HARLINGEN- The dream of completing the Dental Hygiene Program at Texas State Technical College Harlingen was almost lost for Sylvia Hinojosa, but thanks to her drive and the generosity of others, she continues toward that goal.
A role model student, it is not rare to find her name on the college’s honor roll listings or the President’s Honor Roll, for which students must obtain a 4.0 Grade Point Average for the semester to qualify. She is also a member of the Student American Dental Hygiene Association where she serves as treasurer, and she is also a member of the Student Government Association. Hinojosa also completed the Dental Assisting Program at TSTC Harlingen.
“It has been a long and arduous road during the past year as a dental hygiene student,” she said. “Tuition and fees, as well as other school expenses such as books and scrubs, were quickly piling up, putting me in a difficult financial situation. I once worked full time while attending classes.”
Not only was Hinojosa short on time between school, activities, professional development and working, like many students, she found she was short on money to pay for her education.
“Although the school system labeled my status at part time, the dental hygiene program is really a full time deal,” Hinojosa said. “Clinic hours, homework, projects, exams, studying….it is never ending. It became very difficult to hold even hold a part time job! No matter how much I worked, I always came up short.
“It came to the point where I asked myself, ‘How can I afford to continue on with this journey?’” she said. “I already have outstanding loans waiting for me to pay off. I have already used my credit cards to cover fees that financial aid did not cover.”
Hinojosa also did not want to rely on her family to pay for her schooling, to which she is grateful for already supporting her in other ways that they could. She calls her mother her “biggest supporter and number one fan.”
Determined to find a solution to the financial problem, Hinojosa set out to find a way to pay for college. Her search started at TSTC Harlingen’s Financial Aid website, where she learned about the various scholarship opportunities, for which she skeptically applied.
“I never thought of applying for any additional aid simply because of my negativity, because I didn’t want to get a rejection letter stating, ‘thank you for applying, but’…the rest goes on,” she said.
However, she soon learned she had received both the STARS Scholarship and The Lozano Long Scholarship.
“I was just floored by how generous the Lozano Long family is, especially when it comes to education,” Hinojosa said. “It is organizations like The STARS Scholarship Fund and The Long Foundation that allow students to afford a post secondary education. It is all generous donors who give to TSTC students that dreams like mine a reality.”
STARS Scholarship Fund was established in October 2002 by L&F Distributors, a local company that handles Budweiser products. Proceeds from the a special annual concert benefit the scholarship program that aids South Texas students in pursuing higher education at the college or university of their choice. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic achievements, personal strengths, leadership skills and financial needs.
The Long Foundation was established in 1999 by Joe and Teresa Long as a nonprofit corporation. In 2001, the foundation began as a private family foundation with the main purpose of removing barriers to education. For more than a decade, The Long Foundation has matched TSTC Harlingen’s scholarship funds, dollar for dollar up to $100,000, providing more than $1 million in scholarship money to local students since the partnership began.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joe & Teresa Lozano Long for selecting me as a recipient for the Lozano Long Scholarship and The STARS organization,” Hinojosa said. “I find these scholarships to be such a blessing; and I appreciate their generosity. With my last spring semester quickly approaching, I can finally breathe a little easier knowing that my major expenses are covered.
“I can honestly say that a financial burden has been lifted off my back,” she said. “It is stories such as the Lozano Long family that inspire me to reach out to my community and give back in any way possible.”
To learn more about giving opportunities at TSTC Harlingen, contact Amy Lynch, Director for Institutional Advancement at (956) 364-4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Give to TSTC website.