Harold Aguirre and Bethany Morales walked across the stage during Dallas Baptist University’s (DBU) Commencement in May as the first two recipients of the DBU Hispanic Young Baptist Leaders Scholarship to become DBU graduates. Both students overcame challenges to pursue their academic goals and give thanks to God for providing the opportunities.
Pursuing higher education can be a challenge for many students in Texas. In order to achieve educational aspirations, many families must make significant financial sacrifices. In 2015, leaders at DBU created the Hispanic Young Baptist Leaders Scholarship for two deserving students, which included 50 percent of tuition, along with full coverage of room and board for four years.
“For many years, we have sought to provide greater access and affordable higher education to families who send their children to DBU,” said DBU President Adam Wright. “We are so pleased that countless students have gone on to become Christian servant-leaders in so many different vocational contexts around the world.”
DBU created the scholarship through a partnership with the Texas Baptists Office of Hispanic Ministries. Other universities have created similar scholarships for Hispanic students.
For Morales, a biology major and soon-to-be high school biology teacher in Floydada, the greatest influence in her pursuit of higher education was her grandmother. A Mexican native, Morales’ grandmother finished her bachelor’s degree in her mid-50s. Seeing her grandmother accomplish such a significant goal gave Morales the drive to pursue the same for herself. Her father, Armando Morales, serves as pastor of Calvary’s Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Floydada.
Morales reflected on God’s provision from the very first moment she came to DBU. “I felt the Lord’s presence when I stepped on campus,” she said. After registering for classes and going through orientation, she remembered going home and praying for God to provide. A few weeks later, she found out she was the recipient of a new scholarship for Hispanic student leaders.
“This scholarship was such a blessing to my family,” Morales said. “It means DBU wants to see our Hispanic culture thrive and push forward. They have hope in Hispanics—that we can do great things. We are equipped to be the people we want to be and we can achieve the goals set before us.”
Morales was involved in Kappa Gamma and intramurals during her time as a student and enjoyed the relationships she built both with classmates and professors.
“Being surrounded by people who love Christ made it easier in the transition. People here made it feel like home,” she said.
Aguirre, who earned a double major in Communication Theory and Intercultural studies, was encouraged by his youth minister, Anyra Cano-Valencia of Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, to consider DBU. He had plans to attend a state school and study construction management. When Cano-Valencia told him about a new scholarship for Hispanic students, he prayed and felt led to apply to DBU. “I saw God’s favor and provision and I knew He wanted me to be here,” Aguirre said.
During his time as a student, Aguirre was involved in a fraternity and served as president of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS). He built lasting friendships and grew in leadership opportunities. This summer, Aguirre will begin a full-time job as an admissions counselor for the university. He also began working on a master’s degree in bilingual education at DBU.
Aguirre was inspired to pursue higher education after watching his older sister become the first person in his family to graduate from college, and at an accelerated pace of just two-and-a-half years. As one of three college-aged students in his family when he started school, Aguirre expressed gratitude to DBU for the scholarship to help provide for his education.
“As a Hispanic student, it’s humbling to see how invested DBU is in making sure that we pursue good things for our lives and careers,” he said. “It feels good to know they are committed to bringing more students along for the same opportunities.”
Both Aguirre and Morales encouraged younger Hispanic students to pursue higher education if God calls them to it. “Seek the Lord’s guidance, if it’s aligned with God’s will he will make it possible,” Morales said. “Also, make a goal and plan out your steps to achieve that goal. Don’t let finances hinder you because the Lord will provide.”