Western Colorado University student Dalia Alejandre has a passion for teaching—especially in areas that are culturally diverse with a strong minority community. She is a junior studying Elementary Education with an emphasis in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education and a minor in Psychology.
Originally from La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico and raised in Cedaredge, Colo., Alejandre is a first-generation student, so she is the first in her family to attend a college or university.
“My main goal in life is to teach and make a difference in the lives of ‘minorities’—Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and Natives—meaning ‘less than,’” she said. “Due to this simple title children grow up thinking they will become the stereotype they’ve been placed under.”
Alejandre faced financial challenges when she decided to attend Western because she had no assistance from family. When she learned about the IME Becas scholarship, she immediately applied.
“The IME Becas was the first scholarship where I shared myself by allowing me to share my life story in my native tongue,” said Alejandre, who received $1,000 in assistance. “After receiving this scholarship, I felt a weight off my shoulders. The responsibility of paying college all falls on my shoulders and it’s beyond stressful.”
Western this year is offering another round of the IME Becas Scholarship in collaboration with the Mexican government. The program is designed to assist Hispanic students while they earn their degree.
The 2021 IME Becas Scholarship program offers up to $1,000 in funding to students of Mexican origin or descent. It includes students in Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) status and those under Colorado’s ASSET law (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow.) Students must have a financial need to qualify.
Empowering Students of Mexican Origin
Once again, the Mexican government awarded Western $5,000 through its IME Becas program—money which will be matched by Western’s Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success Abel Chávez, Ph.D. through his own fundraising. Chávez met with the Mexican Consulate in Denver July 29 to receive the scholarship check and to discuss issues which were important to both the university and its students, and a broader range of topics cross-cutting public education.
“The Consulate General of Mexico in Denver is very happy to have, for another year, the allocation of resources under this program to Western, in order to bring together educational resources directed to that segment of the student population, and to promote more students into college education,” said Rosa Elba Del Río Contreras, the Consul for Community Affairs.
“We hope to strengthen this collaboration with the university, in the scholarship program as well as in other aspects of education, to bring about joint efforts in order to empower students of Mexican origin so they can have a positive impact on their own communities.”
IME Becas—the Institute for Mexicans Abroad Scholarship—was launched by the Mexican government with the goal of forming partnerships with organizations and institutions in the United States. Its purpose is to collaborate with these entities to strengthen ties with the Mexican government and foster better integration in the society where these students live.
IME Becas offers two programs to achieve its goals. The first is through promotion of educational programs, alliances and fundraising. The other is by developing partnerships with educational institutions and other organizations by soliciting matching funds, which Chávez has done.
Yo Soy, Haré
“Through my own lived experiences, I know first-hand how much these resources mean for our students,” said Chávez. “I am very thankful to the Mexican Consulate and the Institute of Mexicans Abroad at Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs for believing in the commitment of our people at Western and the great work they do for our students.”
With the money, Western has developed a process where students can apply, drawing out the best in each applicant—as it did with Alejandre. Students submit a 500-word essay beginning with the words, “Yo soy,” and finishing with “haré.” Yo soy is Spanish for “I am.” In like manner, haré means, “I will do.” This gives students the opportunity to describe what they’ll do in life with their advanced education. The essay gives students to express who they are and what they will do as they grow in knowledge through instruction.
Creating More Opportunities
While a final number has not been determined, up to 10 scholarships may be awarded this year. Chávez hopes to make this fund—and similar programs for all other students—available annually through additional partnerships.
The funds don’t just benefit the student. They often impact the lives who will be touched in the future.
“I have a passion for helping others especially people who come from a similar background as I do,” explained Alejandre. “My goal includes graduating from Western, teaching in a diverse school, begin to change stereotypes and possibly go back to school for a master’s degree.”
Learn more about IME Becas and other scholarships at Western.
Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Mexican Consulate General