WSU receives $1 million gift for students of color scholarships


Khanh Nguyen

President Jay Golden speaks at the press conference hosted by WSU Foundation. The press conference was held at Marcus Welcome Center on Aug 31, 2020.

A donation of $520,000 from Gene and Yolanda Camarena will be matched in full by Wichita State and will be put towards providing scholarships to 20 Hispanic and Black students yearly for the upcoming four years. The donation was announced at a news conference behind the Marcus Welcome Center Monday.

The scholarship program is called the Shocker Adelante Scholars. “Adelante” is Spanish for “to move forward” or “to get ahead”.

Along with the scholarship program, the gift will also provide funding for mentoring and tutoring for scholarship recipients, support recipients who’ve an entrepreneurial interest by underwriting their participation in WSU’s Microenterprises Program, create a visiting professor program, and hire a full-time diversity recruiter.

“We are excited to start what we hope is a long term partnership with Wichita State University, focused on the university’s diversity and inclusion initiatives,” Yolanda Camarena said. “As Latino college students ourselves one time, we know firsthand about the financial and cultural barriers that students of color can encounter during the educational process. We also understood the lifelong positive impact that a college education can have on each student.”

Wichita State student Tony Ibarra said that the Camarenas have supported him through his education and believes that the donation reflects their hearts.

“As a Kansas Hispanic Education Development Foundation scholar, I have witnessed the awesome authenticity in Gene and Yolanda,” Ibarra said. “Always at the forefront, ready to help students succeed in every way possible. A mission rooted and unmatched in nature, passion, and empathy. [They] both understand my situation as a Dreamer, yet [They] continue to support [and are] animate on providing resources to [ensure] my success in college and life.

Yolanda Camarena speaks at the news conference hosted by WSU Foundation. Gene and Yolanda Camarena donated $1 Million with the mission of helping students of color succeed at WSU. (Khanh Nguyen/ The Sunflower)

“These are just some examples among many others that show how Gene and Yolanda are always ready to make a difference in young people’s lives.”

Yolanda Camarena is a Wichita State graduate and furthered her education at Harvard University where she completed a Master’s in Public Policy and Education. Gene Camarena graduated from the University of Kansas and earned a Master’s in Business Administration at the Harvard University School of Business.

“We hope our gift will inspire others to give, to make a difference, [and] will have a lasting impact on our students and the university for generations to come,” Yolanda Camarena said.

WSU Provost Rick Muma said that the gift will allow WSU to dig deeper in Latinx studies.

“This gift will help us to enhance our focus on Latinx studies … through our visiting professor program,” Provost Rick Muma said. “Latinx students are the fastest growing demographic among our students here at the university and these professors will help develop and teach the Latinx focused curriculum, mentor students, and deepen our relationship in the Latinx community.”

WSU President Jay Golden said that the couple’s gift will be able to help further the university’s vision.

“[Our vision] is to provide an affordable, an accessible, [and] impactful education. If we can do that we are one of the greatest universities in the country and that is the path we are on,” WSU President Golden said. “The gift today … lays the foundation for us to succeed. Their commitment to to only take this first step but to continue with us on this pathway and to provide the mentorship, the advice to the president, [and] the partnership to an institution is critical. And that’s why we’re so excited today.”