Thirteen Burges High School seniors earned academic scholarships to the University of Texas at El Paso — the most for any EPISD campus.
The students were notified of their scholarship during a surprise ceremony Wednesday that featured cheerleaders, the marching band and, of course, representatives from UTEP.
“Burges was the number one school in EPISD to get the most scholarships,” UTEP recruiter Danielle Garcia said. “With their outstanding academic caliber we are proud that they will be representing our institution, and we are honored to have them as part of our prestigious UTEP Scholars Excellence Program.”
“To say that I am honored would be an understatement,” Senior Seth Van Matre said. “This is a very big deal. I had no idea about this.”
Van Matre was awarded with the Tanzanite Award, which provides $2,000 per year or a total of $8,000, to go toward his college education.
“I am very glad that I am here, and I know that all the hard work I have done the last four years has led up to this moment,” Van Matre said. “I would like to thank everyone that has been on that journey, from my parents to my friends to the faculty and my teachers.”
If anyone knows about putting in a lot of work into academics it is definitely fellow student and valedictorian Jaymee Saldivar. She was presented with the Presidential Scholarship, the top scholarship for the program, totaling $32,000 over the span of four years.
“I am very strict with myself, with my schooling and my grades. I strive for excellence in my academic endeavors. I’ve put in the work all four years,” Saldivar said. “I feel very honored and privileged to receive this scholarship for my education.”
UTEP received more than 13,000 scholarship applications for the 2017 school year and only 330 incoming freshmen were awarded scholarships. Students are selected based on their academic achievements, test scores and overall school performance.
Senior Jaeden Fiocca beamed with pride, holding the scholarship certificate against his chest.
“I am very happy right now. This is first scholarship awarded to me. It’s very special,” Fiocca said.
Fiocca shared his advice for other students hoping to earn scholarships.
“Just keep trying. It’s long nights every single day studying and on weekends too,” Fiocca said. “You have to sacrifice a lot. It just comes down to doing everything to the best of your abilities.”
For Burges college readiness coordinator Arthur Beck, the award ceremony was a proud moment. He, along with the counseling staff and administration, dedicate a lot of time in making sure students are applying for scholarships and looking at long term goals.
“Free time is always difficult for these kids because they are involved in everything, but you really got to make the time to get these things done,” Beck said. “The students have earned these scholarships with all the hard work they’ve done here at Burges. They went above and beyond.”
The 13 Burges Mustangs who received UTEP academic scholarships are:
Seth Van Matre