Two local Catholic universities have established the first local scholarship fund for Catholic higher education in Phoenix.
Raza Development Fund, in partnership with University of Mary and Benedictine University, has given scholarship money to help support about 20 first-generation Latino college students. In addition to the financial support, RDF will offer a leadership retreat for the recipients and a strategic planning process on the formation of Latino leaders through the Catholic universities.
Ryan Hanning, vice president of strategic planning at UMary, said the future of Catholic education in Arizona represented by the two Catholic universities provides an opportunity for forming a new generation of Latino leaders who will be able to serve the local needs of the community and the greater needs of society.
University of Mary, Tempe
Rene Rosales at (480) 290-7047
Benedictine University, Mesa
Tony Siebers at (602) 888-5507
“In Arizona, first-generation Latino college students represent a key demographic of emerging leaders whose limited access to higher education often limits their ability to graduate in critical professional fields,” Hanning said. Both Catholic universities are “uniquely positioned to meet the particular needs of first generation Latino College students through smaller faith-based settings.”
Tony Siebers, director of student of affairs at Benedictine University in Mesa, said the scholarship for Latino students is more than just funding.
“It allows me to coordinate and focus support efforts on the Latino students at large and the Latino community we have here,” Siebers said. He lauded the leadership of RDF in partnering with the universities.
“They are just amazing at their ability to coordinate existing resources and existing programs and help everybody to leverage their strengths and solve higher problems,” Siebers said. “Being a part of that is a huge benefit to our students.”
RDF has provided major financial funding to both BenU and UMary to help Latino students at a critical time, Siebers said.
“RDF has established themselves as an early adopter and one of the first organizations to get on board with privately supporting students seeking God in a Catholic environment in their college education,” Siebers said. “We’re hoping that others will step forward as well.”
Rene Rosales, admissions counselor at the University of Mary in Tempe, spoke about the partnership between UMary and Arizona State University.
“We do cater to ASU students through the partnership between University of Mary and ASU,” Rosales said. “Most of those students are taking only one class with us, but we do have fulltime students who are taking more than one class.”
The Latino scholarship is aimed at students who belong to the first generation in their families to attend college.
“They are getting an education which is the number one thing, but it’s an education from a Catholic university which is new here in the Valley,” Rosales said. “There is a big Latino Catholic community here in the Diocese of Phoenix.”
Through the application process at UMary, prospective students answer a number of questions the answers to which indicate whether or not there is eligibility for the Latino scholarship, Rosales said.