Alumni Connection: Hispanic Heritage Month
Hardin-Simmons University’s Hispanic Alumni Group is a group of Hispanic alumni who have gathered themselves for fellowship, to connect with HSU friends, and to award a scholarship each year.
Group member Dalinda Rodriguez Avila ’69 was involved in the Speech and Hearing Club as well as the Baptist Student Union throughout her time at Hardin-Simmons.
“I attribute my success in life to the fine education I obtained at HSU and the relationships that I established there,” shared Avila. “The Hispanic Alumni Group has given me an opportunity to meet other alumni and visit with my wonderful HSU friends.”
The group stays connected with each other and with current students through their financial giving and annual scholarship for Hispanic students.
“Gathering with this group has made me aware of the need to pay forward the generosity of those organizations and individuals who helped me financially when I was a student,” said Avila.
Avila encouraged HSU to continue celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month through the events hosted by Sangre and Student Life, such as “Fiesta en la Calle,” an annual student-led event that highlights Hispanic/Latino food and festivities.
Avila shared, “It’s an opportunity to learn more about our history and culture!”
Another member of the Hispanic Alumni Group is Paul Gomez ‘82. Gomez was heavily involved on campus as Student Congress President, Law and Politics Club President, Baptist Student union member, and Tau Alpha Phi member. Gomez also received the Zambus History Award, as well as the Youth Optimist Award.
Several staff members encouraged Gomez to become involved with the Hispanic Alumni Group. Dr. Joe Alcorta, recently retired Professor of Spanish, taught throughout Gomez’s time at Hardin-Simmons. Dr. Manuel Flores has been highly influential within the Kelley College of Business and has contributed the Dr. Manuel and Betty Flores School of Business Endowed Scholarship to give financial aid to current Hispanic students.
“Dr. Alcorta and Dr. Flores were role models for successful, educated Hispanics and nudged me toward success,” shared Gomez.
Additionally, Gomez reflected on his time at HSU and shared that he developed friendships at HSU that have lasted a lifetime and encourages current students to do the same.
Sylvia Gonzalez Villareal ’74 calls HSU her “family school.” Villareal’s father, David S. Gonzalez ‘52/’54, enrolled at HSU with the money he received from the G.I. Bill, becoming the first in his family to go to college. In 1954, Villareal’s uncle, Rev. Jose Martinez, graduated from HSU, and has served as a trustee for the university. Another uncle, Ret. Lt. Col. Fernando Martinez, graduated in 1964 and was commissioned 2nd Lt. at graduation. Villareal’s Uncle Fred also played football for HSU and is a proud member of the Team of the Century from Abilene High School. Many of Villareal’s cousins have attended or graduated from HSU, as well as her daughter, Ana, who attended HSU for several years and was a member of the World-Famous Cowboy Band.
Villareal has had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors for the Baptist Standard, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Board of Directors for the HSU Alumni Association, and currently on the Hispanic Initiative Council for Texas Baptists. On campus, she was involved with the beginning of the Mexican-American Club in 1972
“Our Hispanic Alumni Group has been awarding scholarships to graduating seniors with financial need for about 8 years,” Villareal said. “This year we will award four scholarships at Homecoming. We are very proud to be able to help students graduate with the donations from our members of the Hispanic Alumni Group.”
She looks forward to meeting the recipients of these scholarships at Homecoming this year as well as joining with other alumni on a trip to the Joe Alcorta Elementary School, experiencing the mariachi band at the Hispanic Dinner, and worshiping on Sunday morning in Logsdon Chapel.