The Scholarship Selection Process
Viola's Hugh Heart Foundation (the Foundation) works with various schools in the San Antonio area, including elementary, middle school, high school and nonprofit colleges or universities, to identify students in need. The goal of the Foundation is to help the identified school with the creation and funding of a scholarship for a term of three to four years to aid the student in need with tuition and other qualified school associated expenses. The Foundation does not distribute funds directly to individuals nor does it identify the student in need. Funds distributed from the Foundation may only be used for purposes that would cause the payment to be considered a qualified scholarship under Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code (tuition, enrollment fees, books, supplies and equipment that are required for the course by the educational institution). QUALIFICATION PROCESS
Any nonprofit school that has a candidate in need, considering the qualifications below, may apply to the Foundation for aid in creating a scholarship for the candidate to help pay for tuition and associated qualified school expenses. The Foundation's preference is to work with the parochial schools in the San Antonio area, but this is not a mandatory requirement. The terms of any scholarship created by the school with funds being contributed by the Foundation must have the following requirements:
- The student must maintain a "B" GPA average (80 average).
- The student must be in need of tuition assistance.
- The scholarship will not exceed a length of four years of assistance be used for the payment of tuition and associated school expenses.
- The board of the foundation will assess the character of the proposed candidate based on interviews with the student, his or her parents or guardian, teachers, etc.
- The student must be available and willing to participate in any promotional campaigns or advertisements held by the foundation regarding his or her scholarship.
Two Scholarship Awards And More To Come
In the last two years, the Foundation has awarded two full-time scholarships to two teenage girls enabling each to attend a high schools that offer a high quality of education. Abigail Issarraras was the first scholarship recipient. She is enrolled in Incarnate Word High School. Daniela Portillo is the second scholarship recipient, and she is enrolled in Providence High School. Following are the stories on the two recipients and the special high schools that are preparing them for higher education.
Abigail Issarraras is a moving picture of energy, a student volunteer on the run. A junior at Incarnate Word High School, she masterfully juggles advanced placement classes, theater rehearsals, Latin Club meetings and multiple service responsibilities, on and off campus.
"Abigail is an outstanding student, a good leader on campus who can do a multitude of things," says April Garza, junior-senior counselor at Incarnate Word. "She's going full force here, strives for more and always excels. She's an absolutely good time manager."
When not studying, Abigail might be serving as Latin Club treasurer. Or giving tours and promoting the school as an Ambassador. She spends her summers as a camp volunteer for children and adults with special needs.
Since receiving a scholarship from Viola's Huge Heart Foundation, Abigail has devoted herself to serving others. Viola Barrios, the late restaurateur for whom the scholarship award is named, has become Abigail's role model.
"I'm sorry I never got to meet her," Abigail says. "But I have heard she was dedicated to helping people and was so compassionate -- two qualities I want to have. Everything I'm involved with at school and at work -- I want to make her proud."
To her surprise, Abigail received the scholarship while graduating from Little Flower Middle School. She wants to study occupational therapy.
"I volunteer whenever I can, whenever the school needs volunteers," she says. "I am so blessed to have received this scholarship. It makes me want to reach out any way I can."
The college preparatory experience at Incarnate Word High School begins on Day One. Every student at the historic, all-girls Catholic school embarks on a modular schedule that mimics a college schedule -- with blocks of free time sandwiched between rigorous classes that often meet only three times a week.
Every faculty member provides thoughtful, challenging work—much like a professor at an institution of higher learning. Students learn to tackle an advanced curriculum. They explore electives, like photography and art. They volunteer at school and in the community. They learn to manage their time.
"I'm starting my sixth year," says April Garza, junior-senior counselor at Incarnate Word, "and we've been sending 100 percent of our students to college the entire time I've been here."
Since awarding diplomas to its first high school graduates in 1903, Incarnate Word has become a premier college preparatory institution for young women. Its mission is to prepare students for academic excellence, Christian service and social justice.
Garza attributes much of the school's success to faculty and scheduling. "We simulate the college experience in high school," she says. "Classes are lecture based. Tests are given in a testing center. Students must look and see what day they must take their exam."
The college-like atmosphere can be intimidating, if not overwhelming, Garza says, especially to freshmen. But new students receive help from advisers. Upperclassmen provide mentoring. Teachers are available for extra help.
The system works beautifully. Year after year, students adjust, excel and matriculate to college.
Daniela Portillo nurtures a dream as big and beautiful as her heart. It is a dream that motivates her to study hard and serve others in the community. Though she is only 15- years-old and the daughter of a single mother, Daniela aspires to a career in medicine.
"I want to work with X-ray machines," says Daniela, a sophomore at Providence High School. "I want to be on the operational side of medicine."
To get a glimpse of her future, Daniela has begun volunteering at the Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. She also serves as a Providence Ambassador. Her duties range from providing school tours to representing the school at events.
Daniela's passion for service and strong academic standing resulted in an unexpected gift. During the summer, she became the second recipient of a scholarship from the Viola Huge Heart Foundation. The award will cover all tuition until she graduates. It is named after the late Viola Barrios, founder of Los Barrios and La Hacienda de los Barrios restaurants.
"I feel very fortunate to have received this scholarship," Daniela says. "It has given me a peace of mind. My mother is a single mom who has been working very hard to keep me in private school."
Daniela attended middle school in Northside ISD. She came to Providence as a freshman because her mother wanted her to receive a Catholic education. "To see the difference between public and private school makes me value everything I've been given," Daniela says. "I will be forever thankful."
The spirit of Providence Catholic School has inspired students for 60 years. A rigorous academic curriculum prepares the all-female student body for college. A rich faith environment equips everyone -- from freshmen to seniors -- for service.
Teachers offer Saturday classes. Counselors provide one-on-one college advising and create portfolios for each student. The school offers 13 Advanced Placement courses, five dual credit classes, innovative electives and an internship class for seniors.
The results impress. Every graduating senior last spring was accepted into college. The Class of 2011 earned more than $8 million in scholarships.
"This is a dream of every counselor," says Providence academic counselor Evelyn Griess.
Griess once worked in a large public school and could not give every student individual attention. But she is able to meet with each of 56 Providence seniors and their families.
"I have time to analyze students' academic ability, drive, desire, motivation and field of study," Griess says. "But I am not a lone ranger. We have amazing, dedicated teachers. They are the key to making this all work. I take the delicious residuals and translate them into college scholarships and acceptances."
Some students arrive as freshmen, unsure about college or their ability to succeed. But before long, they receive encouragement from older students and become college motivated.
"You are in a can-do environment and it brushes off on everyone," Griess says. "It's an inbuilt support system. They talk to each other, motivate each other. It's like a wildfire and it catches on."