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Chavez Scholarship Recipients Honored by UCM Share Thoughts on Value of Higher Education

By Jeff Murphy, January 4, 2022

Chavez Award Recipients 2021Displaying the “snouts out” sign to show their University of Central Missouri spirit, previous recipients of Cesar E. Chavez Scholarships to UCM, from left, Antonio DeLeon, Alex Green, Jimena Yepez, 2021-2022 recipients; Symaria Fisher, 2018-2019; Alexander, Guzman, 2020-2021: and Steven Archuleta, Jr., 2018-2019, gather outside the Achauer House.

WARRENSBURG, MO – As a way to celebrate the legacy of a great civil rights leader and the relationship between the University of Central Missouri and members of the Hispanic and Latino communities in the Kansas City metropolitan area, UCM honored 2021 and 2020 student recipients of Cesar E. Chavez Scholarships during the fall 2021 semester. Kansas City area students who want to further their education through this scholarship are being encouraged to apply for 2022 awards by Feb. 1.


The scholarship has been awarded to more than 40 individuals since its inception, and is currently valued at $12,500, and spread over eight semesters. It was established as a way to provide financial support for a graduating high school senior of a Kansas City metropolitan high school who planned to attend UCM. Students considered for the award must have demonstrated Chavez’s values of courage, determination, individual responsibility, respect and service to others.


The award was initially announced on Hispanic Heritage Day April 22, 2004 by Missouri Governor Bob Holden, who recognized UCM with a proclamation for establishing this scholarship. The first award of its kind in Missouri, the scholarship was then presented on April 24, 2004 during the annual Cesar Chavez Festival at the Guadalupe Center in Kansas City. To date, more than $400,000 in scholarships have been awarded to help students who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college.


Four individuals who received scholarships for 2021, Antonio Deleon, Kansas City; Alex Scott Green, Lee’s Summit; and Jimena Yepez, Kansas City; and one 2020 scholarship recipient, Alexander Guzman, Kansas City, were recognized during UCM’s 2021 Family Weekend. Ashley Carolina Rodriguez, Raytown also was recognized as a 2021 award recipient but was not able to attend, as well as 2020 recipient Kevin Albor, Kansas City.


In application for the scholarships, these students provided information about their high school and community service activities, and also referenced a quote from Chavez, “The end of all education should surely be service to others” and how that statement applies to their lives.


Antonio Deleon is a graduate of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, and was active in high school and community organizations. This included serving as a cadet first sergeant for Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), participant in the annual Shark Tank competition, and member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for two consecutive semesters. He was a volunteer for Thelma’s Kitchen; successfully completed all character and job training courses for Hire KC; and was an Operation Breakthrough food pantry volunteer.


In his essay, he noted that his plans include pursuing a degree in Crisis and Disaster management at UCM, and why he wants to serve in this type of position.

“I knew right away this degree was what I wanted to do. Little did I know that in the near future, our world would be impacted by a deadly pandemic that would make this degree that much more crucial,” Deleon stated. “Now more than ever, we need to focus on Crisis and Disaster Management as our world changes due to global warming, natural disasters and deadly pathogens. My goal is to work as an Emergency Management Specialist for FEMA addressing the future challenges that we all face.”


Alex Green attended Lee’s Summit West High School, where he graduated in May 2021.  While attending high school, he participated as a cadet in the local Police Explorers Club, tutored younger children in his neighborhood who were struggling in learning at home, worked part-time as a lifeguard at the local aquatic center, and provided swim lessons to children. While being active in his church youth group, he also volunteered at an animal shelter and local library, and volunteered reading to individuals at a local nursing home.  He was a varsity men’s team diver for three years in high school, one of the top 25 divers in the state.


Through his education at UCM, Green hopes to become a middle school social studies teacher.

“So much of a child’s character development happens at school; from the other students, peer pressure, trying to fit in and making poor choices to going along with the crowd, but a teacher also has a major role in character development,” he said in his essay. “This does not negate the fact that parents have an important role in their child’s character development, but when parents do not or cannot appreciate the weight of this responsibility that is when it is crucial that a teacher can positively affect a child’s character development. I want to be that teacher for my future students.”


Ashley Rodriguez graduated from Raytown South High School. Her service included tutoring children in a first grade class at a local elementary school in areas such as reading and writing. She also worked as a part-time receptionist at the law office of Jessica Piedra. 

In her essay, Rodriguez mentioned her desire to work in a law enforcement related field. Taking to heart the words of Chavez, she views getting an education as the “most important goal that I have thus far.” She realizes she has a rare opportunity that may not otherwise be possible.

“The plan has always been to help others. Being first generation is harder than I expected but I want to help others as much as I can,” she wrote. “Whether it be in the medical field like I had dreamed of at an early age, or becoming an attorney like I wanted to in middle school, or now wanting to help solve crimes and help keep the U.S. a safe place for those who reside here, I am determined to learn how to help others and be someone they can count on to help solve the injustices that occur.”


Jimena Yepez attended Guadalupe Centers/Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City.  In addition to being a percussion player in her high school band and serving on the basketball team, Yepez has worked as a home child care provider and served as a volunteer for Warriors for Wyandotte, which provided opportunities to organize and participate in events, deliver food for those in need and  participate in youth ministry activities.


In her essay she referenced another quote from Chavez, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.” She also added, “We must help others achieve their goals apart from ourselves.”


“Now that I understand his quote more and more, I plan to live by it in everyday life. Helping those around me even if it’s just by making sure my little brother understands that math problem he’s always getting stuck on…Knowledge makes the world. Knowledge is power,” she stated.


Alexander Guzman also attended Guadalupe Centers/Alta Vista Charter High School. His service and extracurricular activities have included volunteering to assist Guadalupe Centers Inc. with fundraising, assisting with set-up for Cinco de Mayo, and serving on soccer and basketball teams.


Referencing Chavez’s comment on service, he said “This quote has made me realize that God wanted me to understand the importance of giving back to my community.”


“Ultimately, if I can’t find a way to physically be there to support my community, I will always find a way to be involved.”


He said his goal is to graduate from the University of Central Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in business and create his own real estate business. “My hope is to help students continue to pursue and prove to students that this idea of college is possible.”


A resident of Kansas City, Kevin Albor attended Lincoln Preparatory Academy. In his essay related to Chavez’s quote about the importance of education, Albor said the “statement is important because I believe that education can lead to living better lives, and it allows people to stop being ignorant to their surroundings.”


“Education can easily change the way a person’s life develops,” he said. “With a high enough education, people are eligible to gain higher paying jobs that can make their lives easier…Education does not have to be in a classroom. People can also educate themselves on the current issues that occur around them. The world is a big place and I think it is important for everyone to know what is happening in it.”


Albor hopes to graduate from college with a degree that will prepare him for a career in electrical engineering, but he said having a degree is not where learning stops. He noted that Chavez never stopped learning, which helped him in his role to improve workers’ rights.


Individuals who want to know more about the Chavez Scholarship are encouraged to contact Monica Huffman, executive assistant to the president at UCM, at 660-543-4106 or


Apply for the Chavez Scholarship


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