By VICTORIA BRITO MORALES, Special to the Star
HARLINGEN — As Veterans Day approaches, one UTRGV student can celebrate being the recipient of the Veteran of Foreign Wars’ Sports Clips Help A Hero scholarship.
William Pabon III, of Harlingen, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served from 2007 to 2015 and currently is studying criminal justice and environmental science at UTRGV.
This is the third time he has applied for and received this scholarship.
In partnership with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Sports Clips Help A Hero scholarship awards a student veteran up to $5,000 per semester, based on need.
The scholarship is funded through annual donations during the Help A Hero campaign at Sports Clips locations around the country. This year, the business is collecting donations in-store through Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Pabon first came across Help A Hero while doing independent research looking for local scholarships from Valley businesses.
“There was a sign at the business, asking for donations to military causes,” he said. “I wasn’t sure who could apply, so I reached out to a friend who had received the scholarship to get more details about how it works.”
Pabon received $1,800 for fall 2019, which goes a long way toward helping offset his education expenses.
“Everyone has financial strain. Whether it be bills or debt from prior service, many veterans enter school with previous debt,” he said.
“Military benefits only give you a certain amount of funds, which don’t always cover the full amount needed. Sometimes, you are left short.”
Easing the financial burden helps him focus more on school, instead of worrying so much about finances, he said.
“I am very grateful, and my grades speak for the impact,” he said. “I can dedicate more time and focus more on my studies versus having to look for a second job to supplement. It helps a lot to be able to make graduation the focus.”
Pabon is an actively involved veteran on campus, both as a work study for the Military and Veterans Success Center and as president of the Student Veterans of America. He is a third-generation veteran and has several relatives currently serving.
“Being a veteran is something that we, as veterans, take pride in,” he said. “It is not something we look to be celebrated for. It makes you proud to be part of a country that has so many people willing to volunteer to serve.”
ABOUT HELP A HERO
Since 2013, Sport Clips has been the primary supporter of the VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship program, which provides scholarships for service members and veterans for use at post-secondary schools and trade schools. To date, the group has awarded more than 1,400 scholarships totaling $6.5 million.
For more information or to apply to the VFW’s Sports Clips Help A Hero Scholarship, visit www.vfw.org/scholarship/ or visit any Sports Clips locations. Applications for the spring semester will be accepted Aug. 1 through Nov. 15.