Belinda Knoblach took a three-decade-long break between high school and college. When deciding to return for further education she turned to South Texas College – and discovered a unique scholarship program.
As a Mission resident, Knoblach was eligible to receive scholarship funds at STC specifically for students from Mission. Since its inception in 2013, the Mission EDA Scholarship Fund has disbursed more than $700,000 to 400-plus STC students from Mission. The EDA scholarships are based on enrollment and a student can receive a maximum of $3,200 while attending STC.
For Knoblach, the scholarship provided a major boost in her return to school.
“It was such a tremendous blessing for my family,” Knoblach said in comments made available by STC’s scholarship office. “That first semester when I got the check in the mail, I was completely floored. I could get the books I needed.”
The age range of Mission EDA Scholarship recipients is one of the program’s greatest attributes, said Judy Martinez. Martinez serves as the coordinator of scholarships for STC.
“Many older students have some prior college hours,” Martinez said. “Getting scholarship funds such as the ones provided by this program really motivates them to come back to school.”
About half of the students receiving the Mission scholarships are between the ages of 26 and 40, Martinez said. The younger students can use the scholarship funds to accelerate to the time they graduate. Many of them earn college hours while in high school through dual enrollment programs, she said.
“It really lightens the load financially for students of all ages,” Martinez said. “The demand for scholarships is very high even though we believe STC is the most affordable option, but students still seek (scholarship) assistance.”
Martinez said the Mission EDA Scholarship program is unique. It’s the only one in the college’s many scholarship programs to tie into residency in a city. A permanent residence in Mission and being a citizen or legal resident, along with completing high school or its equivalence, are key qualifications for the scholarship program. The EDA scholarship is the creation of the City of Mission, the Mission Economic Development Corporation and the Mission Economic Development Authority.
“Education and talent are the biggest drivers for companies selecting sites to expand and create jobs,” said Daniel Silva, the chief executive officer of the Mission EDC. “The Mission EDA Scholarship Fund is another way we can develop talent to be competitive moving forward.”