Port awards scholarships; Program is in its second year

Jun. 2—The Brownsville Navigation District has selected 32 graduating seniors from area high schools to receive $1,000 scholarships through the 2021 Port of Brownsville Scholarships program.

The scholarship program, in its second year, is open to all post-secondary academic majors and trades. The winners were judged by their academic performance, community involvement, extracurricular activities and work experience, and also on the strength of essays they were required to write as part of their scholarships applications.

The students, who will receive their scholarship money once they enroll in a college or technical school, come from 16 public and private high schools in the Brownsville-Los Fresnos area.

From the Brownsville Independent School District, 2021 scholarship winners are Yuceiry Arias and Horacio Sanchez from Brownsville Early College High School; Naydelin Castillo and Jesus Pruneda, Gladys Porter Early College High School; Halil Hamscho and Tofik Hamscho, Homer Hanna Early College High School; Sarah Guerra and Lizeth Sanchez, James Pace Early College High School; Oscar Daniel Marquez and Nicole Saleen Zamora, Lopez Early College High School; Megan Howard and Juan Sanchez, Simon Rivera Early College High School; and Damari Garcia and Mathew de Lucio, Veterans Memorial Early College High School.

Scholarship winners from First Baptist School are Esteban Cavazos and Grecia Macias, and from the Harmony School of Innovation, Carlos Chavez and Antonio Vallejo. From Idea Public Schools, Jocelyn Leyva and Olivia Valdez from Idea Frontier College Preparatory, and Liliana Acosta and Zoe Vasquez from Idea Brownsville College Preparatory, were chosen for scholarships.

Jubilee Academies students who made the cut were Anahi Avalos and Yolana Perez of Jubilee Brownsville. Also tapped for scholarships were Aliya Brown and Marcus James Molina from Los Fresnos High School, Halima Holly Dervisevic and Isabella Douglas from Saint Joseph Academy, Valeria Elizabeth Cardenas and Ludwika Mendiola from South Texas ISD Medical Professions, and Arlan Nunez and Diego Trevino from Valley Christian High School.

Jorge Montero, communication director for the port, said BISD and Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District provided the port with a list of finalists whose applications and essays were reviewed by the port's scholarship program committee, which chose the winning candidates. The winners from the other schools were selected by counselors at their respective schools and submitted to the port, he said.

BND commissioners created the scholarship program last year at the suggestion of Christine Reed, librarian at Porter High School and wife of BND immediate past chairman John Reed. To date, the program has awarded $64,000 scholarships to 64 high school seniors.

Current BND Chairman Sergio Tito Lopez said academic performance isn't the only metric taken into consideration in awarding the scholarships. Rather, the program seeks to reward well rounded students, he said, congratulating this year's winners on behalf of the BND board and port staff. Helping deserving students pursue higher education and career goals through the program is a vital investment and a way for the port to give back to the community, Lopez said.

"I think it's important not just to invest in our port and in the businesses that are at the port, I think it is essentially important to invest in the future of these young men and women, because they are our future," he said. "They're our future leaders. ... We want to be able to say that if that particular person made it somewhere, that we had a little bit to do with their success, even if it's just a little tiny thing."