Column: ¡Celebración! nets nearly $180,000 in support of students

November 12, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

At Palo Alto College, our collective focus is to ensure students have the resources they need to be successful throughout their educational journey. It's through the support of our community that we are able to provide many of these resources, from academic programs to support services that extend beyond the classroom.

Last week, we hosted our 10th annual fundraiser, ¡Celebración!, which historically has raised funds in support of student scholarships. This year alone, partners and community supporters came together to raise nearly $112,705, and of that, $67,500 will be matched dollar-for-dollar through two matching grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the course of its existence, ¡Celebración! has raised over $3.7 million to support students enrolled at Palo Alto College.

Though the majority of the funds are designated for scholarships, a portion will be allocated to support more community engagement programs as part of our 'college starts at birth' initiative, which seeks to help develop a college-going mindset from a young age. From hosting the first ever Palomino Pumpkin Patch to introducing Eggstravaganza — the largest egg hunt in south San Antonio — we are creating various access points to bring our neighboring communities to campus.

One such engagement opportunity will come in the form of a museum. Tentatively named "El Museo," this museum will be a beacon for cultural celebrations and educational programming, and it will provide opportunities for social reflections.

Set to open in 2020, the grand opening will include quinceañera and mariachi exhibits. Our immediate focus will be on South Texas and Mexico, with the goal to include exhibits containing artifacts and traditions from throughout Latin America. This future installation is currently being curated by a committee of faculty, staff, and students, as well as community members from across greater San Antonio.

As a son of a first-generation parent and growing up in a military family, I did not set foot on a college campus until I was a senior in high school. Education has ultimately changed the course of my life, and we want to provide a similar experience for those who never thought a college education would be attainable. Whether building relationships to raise scholarship funds, or engaging stakeholders to implement new initiatives, the invaluable support from our partners affirms our commitment to keeping students first.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and