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Fabian and Virginia Samaniego Memorial Scholarship Endowment established

A scholarship endowment has been established at New Mexico State University in memory of Fabian and Virginia Samaniego, lifelong residents of the Mesilla Valley.

A scholarship endowment has been established at New Mexico State University in honor of Fabian and Virginia

The Fabian and Virginia Samaniego Memorial Scholarship Endowment is designed to provide one to two full-time tuition, room and board scholarships per year for Hispanic students majoring in Spanish at New Mexico State.

Fabian S. Samaniego was born Feb. 6, 1906, in Rincon, N.M., and Virginia Samaniego was born April 9, 1908, in Dona Ana, N.M. They were married in Las Cruces Aug. 5, 1935, and began raising a family of seven children.

Mr. Samaniego spent his time as a volunteer fireman, a member of the Knights of Columbus, as a cook at the Fred Harvey restaurant in Las Cruces and then as a self-employed plumber when cooking would no longer support his family.

The Samaniegos were both active members of Our Lady of Health Catholic Church and volunteered their time at the Friday night enchilada dinners and bake sales.

The Samaniego children established the endowment after the passing of their parents.

Fabian Samaniego, one of the seven children, said his parents always stressed the value of education. With the help of a $500 New Mexico State engineering scholarship, Samaniego was able to enroll at the university, where he eventually became a Spanish major, graduating in 1964 and continuing on to earn a master's degree in Spanish at the University of Iowa.

Now retired from a career teaching Spanish -- including 24 years at the University of California at Davis, where he also served as supervisor of graduate assistants and coordinator of the first-year language courses -- Samaniego writes Spanish language textbooks for native and non-native speakers.

"I always wanted to pay back my parents for their encouragement and New Mexico State for that first scholarship," Samaniego said.

Samaniego said the goal of the endowment is to help Hispanic students, similar to the way in which he was helped when he began his academic career.

"It's wonderful that our students will have this kind of support from an alumnus," said Beth Pollack, head of the university's languages and linguistics department. She said she expects the first scholarship to be awarded in the fall.

The scholarships will be funded by earnings from the endowment, which currently is valued at $150,000. The family plans to bring the amount to $250,000 within the next five years.

Contributions to the Fabian and Virginia Samaniego Memorial Scholarship Endowment may be sent to the New Mexico State University Foundation, P.O. Box 3590, Las Cruces, NM 88003. For more information, contact Ann Palormo at (505) 646-5731.