RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – The Starr-Camargo Bridge Company has donated $100,000 to South Texas College Foundation, the largest award since the organization’s establishment earlier this fall.

The STC Foundation was established to raise scholarship funds from donors, business partners and philanthropists.

Sam Vale is president of Starr-Camargo Bridge Company. He presented STC with the first installment of the funds at recent ceremony at STC’s Starr County Campus in Rio Grande City.

Vale said the funding will be spread over the next ten years. He said it would be known as the “Rose First Starr Fund,” in honor of Rose Benavidez, a Starr County native who chairs the STC board of trustees.

The funding coincides with Benavidez’s recent inauguration in New York City as the first Latina to be named board chair of the American Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), a nonprofit educational organization representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States.

Vale said the funds presented to the STC Foundation will go toward scholarships for deserving students who are looking to pursue a higher education. With the average student loan debt hovering around $30,000 per borrower, deciding where to study and what to major in can be very risky business and the scholarship will help to offset those challenges, he explained.

“Where this came from is the fact that Rose (Benavidez) has been an important fixture in my life for a long time…so this brought me to thinking how to honor a person who has been outstanding in my life,” Vale said. “This is why we came up with the concept of the Rose First Starr Fund that will add an additional $100,000 to be spent over the next 10 years and will be focused on how we help people get through their final college degree.”

STC President Ricardo Solis spoke at the Starr County campus event.

“As a trustee, Rose is very much respected among all trustees across the nation who saw her not just as a Latina but as somebody from South Texas representing opportunity,” Solis said. “This is a historical moment for our community with South Texas in the national spotlight. This is a great accomplishment.”

Also present was U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents Starr County in Congress. “When you have someone from Starr County who is now chair of this association as well as its first Hispanic, that’s a big deal,” Cuellar said. “Higher education is really the great equalizer we have in our society. It doesn’t really matter where you come from it’s about where it’s moving you to, and it provides students with the tools they need to succeed. STC has changed lives and I am so proud that Rose will benefit us across the nation.”

Benavidez follows in her late father’s footsteps. Manuel Benavidez, who was a founding STC Board of Trustee. He served in ACCT as chair of Diversity Committee and was selected as a Regional Trustee of the Year. He ultimately received an ACCT Lifetime Membership Award in 2005 for his leadership. 

The younger Benavidez was first elected to the ACCT Board in 2017 representing ACCT’s western region and like her father, served as chair of the Diversity Committee. 

“As I walked into this room, I immediately felt all of this wonderful energy not just about celebrating me but the fact that we all understand the importance of having representation of ensuring that we recognize when those opportunities are around for us to be able to share with others,” Benavidez said. “We all share in the vision of continuing to transform this community. I decided a long time ago that this was not about accolades or recognition, but responsibility –  that I needed to do more to make certain that this community becomes a better place.”

Here are three videos from the check presentation:


Starr-Camargo Bridge Company President Sam Vale


STC Board Chair Rose Benavidez


Starr County Judge Eloy Vera

Editor’s Note: For more information about the STC Foundation or to make a financial gift, contact Maritza L. Hernandez, executive administrative assistant for the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Economic Development at 956-872-2048.

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