With a new scholarship, an Eastern trustee and his family step up for students.
Uriel Iñiguez and his family left Michoacán, Mexico for Washington state when Uriel was just a boy. With hard work, tenacity and the support of his family, Iñiguez succeeded in school, earning a degree from tiny Connell High. He then enrolled at Eastern, where, in 1988, he became the first person among his 11-child family to earn a university degree.
Four of his ten siblings followed suit by earning their own degrees at Eastern. The other five did the same at other universities here in Washington.
Iñiguez, now the director of community relations for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, since 2014 has been a member of EWU’s Board of Trustees. His service to EWU’s governing body is just one of the ways that he and the Eagle side of the family are giving back to the university that, as they see it, gave so much to them.
“To me, this university changed our lives,” Iñiguez says of Eastern. “This is not even a dream, because we couldn’t dream it. Could you tell me when I was in high school or even, you know, in Mexico growing up that ‘Oh, yeah you are going to be a trustee of a university that you graduated from?’”
Iñiguez’s service to EWU’s governing body is just one of the ways that he and the Eagle side of the family are giving back to the university that, as they see it, gave so much to them.
More recently, Iñiguez and his sister, Alexia, have led the family’s drive to endow a scholarship that will help other hard-working Latinx youth begin their own Eastern success stories. The first recipient of EWU’s Iñiguez Family Endowed Scholarship, Lizbeth Mendoza, is herself a first-generation college student who, like the Iñiguez siblings, possesses a single-minded determination to succeed.
Mendoza grew up in Pasco. She transferred to EWU from Walla Walla Community College last fall. As a student at WWCC, she maintained a 3.7 GPA while juggling full-time classes and a work schedule that, at times, exceeded 72 hours a week. That pluck and determination, plus Mendoza’s long history of volunteering in her community, made her a natural for their scholarship, the Iñiguez family says.
For her part, Mendoza, a 22-year-old business and accounting major, says the experience of the Iñiguez family makes the scholarship that much more special: “I feel like they are doing great work, just encouraging more first-generation students to keep pursuing their dreams. They give me motivation. I look up to them.”
The scholarship, she adds, will for the first time allow her to focus solely “on my education and being involved in school.”
You don’t need a fortune to make a similar difference in the life of a deserving student, Iñiguez says. “You can get a scholarship started with $5,000, that’s what we did,” noting that family members have also endowed a similar scholarship at Central Washington University and Columbia Basin College.
— Want to learn how you, too, can help? Visit us at: ewu.edu/give
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