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Couple gifts $1 million to help students of color succeed at Wichita State University

Gene and Yolanda Camarena donated $1 million to Wichita State University to give students of...
Gene and Yolanda Camarena donated $1 million to Wichita State University to give students of color opportunities they otherwise might not have.(Wichita State University)
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 7:19 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A couple known for helping underserved youth in Kansas stepped up in a big way with a significant gift to Wichita State University.

In a news release Monday, the university said the $1-million gift from Gene and Yolanda Camarena will give students of color opportunities they otherwise might not have. Wichita State said about $520,000 will provide high-impact scholarships to 20 Hispanic and Black students each year for the next four years.

“Wichita State will match that investment in full as part of its mission to provide affordable and accessible educational opportunities to underserved students,” the university said.

The Camarenas chose the name “Shocker Adelante Scholars” to describe scholarship recipients from their gift. Adelante means “to move forward” or “to get ahead” in Spanish.

Wichita State said the couple’s gift will also provide mentoring and tutoring services to help scholarship recipients, support scholarship recipients who have an entrepreneurial interest by underwriting their participation in the university’s new Microenterprises Program, create a Visiting professor program “to augment the university’s efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty, and to hire a full-time diversity recruiter in the university’s admissions department “to boost enrollment of students of color.”

Wichita State said the Camarenas draw from their own experiences as college students from diverse backgrounds in recognizing the financial and cultural barriers students of color can face with continuing their educations.

“We also understand the lifelong positive impact a college education can have on each student as well as their extended families,” said Yolanda Camarena, a Wichita State graduate. “Our goal is to provide students of color a level pathway to a college degree and the ability to participate equally in all the opportunities our country has to offer.”

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