Hispanic Alumni of SMU awarded $45,000 in scholarships to nine students at the seventh annual awards reception September 9. The evening also recognized Claudia Sandoval ’12 ’13, the 2021 Hispanic Alumni of SMU World Changer Award recipient.
Claudia paid tribute to SMU alumni trailblazers who inspired her as a student. They include Dallas College Trustee Monica Lira Bravo ’03, prominent immigration attorney Liz Cedillo ’99 and state Rep. Rafael Anchía ’90, for whom she interned as an undergraduate.
“I know that it is thanks to them and others like them who have paved paths for us here at SMU and beyond in our communities that I can stand here today,” said Claudia.
Today, Claudia is blazing her own trails to improve equity in our communities as a Central Region Fellow with the National Development Council. The organization acts as a partner, teacher, advisor, investor, developer and lender that brings together technical know-how and capital for community and economic investment. She focuses in the areas of community development, economic development and affordable housing.
Claudia’s public service career began on the Hilltop during a time when underrepresented populations were just beginning to have an official voice in the SMU Student Senate. As a sophomore, she was elected to the Hispanic American senate seat. The following year, she ran for the Lyle School of Engineering senate seat and won. That year the overall Hispanic representation in the senate grew, and representation for diverse populations continued.
I hope that students on campus today feel more empowered because of changes that students at our time fought for and that the legacy of empowerment continues for the next generations of SMU world changers
— Claudia Sandoval ’12 ’13
While at SMU, Claudia earned a bachelor’s degree in management science and a Master of Science in systems engineering before spending six years in technology and management consulting. She recently received a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.
“My education was the only thing that could never be taken from me – so I took that seriously,” she said, crediting the positive influence of her parents – immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador – on her commitment to education.
Meet the 2021 scholarship recipients
Paving the way to success
A common theme emerged during the evening’s remarks: the power of community and its ability to empower the next generation of Mustangs.
Rumaldo Robles ’17, Hispanic Alumni of SMU Board chair, presided over the much-anticipated evening. Because last year’s event was postponed due to the pandemic, both 2020 and 2021 recipients were celebrated. These Hispanic Alumni of SMU Scholarship Award recipients each received a $5,000 award.
- Robert Mendoza ’20
- Giancarlo Rinaldini ’21
- David Rodriguez ’21
- Stephanie Rodriguez ’21
- Teresa Acosta ’22
- Lucy Carreño-Roca ’22
- Jose Martinez ’21
- Antonio Orta Williamson ’22
- Valeria Reynosa ’22
Teresa Acosta ’22 made SMU history as the inaugural First-Generation Senator elected to the 107th SMU Student Senate. Teresa, a junior majoring in biology and human rights with minors in Spanish and history in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, holds a multitude of additional leadership roles in organizations across campus. Teresa serves as co-director of marketing and outreach for SMU Alternative Breaks, co-events director for the SMU Human Rights Council, Daniel House Director of House Advocacy for Upper Division Housing and president of the League of United Latin American Citizens at SMU. She is also vice president of the SMU Global Medical Brigades and of the Unity Coalition at SMU; rush chair for the Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity; co-socials chair for the Connect Program; student wellness champion; and secretary of the Japanese Cultural Club.
“My community believes that I have the capability to succeed, to make a difference, to rise above adversity and help pave the way for other Hispanic leaders and scholars to pursue their wildest dreams.”
Scholarship recipient Lucy Carreño-Roco ’22, a graduate student in the Cox School of Business, is the first generation of her family to go to college, be born in the United States and be fluent in both English and Spanish. She explained that the scholarship signified more than money to cover a portion of the cost of her MBA.
Lucy is a first-year full-time M.B.A. candidate with a concentration in finance and marketing. She is vice president of first-year FTMBA in the Operations and Analytics Club and is a member of the Latino Business Club and the Women in Business and Finance Club. Before attending the SMU Cox School of Business, she worked for four and a half years at Bank of America as a global treasury implementation advisor and operations manager where she had the opportunity to grow as a leader, cultivate teams and discover her passion for improving the financial lives of her clients. She graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and psychology in 2016.
“My dream is to honor God. My goal is to make movies that remind us we are part of something bigger than ourselves. My fight is to become a good friend, a trusted neighbor and help to set the path that leads future generations to the truth.” Jose Martinez is a senior majoring in film and media arts with a minor in graphic design in Meadows School of the Arts.
Valeria Reynosa ’22 is a senior from El Paso, Texas, majoring in history and political science with a minor in law and legal reasoning. She is currently an undergraduate research assistant for The Voices of SMU oral history project where she strives to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups in the SMU community while documenting their individual experiences and interests. In addition to working on this project, Valeria serves as a history ambassador and a history intern with the Bywaters Special Collections. She is also an SMU Pre-Law Scholar, the secretary of the SMU Historical Society, a student facilitator for a first-year human development course and a court-appointed special advocate for Dallas CASA. In her free time, Valeria enjoys hiking, running and listening to podcasts.
Antonio Orta Williamson ’22 is a junior studying civil engineering at SMU. He moved to Dallas from Mexico when he was 17, and he finished his senior year of high school in Texas. After his associate’s degree, he started working to save money to attend SMU. After a couple of years, he was able to enroll and is now working toward his undergraduate degree. In his free time, he loves to hang out with his family and take his two dogs, Lily and Luca, on long walks. He also plays soccer with his friends in indoor and outdoor leagues. Once he graduates, he wants to pursue a career in land development, where he can help Dallas with its growing market.