
“I have to thank the Valley Scholars Program for the guidance and encouragement to pursue every avenue to further my education.”

Amir Esmaeili

Class Seven

Amir is a Staff Physical Therapist at the Rio Grande Outpatient Rehabilitation Center in McAllen. He graduated in 2004 from South Texas College with an Associate of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.  He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to complete his pre-requisite coursework with a concentration in Kinesiology.  He then transferred to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he received his Bachelor of Science in Health Care Sciences and his Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Testimonial:
“As Class Seven President, I learned great leadership skills and I know that the help I received as a Valley Scholar student would not have been possible without the assistance of our community, mentors, and sponsors.”

Daniel Morin

Class Seven

Daniel is an Engineer at the General Motors Proving Ground in Missouri. Daniel attended South Texas College and obtained an Associate of Science in Engineering. After receiving his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas-Pan American he received an internship at General Motors, following which he was hired as a full time employee. Daniel plans to continue his education and receive his graduate degree.

Testimonial:
“In the Valley Scholars Program, I gained experience in team work, leadership, and responsibility through my duties as Vice-President and President of the Program…The Valley Scholars Program has given me the support and skills to pursue my educational and career goals.”

Mario Segura

Class Eight

Mario is currently a registered nurse at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. He attended South Texas College and received an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. He is planning on attending the University of Texas-Pan American to receive his Bachelors in Nursing. His final goal is to become a Certified Nurse Anesthetist.

Testimonial:
“This program helped me overcome my shyness and introduced me to mentors in my field of interest, which has both helped by giving me self-confidence and the ability to make more educated decisions.”

Jose Luis Caraveo

Class Nine

Jose Luis graduated from South Texas College with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Math and Criminal Justice with a Minor in Spanish at the University of Texas-Pan American.  After completion of a Bachelors Degree, he plans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and continue his education by pursuing a Masters Degree in Mathematics.  He later plans to work as a United States Customs Agent.

Testimonial:
“The Valley Scholars Program provided me with leadership skills. I also learned to manage my time and value friendships.”

Cynthia E. Lopez

Class Ten

Cynthia graduated from South Texas College with an Associates Degree in Mathematics. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics at the University of Texas-Pan American.  After completion of her Bachelors Degree, she plans to earn a Masters Degree in Mathematics and hopes to become a professor at a university in Texas.

Testimonial:
“The Valley Scholars Program helped me in so many ways as a new college student. I met new people and formed special bonds with other Valley Scholars. This was no ordinary program. It was more like a family to me, and I am very grateful for it.”

Alexandro Sarabia

Class Ten

Since receiving his associates in Psychology from STC, Alexandro went on to receive a Bachelors in Psychology and a Bachelors in Sociology from UTPA. In 2011 he received his Masters in Clinical Psychology, and has now returned to STC as an instructor in the Psychology department!

Testimonial:
“I feel proud that I attended STC and that I was part of Valley Scholars…Valley Scholars is a phenomenal program in which I met many people and was very involved in the community.”

Community Service

The Valley Scholars participate in numerous community service projects every year. This is our way of giving back to the community who graciously supports our students.

  • South Texas College Student Ambassadors
  • Keep McAllen Beautiful Events
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • McAllen Chamber of Commerce Partnership
  • Relay for Life for American Cancer Society
  • Annual Christmas for Kids Drive
  • Phi Theta Kappa Events
  • South Texas Senior Summit
  • Food Bank of the RGV
  • Rio Grande Children’s Home
  • Great American Clean-Up
  • Annual Christmas Toy Drive
  • Reading is the Future Events

Valley Scholars

Valley Scholars Program

P.O. Box 9701
McAllen, Texas 78502
(956) 872-1952

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Testimonials

In the Valley Scholars Program, I gained experience in team work, leadership, and responsibility through my duties as Vice-President and President of the Program…The Valley Scholars Program has given me the support and skills to pursue my educational and career goals.

–Daniel Morin, Class Seven

I feel proud that I attended STC and that I was part of Valley Scholars…Valley Scholars is a phenomenal program in which I met many people and was very involved in the community.

– Alexandro Sarabia, Class Ten

The Valley Scholars Program helped me in so many ways as a new college student. I met new people and formed special bonds with other Valley Scholars. This was no ordinary program. It was more like a family to me, and I am very grateful for it.

–Cynthia E. Lopez, Class Ten

The Valley Scholars Program provided me with leadership skills. I also learned to manage my time and value friendships.

–Jose Luis Caraveo, Class Nine

This program helped me overcome my shyness and introduced me to mentors in my field of interest, which has both helped by giving me self-confidence and the ability to make more educated decisions.

–Mario Segura, Class Eight

As Class Seven President, I learned great leadership skills and I know that the help I received as a Valley Scholar student would not have been possible without the assistance of our community, mentors, and sponsors.

–Amir Esmaeili, Class Seven

I have to thank the Valley Scholars Program for the guidance and encouragement to pursue every avenue to further my education.

–Kynda Nicole Gattonme, Class Six

The Valley Scholars Program at STC opened the door to my education by providing me with the resources, support, and guidance necessary to become successful.

–Jose Tomas Calzadias, Class Five

I feel that my experience as a Valley Scholar prepared and inspired me to set high goals and aim for a successful career.

–Constance A. Salinas, Class Four

The program allowed me to mature into a more responsible young adult… in addition, the program proves that hard work and effort is both appreciated and rewarded.

–Diana Perez, Class Four

It was a blessing to have received the Valley Scholars scholarship and it was my mentor, Dr. Ramiro R. Casso, who believed in me, inspired, motivated, and encouraged me to continue my education to pursue a medical degree.

–Judith Hernandez, Class Three

The Valley Scholars Program was the jump start to my education... they made sure that, when it came to my education, no rock was left unturned. This program planted the seed and helped me to accomplish what I have accomplished.

–Melanie Palomo, Class Three

I had the privilege of being a part of the Valley Scholars Program, which helped fund my Associate’s Degree at STC. I have not forgotten how the Valley Scholars Program helped me set goals to start my professional career.

–Christopher O. Park, Class Two

Being part of the Valley Scholars Program provided me with the essential support in order to achieve my goal of earning a degree in medicine. The Program provided me with a mentor support system during times when I faced academic and financial obstacles.

–Belinda Hernandez, Class Two

Due to the tremendous support I received, I was the first in my entire family to earn a college degree. The Valley Scholars opened my eyes that a college education was possible.

–Ada Karina Vela, Class One

The Valley Scholars Program provided me a great education and kept me close to home. The program also provided a win-win situation that positioned me well for the future.

–Shalimar Madrigal, Class One