Every year, the Webb County Heritage Foundation of Laredo conducts a county-wide essay competition among graduating high school seniors, selecting a winner to receive the President of the Republic of the Río Grande® Scholarship. The only criterion used for the winner is that she or he write an essay on some aspect of family history, traditions, or culture. For the first time in the scholarship’s history, the judging committee announced a tie in the competition.
“The Judging Committee was delighted to come to the conclusion that there were two winning entries,” said Margarita Araiza, Executive Director. “We are happy to announce that two deserving students will receive the scholarship this year.”
The scholarships will be presented as part of the Founders’ Day Celebration on Saturday, May 14 at 12 noon at the Laredo Center for the Arts in Laredo.
This year’s winners are Mr. Luis Fernando Mota of Lyndon Baines Johnson High School, and Ms. Cheyenne A. Castro of John B. Alexander High School.
Mr. Mota’s essay is a moving tribute to his grandfather and the vivid memories of conversations exchanged centered around their shared experiences while cultivating oranges on the family farm. Mr. Mota displayed a talent for brilliant descriptive writing not commonly found in such a young writer.
Mr. Mota is the son of Luis F. and Sandra Mota, and has listed the University of Texas at Austin as his first choice for college. He is the 2016 LBJ High School Salutatorian.
Ms. Castro’s essay also centers around her grandparents – in this case, a grandfather who spent his early years in the coal mining town of Dolores, Texas, and a grandmother who originally came from Dolores, Mexico. Describing their labor as miners, migrant workers, and even as street musicians, Ms. Castro paints a heartfelt picture of lives spent in relentless struggle to forge a better future for their children. Those children, in turn, later worked in unison to get a historical marker designation by the Texas Historical Commission for their grandparents’ coal mining community. That marker is called “Coal Mining in Las Minas – Santo Tomas Coal Field.” Ms. Castro’s essay conveys a beautiful and sincere reverence for the lives of her ancestors.
Ms. Castro is the daughter of Jaime Javier and Christina Rangel-Castro. She has listed Texas A&M University as her first choice for college.
Ms. Cheyenne A. Castro
of John B. Alexander High School
Mr. Luis Fernando Mota
of Lyndon Baines Johnson High