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NMSU alumna Sarah Keesling teaches an algebra class at Onate High School in Las Cruces where she is employed as a special education teacher. Keesling received financial aid from the Wolslager Foundation while a student at DACC and NMSU.

which enables them to develop interests and skills that will ultimately allow them and their families to have a better life,” he says. Unlike most foundations, which are set up to operate in perpetuity, it was decided that the Wolslager Foundation would spend down its assets within a specific time frame. In December 2013, the foundation made its last regular grant distribution. “The founders believed that the problems that currently exist in our society would only worsen over time unless a great deal of progress was made in addressing them within this generation,” Wolslager says. “By accelerating the foundation’s payout to significantly increase the resources available to the local nonprofit community, they hoped to make a greater impact today, rather than tomorrow.”

DACC scholarships awarded......................................... 521 Las Cruces campus scholarships awarded.............. 154 Total students receiving support.......................................... 675 Total scholarship funds disbursed.................$2.29 million Scholarship recipients who transferred from DACC to NMSU-Las Cruces.......................82 and the late Josephine S. Wolslager previously owned and operated their CocaCola bottling franchises, which included Coca-Cola Bottling of Las Cruces and Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling in El Paso. This goal has been met by the foundation, providing support for educational opportunities including scholarships, improving and expanding medical facilities and health services, and supporting programs and projects that facilitate development of children and youth, as well as services beneficial to elderly citizens. Since 1996, the Wolslager Foundation has distributed more than $44 million to more than 190 nonprofit organizations in southeastern Arizona, south-central New Mexico and West Texas. “Almost all of our scholarship recipients are the first in their families to obtain an advanced degree,” says Stephen J. Wolslager, the grandson of J.W. and Josephine and president of the foundation. “They are typically older than the average college student and the majority of them work at least part time, if not full time, in addition to taking a full course load. Many of them are also parents, which is profound in that they are setting an incredible example for their children to follow.” According to Wolslager, the NMSU Foundation has received almost half of the Wolslager Foundation’s distributions made in New Mexico and was the third largest beneficiary of the foundation’s funding as a whole. “My grandparents believed that the best way to help someone realize their full potential was through education,


“I was not even convinced I would be able to succeed, having been the first generation in my family to pursue higher education,” Mendez says. “The scholarship was the reassurance I needed to get to realize that it was possible. They believed in me.” Mendez was given the opportunity to earn a second bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2013 as she studied abroad for a year and did volunteer work with underprivileged children. The campus TRIO program also was a great help to Mendez, who is on track to earn a master’s degree in May. The foundation also funded STEM initiatives, including the Science Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy or SEMAA, a partnership between the NMSU colleges of Education and Engineering. NMSU has been able to engage public school students in southern New Mexico in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology. The foundation made a difference in the lives of students in the NMSU College of Engineering summer PREP program. The Pre Freshman Engineering Program is an academically intensive six-week summer program for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders that includes hands-on experiments and projects such as building robots and rockets. The Wolslager Foundation was established to improve the quality of life for individuals in the area where J.W.


NMSU alumna and current graduate student Vanessa Mendez chats with a student in her office at NMSU, where she is employed as a program adviser and graduate teaching assistant in the Communication Studies department. Mendez received financial aid from the Wolslager Foundation while an undergraduate student.

For Mendez, the scholarship not only opened doors of opportunity, it also served as an inspiration for her to help others. As a first-generation college student, Mendez says, “it makes a world of difference knowing someone is willing to invest in someone like me … for them to help others and bless others and they don’t even know you. “It inspires me as a Christian to be a blessing to others as well, to inspire others and to believe in others as they did in me,” she says. Spring 2016 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


Panorama - Spring 2016  

Panorama is NMSU's Alumni and Friends magazine. To read the current issue, visit To view the Fall 2016 issue as a...

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