Since 2005, Southwest has championed Hispanic success in higher education by donating over 4,000 tickets to students across the country. This year alone, we awarded 187 recipients from 120 different schools eight tickets each. Recipients can use these tickets to travel to and from school.
According to Rigoberto Perez Hernandez, a former ¡Lánzate! / Take Off! Travel Award recipient and undergraduate student at Cornell University, “The ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! Higher Education Travel Award Program alleviated much of my financial concerns. The award enabled my family to see me graduate and cross the stage at Cornell University. I am the first in my family to graduate from a university and pursue a professional degree.”
Through this national education initiative, HACU and Southwest Airlines have left indelible marks on students, their communities, and their families over the past 15 years. ¡Lánzate! / Take Off! Travel Award Program has turned their “what ifs” into “what is.”
“I never fail to admit that without the assistance of Southwest, my attempt to pursue an undergraduate degree would have been a nearly impossible feat,” shared ¡Lánzate! / Take Off! Travel Award alumna and student at New York University (NYU), Jessica Arzola. “I have been, and always will be, incredibly grateful to Southwest Airlines.”
Together, HACU and Southwest Airlines have given Hispanic students wings and allowed their dreams to take flight!
The ¡Lánzate! / Take Off! Travel Award Program is just one of the many ways Southwest Airlines gives back to the Hispanic community throughout the year. Stay tuned to learn more as we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
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Tell your friends and family it's their last chance to apply for the 12th annual “¡Lánzate! / Take Off!” Travel Award program. At Southwest Airlines, we are passionate about connecting People to what’s important in their lives. Through the “¡Lánzate! / Take Off!” Travel Award program, we are proud to help Latino students stay connected to their families. That connection to family is often the difference between staying in school and dropping out.
Online applications will be accepted through May 13, 2016, at hacu.net. The program is geared toward Latino college students with economic need who pursue higher education at least 200 miles away from home. All applicants must complete an online application including an essay describing their inspiration to pursue a college degree. Prizes for the program will be provided by Southwest Airlines Co.
Educators and education activists from around the country will form a diverse judging panel this summer to choose the 2016 Travel Award recipients. For more information about the prize and to view the criteria for the 2016 award program, click here. Not eligible for the program? Share it with someone you know!
Since 2005, Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), has awarded 830 students with 1,700 complimentary roundtrip tickets to Latino college students with economic need who pursue higher education at least 200 miles away from home.
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Since 2005, Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), has awarded 1,700 complimentary roundtrip tickets to Latino college students with economic need who pursue higher education at least 200 miles away from home. Applications are currently being accepted for the “¡Lánzate! / Take Off!” Travel Award program. For more information and to apply, please visit HACU. Application deadline is May 13, 2016.
Travel has been provided to 830 students since the program’s inception in 2005, including 2015 student recipient Gabriela Lopez who shared her powerful story in her application:
I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico on August 7, 2013 with two suitcases: one full of personal belongings and the other with an inflatable mattress. I left everything behind including my family. I had never lived away from home and that was the first day I would ever sleep away from my family. The night before I left Chicago, my mother begged me not to go. Telling her that I needed to leave to pursue graduate school was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. My biggest fear when I moved was that my younger sister—who was only one at the time—would forget who I was. Being more than 1,000 miles away from my family was harder than I ever imagined.
My first year of graduate school was absolutely horrible. I was unhappy living in this new city and for many nights I cried because I thought I made the wrong choice. I wasn’t able to fly home to spend Thanksgiving with my family and while I hoped I would enjoy this time with friends, I spent that entire weekend wishing that I were in Chicago. I fell behind on my schoolwork because I was so upset that I was spending my first holiday away from my family. Being so far from home, I often felt disconnected and unprepared because I had no one to guide me. As a first generation college student, there is a lot of “insider knowledge” that is handed down through parents or an older sibling, but that was not handed down to me. For this reason, looking forward to a calendar date when I get to see my family has bolstered my motivation to do better in school. Being away inspired me to mentor undergraduate students of color every semester so that I can tell them everything I wish someone had told me when I started college. Furthermore, one of the reasons I have still remained so motivated to pursue higher education is because I want my younger siblings to have a positive role model to show them that they can pursue higher education too.
My parents have never been able to visit me in New Mexico and I have been living here for almost two years. I will be graduating next year with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a minor in quantitative concentration. If I received these tickets, I would be able to give them to my parents so they can attend my graduation ceremony. My parents often seem unhappy with my choice to move away from home to pursue graduate school, but I know that they are proud of me for everything that I have accomplished and will accomplish in the future. I dream of having my parents watch me walk across the stage to be presented with a Ph.D. I have worked relentlessly on my master’s thesis and would love for my parents to be present when I am recognized for my hard work. Although I have faced many challenges to be able to pursue higher education, I am confident that I will finish graduate school and become the first “Dr. Lopez” in my family.
Since receiving this award, Gaby was able to spend this past Thanksgiving with her family. She particularly enjoyed the ease of being able to book arrival and departure dates that worked best with her school schedule without any financial limitations. She highly recommends this program to any student that lives far from the people they love and experiences financial barriers when planning a trip to visit them.
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Southwest Airlines and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) teamed up 11 years ago to find a solution to the number one barrier keeping Latino students from graduating from college—the inability to stay connected with family while away at school. Through the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award, Southwest Airlines is able to connect deserving students with what’s important in their lives by providing complimentary airfare to travel home and see their families while they’re away from home pursuing higher education. Through this invaluable program, Southwest and HACU have provided travel to more than 800 students and we look forward to continuing this proud tradition in the future.
Southwest Airlines and the HACU are proud to join the nearly 150 public and private sector organizations who answered the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25 th anniversary call to action. Together we made a commitment to not only continue the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award, but to increase the positive difference it makes in the lives of students throughout the country.
“By offering a program that supports student’s higher education goals and travel awards to families who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit with their college-bound student, Southwest Airlines is making a great contribution to Hispanic success in higher education,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities congratulates the student recipients and Southwest Airlines for giving flight to higher education success.”
In 2015, Southwest Airlines and HACU awarded 101 students with complimentary roundtrip airfare as part of the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award. This year, more than 600 students, from freshmen through graduate students, submitted essays displaying their need and desire for travel on Southwest Airlines. In the application essays, students wrote about their personal experiences and the importance of staying connected with their families while pursuing higher education away from home. A panel of judges made up of college professors and educational advocates met to determine the award recipients. Recipients were awarded between one and four roundtrip tickets for travel for themselves or a family member. Southwest awarded 192 tickets this year to encourage students to continue pursuing their dreams in higher education. To see the full list of winning students, please visit: www.hacu.net
Southwest is dedicated to serving the Hispanic community, and the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award is one of the many ways the airline gives back. To learn more about Southwest Airlines’ efforts in the Hispanic community, please visit www.Southwest.com/hispanicoutreach
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Over the last 11 years, Southwest has helped more than 700 students pursue their dreams in higher education. For many Latino students the decision to move far away from home for college comes at a cost. Without the ability to visit home, a student can suffer emotionally and academically. Staying connected to family and the emotional support they provide can often be the difference between a student graduating or dropping out. Southwest Airlines believes in these students’ potential, and that’s why we’re excited to again offer this award to Latino students working so hard toward their dreams.
The ¡Lánzate!/Take off! Higher Education Travel Award is a need and character based award for Latino college students who attend school at least 200 miles away from home. Through our partnership with the Hispanic Association of College and Universities (HACU), we have been able to continue this program for eleven years and give away more than 1,500 roundtrip tickets. By understanding the important role family plays in educational success, Southwest Airlines and HACU are able to work together to help students to achieve their dreams.
Applications for the ¡Lánzate!/Take off! Higher Education Travel Award will be accepted online at www.hacu.net through May 15, 2015. Each applicant must submit an essay describing their inspiration to pursue a college degree. Every student selected will be eligible to receive up to four roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines for use by the student and/or a family member traveling to/from the student’s college. To view the criteria for the 2015 award program, please visit: SWAmedia.
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At Southwest Airlines, we know that everything is bigger in Texas, but did you know that Houston alone is home to more than 500 cultural, visual, and performing arts organizations? Enter the “Let Houston Inspire You!” contest, from December 8–19, 2014, for the spring 2015 weekend trip for a family of four and experience just a fraction of the great art, culture, and cuisine to be had in Houston, Texas.
That’s right—the nation’s fourth largest city is home to dance companies ranging from the Houston Ballet to FrentiCore Dance; opera companies Opera in the Heights, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, and Houston Grand Opera; theater companies such as Talento Bilingüe de Houston, The Ensemble Theatre, and Alley Theatre; and musical ensembles ranging from Mercury to Houston Symphony. The Houston Museum District is one of the largest museum campuses in the country. It includes 19 institutions within walking distance of one another, from The Children’s Museum of Houston to The Menil Collection. Galleries and public art abound in Houston, as well; Houston Arts Alliance manages more than 500 works of art that make up the city’s public art collection.
Let Houston Inspire You!
Contestants may enter with a chance to win this Houston-inspired spring 2015 weekend for a family of four at HoustonisInspired.com from 10 a.m. CST, Monday, December 8, 2014, to midnight CST, Friday, December 19, 2014. The “Let Houston Inspire You!" Sweepstakes includes:
Roundtrip air travel on Southwest Airlines ® for winner and three (3) family members or guests from the closest major airport to winner's residence served by Southwest Airlines ® on published, scheduled service (subject to Southwest Airlines terms and conditions; certain restrictions may apply) to Houston, TX (Hobby Airport)
Two rooms for two consecutive nights, for up to four (4) people at an area hotel
Dining experience for four (4) at three acclaimed Houston restaurants
Houston CityPASS, compliments of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, with admission for four (4) to:
Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston OR Children’s Museum of Houston, Houston Zoo OR The Kemah Boardwalk, and tickets to a local live performance for four (4) based on availability
The winner will be contacted by a representative of Houston Arts Alliance on January 6, 2015. Travel and accommodation plans must be made no later than January 30, 2015, for travel in spring 2015.
This Sweepstakes is open to all legal residents ages 21 and older of the United States and the District of Columbia, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
Void where prohibited.
See official rules at http://houstonisinspired.com/contest/rules. Sweepstakes ends December 19, 2014. There will be only one winner selected. Only one entry per immediate family is allowed.
For more information and to see the official rules, please visit HoustonisInspired.com.
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For the past ten years, Southwest has helped hundreds of students reach their dreams with higher education. Those dreams can be difficult to reach when students don’t have access to the travel needed to stay connected with family. For many Latino students, the inability to stay connected to family while attending a college far from home can make the difference between graduating and dropping out of school, and it is often cited as the number one reason why they do not complete their secondary education. That’s why we’re excited to again offer this award to Latino students working so hard toward their dreams.
The "Dandole Alas a Tu Exito/Giving Flight to Your Success" travel award program is geared toward college students with economic need who attend a school far from home. Through this program Southwest Airlines, together with Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), is helping Hispanic students pursue higher education.
Applications for the ¡Lánzate! Travel Award program will be accepted online at www.hacu.net through May 15, 2014. Each applicant must submit an essay describing their inspiration to pursue a college degree. Each student selected will be eligible for up to four tickets for use by the student and/or a family member traveling to/from the student’s college. To view the criteria for the 2014 award program, please visit: SWAmedia.
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In 2005, Southwest Airlines and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) set out on a mission to make a difference in the lives of Hispanic college students across the nation. For many students the inability to stay connected to family while attending a college far from home is an obstacle to achieving success. One or two trips home each year allows students to stay connected to family and better manage the change and challenge of higher education. These visits may make the difference if a student is contemplating dropping out of college.
The "Dandole Alas a Tu Exito/Giving Flight to Your Success" travel award program is geared toward college students with economic need who attend a school far from home. Through this program Southwest Airlines, together with HACU, is helping Hispanic students pursue higher education.
“Because we live in a rural area, the cost of gas to travel to the nearest airport is an additional factor in determining whether/when I am able to go home,” said Analisa, a 2012 ¡Lánzate! travel award recipient. “The intellectual, social, and emotional challenges are even greater due to the fact that I am so far away from home and unable to rely on the support and encouragement of my family as I did in high school. Obtaining travel on Southwest Airlines would bring some peace of mind to me and my family.”
Southwest Airlines and HACU are proud to make a difference in the lives of students like Analisa.
Applications for the ¡Lánzate! Travel Award program will be accepted online at www.hacu.net through May 15, 2013. Each applicant must submit an essay describing their inspiration to pursue a college degree. Each student selected will be eligible for up to four tickets for use by the student and/or a family member traveling to/from the student’s college. To view the criteria for the 2013 award program, please visit: http://swamedia.com/documents/Criteria2013.pdf
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This St. Patty’s Day, Southwest Airlines had the opportunity to celebrate the greenest day of the year with a truly Green cause!The Tour de Houston urban bike ride, now in its eighth year, took place on St. Patrick’s Day this year. This signature event is a quality civic experience that promotes a healthy lifestyle and biking as an alternative mode of transportation. Semi-professional riders as well as families and leisure bike riders get to enjoy a premier recreational biking event while replenishing Houston’s urban forest.
Funds raised from this year’s ride will benefit Houston’s reforestation efforts. Since 2005, more than 100,000 trees have been planted in Houston parks and funds raised from the ride benefit the RE-Plant Houston program managed by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
“This annual Houston tradition has become a staple in our city,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “I’ve been riding in the Tour de Houston since it began in 2005 and I can’t tell you how excited and motivated I am this year. Since 2005, we have successfully produced this annual, unique and fun ride for Houstonians. We couldn’t have done so without our Sponsors who work diligently to provide a fun and safe route for our cyclists and to the Mayor’s Office of Special Events for producing this ride.”
Volunteers at the Southwest Airlines rest stop handed out Green Southwest buttons as well as flower seed cards that can be planted in the ground. Not only will the Tour de Houston participants contribute to the Houston reforestation efforts, riders can plant a few flowers in their yard courtesy of Southwest Airlines. It doesn’t get much greener than that!
To learn more about
our sustainability, please visit the 2011 Southwest Airlines One Report™.
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Southwest Airlines, in partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), is excited to announce its 8th year of the “Dándole Alas a Tu Éxito/Giving Flight to Your Success program,” an annual education travel award program for undergraduate and graduate students. This program is designed to help students stay connected to their families while they complete their college education.
For many students, the freedom to fly home during the holidays might be the deciding factor between staying at school and dropping out. Together, Southwest Airlines and HACU have addressed an important need for students, the support of their families and a constant connection to their home. We are proud that through our valuable partnership with HACU, we have contributed to the success of hundreds of students
To participate, students need to submit an essay explaining why they deserve the travel award and what inspires them to pursue a college degree. Online applications will be accepted through April 30, 2012, at www.hacu.net.
The essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of college professors and education advocates. The winners will receive up to four roundtrip tickets to fly Southwest Airlines to and from their college destination in order to stay connected with their families. The tickets will be awarded to Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students, with socio-economic needs, who journey away from home to pursue higher education.
"Over the last eight years, the Lánzate travel program has enabled hundreds of college students to remain close to their families while pursuing degrees at institutions that are sometimes located on the opposite end of the country," said HACU President and CEO Dr. Antonio R. Flores. "HACU is proud to partner with Southwest Airlines on this important program."
If you know of a student who might qualify for this great opportunity, please be sure and ask them to visit www.hacu.net to apply.
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The Mayor of San Antonio finally got caught holding the bags. (Of peanuts and pretzels, that is!) And here’s the evidence! We presented Mayor Julián Castro with those small tokens of appreciation after he read a formal proclamation to Southwest Airlines Employees from SAT and DAL. And all this took place in the solemn chambers of the San Antonio City Hall.
At an official recognition ceremony this week, Mayor Castro presented Southwest Airlines Leaders with a proclamation commemorating our 40th anniversary. While he cannot state that we are the official airline of the City of San Antonio, he said that we are surely the City’s “hometown carrier”!
This milestone proclamation was lead by Councilman Reed Williams—another great public servant—who championed the idea of recognizing our Company with this Proclamation. At the ceremony, he commended us for enduring so much adversity when we started out and also thanked the Company for investing in the City both at the airport and with our Customer Support Center. Then, Councilman Ray Lopez also expressed his congratulations, recognizing our Legendary Customer service and remarkable operations.
As you may know, San Antonio is where the famous Texas triangle was first drawn on a cocktail napkin in the bar at the St. Anthony Hotel. While I don’t know for certain, I suspect that it could have been smudged with the scent of Wild Turkey!
Although we didn’t make it to the St. Anthony to celebrate this week, we did enjoy a celebratory toast as we looked out over the Riverwalk instead, thanks to Rusty Arnold, our SAT Station Leader. Our group shared stories and enjoyed some good food and libations, but unlike 40 years ago, our cocktail napkins seemed to have a trace smell of tequila!
Happy 40th, everyone! And, as Mayor Castro said, “We hope to see at least another 40 years!”
It was a fabulous day for our People to participate in another great milestone.
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It was a moment to hear from our modern day philosophers -- in a remarkable setting. Shoes, lanyards, love, writing, world problems, politicians, and HIV all took stage in a magical world of words.
A room at the East Wing of the White House was set with small round table each with six simple, but cushy chairs--you know the ones with pillows on the seat so that there are no uncomfortable distractions. The 15 or so tables, like the room, were full of people brimming with quiet anticipation. The small stage held a podium, microphones, a few music stands, and a beautiful brown baby grand piano with what looked like Greek or Roman figures; and the carved front leg of a bald eagle!
Everything fit just right, like our Customers in their seats--with just enough space for everyone awaiting a good performance. Unlike our flights though, there was no announcement to turn off anything with an on/off switch. Surprisingly, in the age of iPhones, iPads, and Blackberries, not one unit rang, beeped, or buzzed during this performance.
The room with long gold drapes and simple, but elegant chandelier lighting opened for "An Evening of Poetry". If only for a few brief moments, poets' words transformed daily distractions and mundane memories into intro- and extro-pections to contemplate our spiritual selves! (Our Southwest Airlines poets are more funny with down to earth humor. Plus, I doubt we'll see the President and First Lady on a flight any time soon!)
The President and First Lady stayed for the entire performance, to hear words set to rhythm, raps and music. There was no doubt that it was an exciting evening to hear creative minds young and older speak on complex and humorous issues. I can only be grateful to have had this marvelous lifetime experience--to attend "An Evening of Poetry" at the White House (and to work for Southwest Airlines).
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Education is like yeast. If that ingredient is omitted, you can expect the bread to come out flat!
When I learned that more than one half of all U.S. Hispanics quit high school and do not go on to college, I could see that their future was not going to rise. This is what sparked a creative conversation with the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU). Their focus is to get students from high school and into college; to graduate from college, and then into the real world of work.
This was not an easy conversation, because so many scholarships and grants were already out there. Everyone insisted that the only way Southwest Airlines could help was with cash scholarships. But in my mind, this was the same old technique by a Corporation that would not make a unique contribution. It’s like getting a cash gift on your birthday. That’s nice—especially in this economy—but it has no lively personality.
These were some of the thoughts that went into the mix:
How can we use Southwest’s strength to create a unique recipe for student success in higher education?
How can we capture HACU’s strength to add to this one-of-kind recipe?
With HACU’s willingness and vision, I proposed the “Take Off!/Lánzate” Travel Award, where we could help students stay connected to family and contribute in our unique Southwest-way to complete their college education.
Six years later, the program is going strong, and we have supported hundreds of students and their families in their journey toward a higher education, and we see nothing but success on the rise for them.
They were like a delicious cake that was not going to come up short!
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I found out the answer to that question recently at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon. So, here they are: the five principles for any group to be a success from wildcatter and savvy businessman Ray Hunt :
#5 Be contrarian with a purpose. Advances in communication now cause herd mentality. That is not desirable. Going in the opposite direction will leave an open field of opportunity!
#4 Agility. It relates to how quickly or how long it takes to do #3
#3 Adaptability to changing circumstances.
#2 Ability to differentiate. This helps the organization stand apart and avoid being average.
And the secret is out!
The #1 principle that determines a successful group is a good corporate culture, which includes a strong value system and work ethic.
I like that Mr. Hunt mentioned only Southwest Airlines to this power-packed room to explain the most important principle of a successful group. It was hard not to cheer for Southwest, but the room was silent--hanging on Mr. Hunt's every word with almost 500 business leaders doing like my colleagues Beth Harbin and Monica Whalin-- listening intently! Plus cheering was not one of the successful principles.
Beth (left) and Monica were really listening intently...until I asked them to smile for this photo!
While I'd like to contradict Mr. Hunt's bits of wisdom to prove that, somehow, I am contrarian and smart, I think I'll just demonstrate a good work ethic and get back to work!
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One of the most exciting opportunities that I’ve encountered through my work with the Southwest Airlines Community Affairs and Grassroots Team was my super trip to Washington, DC that included an invitation to meet President and Mrs. Obama during the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House.
President and Mrs. Obama greet the group.
It was definitely a first for me. First time in the Blue Room; first time in the East Wing; and first time in the Rose Garden.
Christine (center) and the Folklorico Dancers
It was great to see so many other prominent leaders enjoying the evening and the magnificent outdoor setting that overlooks the lawn to the Washington Monument. Guests included Emilio Estefan, Aaron Williams with the Peace Corps , Congressmen Charles Gonzalez and Ben Ray Lujan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, to name a few.
Congressman Gonzalez and Secretary Solis (center)
It was an exciting and humbling feeling to be at this celebration. I was very grateful for the invitation that came from the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative of San Antonio, where I serve as board member of this nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence.
Christine and Patricia Castillo, Executive Director of the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative
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A well educated work force is critical to the economic well-being of our country, and Southwest Airlines has long supported education through a number of channels including our acclaimed Adopt-A-Pilot program and various scholarship opportunities such as our ¡Lánzate! /Take Off! Travel Award, designed to help Latino students stay connected to their families as they pursue higher education.
For the past five years, Southwest Airlines has awarded the ¡Lánzate! /Take Off! Travel Award to undergraduate and graduate Latino students with socio-economic need who journey away from home for school.
Applicants must submit an essay explaining why they deserve the travel award and what inspires them to pursue a college degree. A panel of judges comprised of college professors and education advocates from coast-to-coast will gather in the summer to select the winning essays. The winners are eligible to receive from one to four complimentary roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines, which the student or an immediate family member may use to travel to/from school.
One previous ¡Lánzate! recipient states: “Being able to reconnect with my family back home is essential to my academic achievement. In them, I find emotional as well as spiritual support to continue this journey in being the first one in my family to attain a PhD. The Lanzate program was able to financially facilitate these most needed visits.”
Another recipient writes: “It has made a dramatic difference in my staying in school. It is difficult financially to purchase tickets from Michigan to California on a student budget. Being able to see my family, who is my greatest support, made a difference in my academics.”
Southwest Airlines is happy to make a difference in the lives of so many families. Over time, this investment in young people will make a greater impact when they 'take off!' as productive contributing citizens in our communities.
If you know a student who is eligible and in need of the Lánzate! /Take Off! Travel Award, please click here for more information.
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I admit that I am a bit surprised by the negative comments posted here. NCLR has attracted attention from both national parties, and as I wrote above, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama spoke to the convention. It appears that some of the contention in the comments has to do with names.
A word or name can say a lot about an organization. At the same time, its interpretation can change according to where someone lives or their specific experience with the word.
Take for example the name Southwest Airlines. While there's no denying that we were "born" in Texas and have been around now for more than 37 years, as we have grown, so has how people view us. We are recognized and understood very well with our strong schedules and frequent flights in the Southwest. Yet we now fly coast to coast and provide a breadth of service that may not be easily identified with us. In the newer communities like Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood, or Denver, we are relatively newcomers and Customers may still reserve judgment.
Sometimes Customers get us mixed up and think we charge change fees like the other airlines. For example, they think that we charge for all bags--which we don't--the first two bags are free. We offer the best Customer Service and have the best Employees in the airline industry. Often, Customers think we fly only in the southwest even though we now serve New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Washington state, and Oregon.
My point is that only Southwest Airlines can truly express who we are by continually proving ourselves and offering those longhaul flights to our Customers who will eventually come to understand that we have more to offer.
NCLR has a historical name that may also be misunderstood, but when looking at their members and mission, it is clear that they are committed to building stronger communities in five areas: assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. They have received numerous awards from highly respected and knowledgeable groups such as AARP and American GI Forum, as well as respected individuals like First Lady Laura Bush, to name a few.
It remains a question of proving oneself and experiencing the work and progress made by them over time. As of now, it seems that NCLR has a proven track record that deserves support.
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Statistics, glitz, and politics... While this might sound like the national Census gala at the White House, it was not. It was the 40th anniversary of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a national civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.
It was standing room only at the two luncheons where Senator Barak Obama and later Senator John McCain addressed the group. Obama hit several emotional and eloquent points, where he was loudly cheered and liked. McCain held his own in a town hall style meeting after his address taking on some hard-hitting questions. It seems that his candor and honesty may have earned him some points in the crowd.
More than 5,000 people attended the workshops, town hall meetings, and leadership training sessions in San Diego. Southwest Airlines hosted the Affiliate Luncheon where more than 2,000 community leaders joined to hear from L.A.'s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and where we heard Dr. Samuel Betances speak about everything from education to aging. He humorously talked of his wife and shared his view that women do not have hot flashes, they have power surges! And with a 48% high school drop out rate among Latinos, he talked about how the best economic stimulus package is a college degree!
At the affiliate luncheon, on July 12, I had an opportunity to address the group as well. I shared my thoughts on our connection to NCLR with this quote:
"Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres." -- Tell me who you are with, and I'll tell you who you are.
This is a proverb I first heard from Dominga & Juan Medrano, my grandparents when I was a little girl growing up in Texas. At the end of my talk, I asked attendees to think of other proverbs they learned growing up and to please share them with us as well. I look forward to hearing from you on our blog.
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Have you heard of the Take Off!/ ¡Lanzate! Education travel award? For the third year in a row, Southwest Airlines is offering travel to disadvantaged students who travel away from home to attend college. The cool thing about this award is that Latino students can use the ticket(s) to bring a parent or loved one to visit them at school, or they can jet home to see the family.
Maria Elena Cruz pictured in the photo was a past recipient. Her interest in Mexican Anthropology ties to strong family roots where her family hailed from a line of Mexican huichol chiefs. She was totally thrilled to receive the tickets as the best school for her field of study in Mexican Anthropology, was in Austin, TX. A Californian from a home of modest means, Maria Elena felt a tremendous relief to know that she would be able to stay connected to her family, and could not believe she was selected! She thought that there was little chance anyone would care about her dream to obtain her Masters so far from home.
The other good news is that the deadline to apply for the travel award has been extended to June 29. If you know a Latino student who is enrolled in a college or university away from home who maintains a minimum 2.5 GPA and has a financial need, please encourage him or her to apply. For more information and for complete requirements, click here for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities web site.
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