Spotlight Series: Gabino Olalde

December 11, 2018

Public Relations

Palo Alto College's annual scholarship fundraiser, ¡Una Nueva Celebración!, raised over $1,000,000 in committed funds to directly support students, faculty, and staff in continuing their education. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) gave five full-ride scholarships (tuition, room, and board) for Palo Alto College students to attend UTRGV upon completing their associate degrees. Gabino Olalde was selected as one of the scholarship recipients.

Adjusting to a new culture and learning an entirely different language is no small feat. Add a college education on top of that, and you have what would seem an insurmountable obstacle for some. Although the odds seem stacked against him, Gabino Olalde is determined to overcome any adversity that comes his way.

Having immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2003, Olalde still finds difficulty in adjusting to a new culture. Despite that challenge, he willed his way through grade and high school and now finds himself pursuing an associate degree at Palo Alto College.

As he gets closer and closer to obtaining his degree, Olalde is sure to keep his eye on the prize; because to him, that degree has far greater value than many might think.

"Getting an education is probably one of the most important things in my life, and everyone's life too," said Olalde. "Education is really valuable not only because it helps you get a better job or get ahead in life, but also because you gain that knowledge to help your kids and help the future generations as well."

The scholarship from UTRGV provides an opportunity for Olalde to focus on the education that he so greatly values without worrying about how to pay for it.

"I was really worried about getting loans and being in debt, so the scholarship means the world to me," said Olalde.

He is grateful for this opportunity, and understands that he and his family would not be in this position without the help from his father.

"When he first came to the states, he came here illegally," said Olalde. "He was working low-end jobs, met the right people, and he became legal... He did everything possible for us to come here the right way. I just want to do everything possible to see that his adversity was worth it."

Though things may seem tough at times, Olalde knows it is important to persevere. That's a lesson taught to him by his high school cross country coach, who continues his own personal fight against bone marrow cancer.

"He's one of the reasons I keep going," said Olalde. "He was feeling a lot of pain... but he was still out there. If he can that, I can do a lot more."

Olalde says he will miss his family when he moves to his new school in Fall 2019, but he is ready and looking forward to what's ahead.

"I think missing my parents and my little brother will probably be the biggest obstacle," Olalde said. "Other than that, I'm really excited."

UTRGV committed $815,000 in total to support the five full-ride UTRGV scholarships for graduating PAC students – Ellen Galindo, Taylor Ponce, Emily Harmon, Jonathan Guillen, and Gabino Olalde – while also committing 150 scholarships for employees to use toward their master's and doctoral degrees from UTRGV, funding for five research assistantships, and an additional $25,000 donation to the general PAC Scholarship Fund to support students currently attending Palo Alto College.

Funding provided through valuable partnerships, such as with UTRGV, provides scholarships to help Palo Alto College students attain their educational goals. The Alamo Colleges Foundation facilitates over 40 scholarship opportunities, which students attending Palo Alto College or anywhere in the Alamo Colleges District can apply for with a single application. The 2019 scholarship application will open on Jan. 7, 2019. To learn more, visit