Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), in partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), has awarded more than 100 students, ranging from incoming freshmen through graduate students, with complimentary roundtrip airfare as part of the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award program.
The ¡Lánzate! Program, which was recognized in 2015 by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, is geared toward Hispanic college students with economic need who attend school far away from home. Students from across the nation completed online entries and submitted essays conveying how receiving a travel award would help them achieve their educational goals.
In 2015, a student studying in wrote about the strain of finding herself more than 1,000 miles away from her family who lived in Austin, Texas. The student wrote "Studying in the Milwaukee area has made it difficult for me to see them; last Thanksgiving was my first holiday away from my family due to our inability to afford my travel expenses. My future college degree is not only mine, but a combination of hard work from my family and me. Receiving the ¡Lánzate! scholarship would greatly ease my family's financial strain to travel for my graduation and subsequently allow us to celebrate a great accomplishment together."
A panel of judges made up of college professors and educational advocates met to determine the award recipients. Recipients were awarded between one and four roundtrip tickets for travel for themselves or a family member. Southwest donated 400 one-way e-passes to encourage students to continue on their paths to higher education.
"Southwest Airlines has been proud to partner with HACU for 12 years as we work together to assist Hispanic youth throughout the country in making their dreams of higher education come true," said Christine Ortega, Southwest Airlines Senior Advisor, Community Affairs & Grassroots. "This travel can make it possible for a student to go home for the holidays. Sometimes that connection with family and home can make the difference between graduating and dropping out."
"The entries received this year demonstrate how important family visits are to a successful higher education experience for Hispanic college students," said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. "As an organization whose mission is to champion Hispanic success in higher education, HACU is honored to partner with Southwest Airlines' ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program to help college students stay connected with their families as part of their higher education journey."
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Founded in 1986, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) represents more than 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The association headquarters are located in San Antonio, Texas, with government relations offices in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California. This year, HACU is celebrating 30 years of championing Hispanic education. Information is available at www.hacu.net.
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