Spotlight Series: Taylor Ponce
December 7, 2018
Palo Alto College's annual scholarship fundraiser, ¡Una Nueva Celebración!, raised over $1,000,000 in committed funds to directly support students, faculty, and staff in continuing their education. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) gave five full-ride scholarships (tuition, room, and board) for Palo Alto College students to attend UTRGV upon completing their associate degrees. Taylor Ponce was selected as one of the scholarship recipients.
La Vernia High School graduate Taylor Ponce chose to attend Palo Alto College because there was a lot of diversity on campus, and her experience over the last couple of years has made her feel at home and opened doors to new opportunities.
"I love it here," said Ponce. "What matters is if I really like it; if I'm comfortable with my professors and everything. I've had several professors [at Palo Alto College] that I've really enjoyed and gotten a whole bunch out of the classes that they taught."
Planning to graduate with her associate degree in May 2019, Ponce knew she wanted to attend a university and complete a bachelor's degree, but she didn't know where she would take that next step. She decided to attend a UTRGV information session, where she learned about their vibrant campus culture and academics. She was selected on-the-spot as one of five students to receive a full-ride scholarship.
"When I woke up that morning, I did not think that I was going to get a full-ride scholarship to UTRGV," said Ponce. "It's amazing. I never thought that I would be a full-ride student. I didn't think that I could get a full-ride after two years at a community college."
Ponce says the hardest part of moving away to continue her education will be leaving her family behind. She has a close relationship with her parents and three younger sisters, but the opportunity will help push herself outside of her comfort zone.
"I'm a little nervous, a little upset that I'm leaving everybody behind," said Ponce. "I have to be the one to do something so that they know they can also do it too... I'm a big role model to my three younger sisters."
Aside from being a role model, Ponce is also motivated by her parents, who just recently completed college degrees of their own. Though they had started college years ago, they stopped to work and provide for their family.
"When you go to work and you're earning a paycheck, you don't want to give that up," said Ponce, adding that her parents have always taught the value of education to their daughters. "I want to go, get it done with, and not have to worry about it. They're really my inspiration."
Although she's always had support at home, Ponce wasn't sure how she was going to afford a bachelor's degree. She always hoped she could get her associate and bachelor's degrees without having to take out loans, but Ponce said she figured she would probably have to once she started at a university—even if she lived at home and attended a four-year college in San Antonio. With the full-ride scholarship from UTRGV, she is excited for all of the learning that will come with living on her own for the first time.
"I'm not used to living on campus and doing everything for myself... It's going to be an amazing experience," said Ponce.
UTRGV committed $815,000 in total to support the five full-ride UTRGV scholarships for graduating PAC students – Ellen Galindo, Taylor Ponce, Emily Harmon, Jonathan Guillen, and Gabino Olalde – while also committing 150 scholarships for employees to use toward their master's and doctoral degrees from UTRGV, funding for five research assistantships, and an additional $25,000 donation to the general PAC Scholarship Fund to support students currently attending Palo Alto College.
Funding provided through valuable partnerships, such as with UTRGV, provides scholarships to help Palo Alto College students attain their educational goals. The Alamo Colleges Foundation facilitates over 40 scholarship opportunities, which students attending Palo Alto College or anywhere in the Alamo Colleges District can apply for with a single application. The 2019 scholarship application will open on Jan. 7, 2019. To learn more, visit alamo.edu/pac/scholarships.