In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Tarrant County College invites community members to its 10th annual Abrazando al Exito, an evening honoring, recognizing, celebrating and inspiring Latino/Latina students working hard to accomplish their higher education goals at TCC. Themed “Past, Present and Future,” this historic event will be held from 5:30 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10at TCC Trinity River in the Action Suites (Fourth Floor).
“Abrazando al Exito, which translates to ‘embracing success,’ started with a small committee at TCC Northeast,” said Pete Portillo, event committee member and coordinator of admissions & registrar services for TCC Trinity River. “Dr. Magdalena de la Teja, who was the vice president of student development services for TCC Northeast at the time, asked what can we do as a district to engage and recognize our students during Hispanic Heritage Month. At the time, each campus had their own celebrations, but the District as whole didn’t have anything. That was the beginning of Abrazando al Exito.”
Today, each campus still hosts events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 16-Oct. 15. “At the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, Abrazando al Exito is the big culminating event that brings all the campuses together and it’s typically a banquet that celebrates the successes of our students.”
The banquet has expanded to include a scholarship portion of the evening. Those students interested in applying for the scholarship are required to make a two-minute video on a given topic. Portillo added, “Based on this year’s theme, we are asking students ‘How has the past influenced your present, and what does that mean for your future in education?’ Winners receive a three-credit hour tuition scholarship for the upcoming spring semester.”
Three years ago, the committee collaborated with the TCC Foundation to raise enough money to institutionalize a scholarship through the employee giving campaign. “We were successful in doing that and this will be our fourth year giving away a full tuition scholarship to one student,” Portillo explained. The Dr. Magdalena de la Teja Abrazando al Exito Scholarship is open to all TCC students.
Abrazando al Exito will feature food, mariachi, ballet folklorico and an inspiring message about educational pursuits from keynote speaker Raul Magdaleno, internationally known community servant leader. Magdaleno was the guest speaker at the very first Abrazando al Exito in 2010. Prior to becoming a professional consultant, he established the department of Diversity and Community Engagement for Southern Methodist University (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts. Also, he was instrumental in founding Texas’ first Hispanic Youth Institute at SMU.
Portillo has big hopes for this celebration of academic excellence. “I would like to see this event, in ten years from now, so big that we can’t house it at one of our campuses. We’d have to go out and rent out the convention center. That’s what I would like to see.”