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Wolslager Foundation dedicated to student success at NMSU and DACC

The generosity of the Wolslager Foundation, which has been supporting non-traditional students through scholarships at New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Community College since 2002, was celebrated by the NMSU Foundation at a Stewardship Story Feb. 1.



Stephen Wolsalger, president of the Wolslager Foundation, speaks about the foundation's successful partnership with New Mexico State University during a Stewardship Story event Feb. 1. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The Wolslager Foundation has given more than $2 million to support NMSU and DACC students. The foundation awards 70 scholarships to students at both campuses each year. The scholarships are available to full-time students at DACC and NMSU students who transferred from DACC to complete their undergraduate work.

Funding from the foundation also has funded STEM initiatives, including the Science Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy or SEMAA, a partnership between the NMSU colleges of Education and Engineering. NMSU has been able to engage public school students in southern New Mexico in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology. The foundation also has made a difference in the lives of students in the NMSU College of Engineering summer PREP program. The Pre Freshman Engineering Program is an academically intensive six-week summer program for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders that includes hands-on laboratory experiments and projects such as building robots and rockets.

"This is one of those stories that deserves recognition," said NMSU Interim President Manuel Pacheco. "It is an honor and a pleasure to celebrate this foundation and the work that they do. These scholarships make a difference in whether a student can finish their education."

Linda Aguirre, an NMSU student in special education and a recipient of the Wolslager Foundation Scholarship, said the scholarship made it possible for her to take care of her five children and keep going to school during difficult times.

"I am extremely honored to be a recipient of this scholarship. It has made such a positive impact in my life," Aguirre said.

Another scholarship recipient, Valarie Valencia, a senior majoring in business management, said the scholarship made it possible for her to get a bachelor's degree. Valencia said she had to work full-time while earning her associate's degree at DACC and it took her five years. The Wolslager Scholarship made it possible for her to go to school full-time while pursing her bachelor's degree.

"Going to school full-time makes such a difference," Valencia said. "I wouldn't have been able to get a bachelor's degree without this scholarship."

The Wolslager Foundation was established to improve the quality of life for individuals in the area where J.W. and the late Josephine S. Wolslager owned and operated their Coca-Cola bottling franchise. Since 1996, the Wolslager Foundation has distributed more than $38 million to more than 190 nonprofit organizations in southeastern Arizona, south-central New Mexico and West Texas.

Stephen Wolslager, the grandson of J.W. and Josephine and president of the foundation, said his grandfather reads every letter from scholarship recipients.

"It makes him feel good about helping these students with their future. He says it is the most rewarding thing he has been involved in in his life," Wolslager said. "It is important for people in the community to understand the obstacles that these students overcome to achieve their dreams."

In addition to Stephen, board members and officers of the foundation include: J.W. Wolslager Jr., founder; Shirley Rogers, treasurer and director; Trey Wolslager, director; and James A. Carter, director.

Dennis Prescott, NMSU vice president for university advancement and president of the NMSU Foundation, said, "It is important to identify individuals who are truly making a difference at NMSU through their gifts and we must honor them for their support."

This event is part of a series of Stewardship Stories, to highlight the amazing programs that have been established at the university thanks to the generosity of its donors.