Enrique Avalos Jr. and Enrique Avalos Sr. with Gisela De La Cruz.

Enrique Avalos Sr. and Enrique Avalos Jr. with Dominga Hernandez.

By Laura Nelson

Over the past eight years, Enrique Avalos Sr., family members and friends have raised more than $30,000 for scholarships and now support Sul Ross State Univ. students with three scholarships per year.

Enrique’s daughter Esmeralda Rosalia Avalos passed away unexpectedly in 2013. Esmi aspired to a career in teaching, but her health did not allow her to realize her dream. The family chose to celebrate her life by holding raffles to fund a scholarship for RGC teacher education students. The project grew quickly and soon the family added a scholarship for nursing students which, for this year, will be awarded at a later date. Now, they have added another scholarship for Midland College students who transfer to Sul Ross State Univ. Mr. Avalos’ older daughter, Vickie, started her higher education at Midland College. She continues to live there and works for the Texas Education Agency.

The first recipient of the new scholarship is Midland native Dominga Hernandez and she recently met with Enrique Avalos, Sr. and his son, Enrique Avalos, Jr. via Zoom. Ms. Hernandez said the Avalos scholarship was a lifesaver as another scholarship had run out and she did not want to borrow money to pay her tuition. She is in the teacher education program and at first planned to teach middle school math, but is now enthusiastic about elementary school aged children, especially third graders. She said, “I can’t have a bad day when I’m with children that age!” She plans to teach a few years, get some experience, and then explore graduate programs. Ms. Hernandez offered her heartfelt appreciation for the scholarship. Mr. Avalos replied that it fills his heart with pleasure to see young people get educated and wished her the best of everything.

Before the Avalos men met with Ms. Hernandez, the pair visited with this year’s education scholarship winner, Gisela De La Cruz, also via Zoom. A native of Del Rio, she is seeking Early Childhood-6th grade certification with plans to graduate in December 2021. She hopes to teach for a few years and then earn a master’s degree. She thanked the Avalos family for the support, saying the scholarship allows her to focus on her studies this semester without having to work. Ms. De La Cruz and a group of friends plan to repay in kind by starting a fund to help others finish their degrees.

Dr. Robert Muñoz, Vice President of Rio Grande College, said, “The generosity of the Avalos family will have a lasting impact for years to come as Dominga and Gisela mold young minds. At the heart of their giving it is about family, a hallmark of our University.”

It is difficult to say who is more appreciative, the recipients or the donors, but what is certain is that Sul Ross students continue to benefit from the generosity of the Avalos family and friends.