Carlos and Clara Quintanilla created a scholarship in 2013 for students of Mexican heritage who wish to pursue a degree in the Cockrell School of Engineering.
“We are honored to use our family endowment to help financially-needy students access higher education to improve their lives and make a difference in their local communities,” Carlos Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla expressed that the cost of education from a prestigious university like the University of Texas at Austin is out of reach for many students of Mexican heritage. He said getting an education, especially with the status of today’s global economy, is more important than ever.
“My father, my three sons and I are all engineers,” Quintanilla said. “We share a strong belief that this rigorous profession provides all the tools one needs to succeed in life.”
Quintanilla and his wife were inspired to establish this scholarship to honor his father’s graduation from the chemical engineering department in 1949, as well as the overall great education his family has received from the University.
“We have the capacity to help them and we wish to do so in gratitude for the opportunities we have received from both Mexico and The University of Texas at Austin,” Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla attended Cornell University, where he met Jerry Wilcox, who was working for the International Office for Cornell at the time. In 1998 Wilcox became the director for the International Office at the University of Texas, around the time Quintanilla’s sons were attending the University, and that is how the two reconnected.
“In turn, he introduced us to some of his colleagues at the UT International Office, and we were very impressed by the excellent work they were doing,” Quintanilla said. “Without a doubt, seeing this greatly motivated our decision to establishing this endowment.”
Darcy McGillicuddy, Director of External Relations for the International Office, works with donors like the Quintanilla’s to ensure that the International Office can continue to offer educational opportunities for students all over the world.
“In the International Office we are committed to providing higher education opportunities for exemplary students from diverse backgrounds,” McGillicuddy said. “This would not be possible without the vision and philanthropy of people like Carlos and Clara Quintanilla.”
McGillicuddy expressed that this couple is a model and inspiration for those involved in international education in the way they have generously lived their lives.
“As global citizens, they have worked hard to provide a better life for their family, and have extended that generosity to their community and far beyond,” McGillicuddy said.
Through his own life, Quintanilla is very proud of the industrial park development his company has built over an 18-year period in Laredo, Texas. His company has built more than 350 warehouses, generated many jobs, increased tax revenue for the city and positioned the area for ongoing growth. He hopes that after establishing this scholarship, students will find opportunities like his.
“I am excited to see our endowment recipients carry on this tradition of community development,” Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla also hopes that some of the students who finish their education in the United States will take what they learned back to the people of Mexico.
“We would be very happy if scholarship recipients consider returning to Mexico to contribute to this growth and give back once they are in position to help their communities,” Quintanilla said.
Overall Quintanilla expressed that finding ways to collaborate across geographic and economic boundaries are steps to making progress to resolve both countries’ shared economic challenges.
“Helping these incredibly talented students access a high-quality engineering education at UT will have a ripple effect, helping not only endowment recipients, their families and our border communities, but also enhancing U.S.- Mexico relations,” Quintanilla said.
By Alyssa Brant and Angie Pastorek
Photo by Mike Andrick