Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars Program Receives Generous Scholarships from Unitus Credit Union
By Maddie Little
Western Oregon University and Unitus Credit Union came together in September for a special event.
The event, hosted on the WOU campus, recognized and awarded scholarships to a cohort of eight Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars. At the event, there were representatives from WOU including the President, Jesse Peters; the Dean of the College of Education, Mark Girod; the Bilingual and Diverse Teacher Scholars Coordinator, Maria Dantas-Whitney; and other colleges from the College of Education. There were also multiple representatives from Unitus, including the President and CEO, Steve Stapp, and Chief Human Resource Officer Gayle Evans, who serves on the WOU Board of Trustees.
Keynote speaker Teresa Alonso Leon, currently an Oregon Congresswoman, is a Latina WOU alumna. Leon gave a speech about her own background growing up in Mexico and immigrating to the United States. She talked about how many teachers throughout her schooling positively influenced and inspired her.
“All of the eight cohort students were very inspired by her speech because they related to many of her experiences,” Maria Dantas-Whitney said. “The students could really see themselves in Teresa, and wanted to follow in her journey by becoming an accomplished educator.”
The cohort scholars spoke at the event as well. Each scholar shared a little bit about themselves and what inspired them to become teachers.
Unitus also had a turn at the microphone to express what an honor it is for them to be able to support the Bilingual and Diverse Scholars Program. Representatives from Unitus, a Hispanic-serving organization, said they felt especially honored to award these scholarships because WOU is an emerging Hispanic-serving institution. They described the program as an excellent cause for them to sponsor and be involved in because it greatly reflects their mission as a credit union.