DALLAS—Bethany Morales and Harold Aguirre encountered challenges when they began their studies at Dallas Baptist University. But with diplomas in hand, they look back on each one as a God-given opportunity to grow and mature.
Morales and Aguirre, who graduated with baccalaureate degrees last week from DBU, were the first recipients of DBU’s Hispanic Young Baptist Leaders Scholarship.
DBU established the scholarships in 2015, working in cooperation with the Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas and the Hispanic ministries office at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The scholarship provides coverage of half of student tuition and the full cost of room and board for two students throughout their undergraduate studies.
Other Texas Baptist schools followed, and now Convención promotes several scholarships.
Morales, who is from Floydada, felt homesick at times. Aguirre grew up much closer, in Fort Worth, but he still found the culture at the university different from what he had known.
In time, however, both students said they found a home at DBU.
Aguirre graduated with a double major in communication theory and intercultural studies.
“The majority of people have also lived in a bubble. It was just a different one” from the one he had known, Aguirre said. “Being here has allowed me to grow and do more for myself. So in terms of community, I’ve made some of my closest friends here.”
Professors Curtis Lee and Debra Hinson “really challenged me and pushed me to be the best I can be,” Morales said.
Her major in biology will take Morales back home to teach biology and anatomy, as well as coach several sports, for the Floydada school district.
Students note support of church and family
Both Morales and Aguirre also recognize the support church and family offered before starting at DBU.
Morales’ father, Armando, is the pastor of Calvary’s Cornerstone Fellowship in Floydada. After father and daughter heard about the scholarship at Congreso, they sought to learn more about the opportunity.
Aguirre’s mother, Magaly, pushed him to look at schools and apply for scholarships, he said. His home church, Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, also continuously urged him to pursue an education, he added.
On the basis of his undergraduate academic success, Aguirre was admitted into a master’s degree program at DBU, and the school offered him a job in the admissions office.
“Harold is an example of the education DBU is committed to give,” said David Reyes, director of student life. Reyes hopes other Hispanic students will find in Aguirre a guide to carry them through academic challenges.
The graduation of the first students to receive the Hispanic Young Baptist Leaders Scholarship marks a significant milepost—as well as a significant accomplishment for Morales and Aguirre, said Convención Executive Director Jesse Rincones. Since 2015, DBU has continued to award two Hispanic Young Leaders Scholarships every academic year, he noted.