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Graduate’s Love of Music Takes him Far

Luis MendezBROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 14, 2012 – Luis Arturo Méndez believes his passion for music is what led him to choose The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, but the financial help he received from scholarships is what kept him here.

The 25-year-old music education graduate student from Puebla, Mexico received support from the Sjoerd Steunebrink Scholarship Endowment and Roberto Pulido Endowment for Music.

“Receiving these scholarships was a key point in my college career,” Méndez explained. “By covering that basic economic need, that is, paying for school, it transformed my mindset from one of worrying about money every second of the day into one that instead thought about what next goal to achieve and how to achieve it.”

The Sjoerd Steunebrink Endowment was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System in 1999 through gift funds by the Sjoerd Steunebrink Estate of Boise, Idaho. The Roberto Pulido Endowment for Music was established by Tejano music star Roberto Pulido to help aspiring music students in their education.

In 2005, Mendez decided to apply UTB and TSC to study the piano in the Department of Music. He dreamt of a future in music, and he said he knew studying at the Department of Music would help him achieve that dream.

“I imagined myself as a doctor in piano performance and jazz studies,” Méndez said. “I want to work as a piano teacher, performer, impresario, accompanist, choir-jazz-orchestra director and composer.”

Méndez remembers having to audition with Richard Urbiš, Professor of Fine Arts in the Department of Music. He recalls the anxiety he felt after that first audition, wondering whether he had been good enough to earn entrance to the program. He said his mother was worried about the financial difficulties that would face their family if he was accepted.

“Our hearts leapt when they called us into the conference room after the audition,” Méndez said. “When they told me they were giving me a full scholarship as well as the opportunity to apply for more endowments to complete my bachelor’s degree in music, my mother and I cried. I knew I had to make the most of this opportunity.”

Méndez finished his degree in music education performance in May 2010.

“Luis is a very fine pianist and scholar,” Urbiš said. “He works extremely hard at his craft and has achieved much because of his great work ethic. In five years, he has progressed as much as others have progressed in twelve. Every note he plays is full of artistic honesty and conviction. I have enjoyed my work with him immensely.”

In that time, Méndez won several awards for his educational and music merit including the Scholastic Music Award and the Alpha Chi Medal Award; he earned scholarships such as the Jazz Band Talent Scholarship (2005), the Housing Talent Scholarship (2007), the International Student Scholarship (2009), and most recently the Roberto Pulido Scholarship (2012).

In 2009, he was one of the 18 finalists chosen to perform for The Young Artist Competition organized by The Tuesday Musical Club in San Antonio. He has performed piano concerts in his hometown of Puebla, Mexico at Casa de las Bóvedas at Benemérito Instituto Normal del Estado, at the Alerce Art Gallery, and in November of last year, he was invited to perform “Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.413 in F Major” with the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla Orchestra.

Méndez performed at the Municipal Palace Gallery as part of the “Mucha Música 2009” festival. He has traveled to Valencia, Spain, to perform at the Conservatorio Profesional de Música en Ribarroja del Turia. Most recently, he performed as part of the “Honors Recital Competition” held by the music department in March.

Méndez plans to finish his master’s degree in music education in 2013. After that, he wants to go back to Puebla for a time and work in music. The success he has found in the musical world has only served to further ignite his passion for piano and performance. The future is wide open for him, as long as it includes music.

For more information about creating a scholarship endowment or other ways to help students, contact Laurie Howell, University Relations Executive Director, at laurie.howell@utb.edu or 956-882-4334. More information giving opportunities can be found on the university website or email giving@utb.edu

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