LULAC presents $1,000 scholarship to student in need

Jerry Richard Trevino, Denilson Mendez, Sandra Carmona, and Terry Richard Trevino

When Denilson Mendez was 4, his mother brought him to the United States so he could have a better life. 

“Life in Guatemala is not easy, and it started to get unsafe,” said Mendez, a sophomore majoring in systems engineering at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  

Because Mendez falls under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he is classified as a nonresident and pays out-of-state tuition and fees.

The university’s student chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) donated $1,000 to Mendez on Oct. 26 to help him pay for his education.

Sandra Carmona-Garcia, president of UALR’s student chapter of LULAC, said the group was moved to help such a deserving student who is so devoted to his education.  

“It’s always good to see the community and the school help the Hispanic community to succeed and help these students move ahead in their academic achievements,” Carmona-Garcia said.

Mendez’s situation was brought to LULAC’s attention by an engineering professor, and the group is still looking for ways to help him pay for schooling, said Dr. Terry Richard, a professor of sociology and faculty adviser to LULAC.

“We just want to be able to help pay tuition for this bright student who only wants to work and contribute to our society and community,” Richard said.

Coming to America

Mendez grew up in Long Beach, California. In 2012, he moved to Arkansas with his mother and younger sister. He graduated from McClellan High School in 2015.

Now he dreams of becoming an engineer and fulfilling his mother’s dream of him getting a college education. He chose UALR because of its great engineering program, small class sizes, and proximity to home, but paying for his education has been a struggle.

“I have spent 15 out of my 19 years being in the United States. I don’t even remember living in another country. I live five minutes from here, and I am still considered an out-of-state resident,” he said.

To pay for his education, Mendez works 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at a factory, except for Tuesdays. On those days, he arrives at 6:30 p.m., so he can attend his physics lab.

He cannot afford to take a full class load and is taking eight credits this semester. With summer classes and a full-time job, Mendez hopes to finish his bachelor’s degree in five or six years.

“It’s a marathon at this point,” he said.

After he graduates, Mendez wants to work for the FBI. He is grateful to LULAC for helping him pay for his education.

“It’s a relief since I am not able to apply for many scholarships,” he said. “This money gives me more time to keep studying.”

In the upper right photo, UALR’s student chapter of LULAC donated $1,000 to Denilson Mendez to help him pay for his education. Pictured, from left to right, are Jerry Richard Trevino, Denilson Mendez, Sandra Carmona, and Terry Richard Trevino. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UALR Communications. 

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