(KINGSVILLE, TX) — Six students in the inaugural class of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy recently were awarded scholarships for the 2006-07 academic year.

Verenice Olmeda of Pharr received the Clemente Garcia Scholarship; Brian Cook of Corpus Christi the Texas Federation of Drug Stores Scholarship; Maria Theresa Garcia of Houston the Robert S. Gerald Scholarship; Irma Martinez of Zapata the P.M. Rangel Family Scholarship; Joel Sauceda of Laredo the D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust & Lamar-Bruni Vergara Trust Scholarship; and Jennifer Thompson of Ore City the Wal-Mart Pharmacy Division Scholarship.

Nancy Dickey, M.D., president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Affairs for the A&M System, recognized the scholarship recipients at the Feb. 16 dedication of the statue of the late District 35 Rep. Irma Lerma Rangel, chair of the House Higher Education Committee for whom the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy is named.

Located on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus and the first stand-alone professional school south of San Antonio, the HSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy is the only accredited or “pre-candidate” pharmacy school named after a Hispanic. A 63,000-square-foot facility features wireless access and research laboratories.

The Clemente Garcia Scholarship – a one-time $1,500 award – recognizes the late Clemente Garcia, a well-known and respected South Texas pharmacist and civic leader.

“Mr. Garcia was a pharmacist for 45 years, and it means a lot to us to be able to award this scholarship to a worthy student who will follow and promote the ideals of pharmacy,” said Gracie Garcia, his widow. “Pharmacy is important to our family, and we know the recipient will do honor to the profession. This scholarship in the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy also is important because we are honoring the Rangel family, who we personally knew, and I know this award will mean a lot to them.”

Ms. Olmeda, the scholarship recipient, said she is both honored and grateful.

“The scholarship has helped me not only to obtain my school supplies but also, most importantly, to value the importance of having a helping hand in such a rigorous time of my life,” Ms. Olmeda said. “I would like to express my reverence for the Garcia family’s commitment to help students. Mr. Clemente Garcia’s help has inspired me to also want to help students in the future.”

The endowed Texas Federation of Drug Stores Scholarship is established in honor of “the voice” of chain pharmacy in Texas. The $1,000 award for the academic year goes to a pharmacy student in the school’s most senior class with an interest in retail pharmacy.

In honor of the late Robert Sumter Gerald – a highly decorated World War II pilot in the Army Air Corps from Goldthwaite, Texas – the endowed Robert S. Gerald Scholarship is a $1,000 award for the academic year. Second semester renewal is based on continued performance in accordance with established standards, and recipients must be a resident of South Texas for at least a year prior to the scholarship award.

The endowed P.M. Rangel Family Scholarship honors the late District 35 Rep. Irma Lerma Rangel, chair of the House Higher Education Committee for whom the college is named. The $1,500 scholarship covers the academic year, with second semester renewal based on continued performance in accordance with established standards. Recipients must be a resident of South Texas for at least a year prior to the scholarship award.

The endowed D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust & Lamar-Bruni Vergara Trust Scholarship honoring D.D. Hachar goes to students from Webb County pursuing pre-pharmacy and pharmacy curriculums at Texas A&M University-Kingsville at $3,000 per year for the first two years, provided the recipients are admitted to the HSC-COP. The Lamar-Bruni Vegara Trust Fund, through the D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust Fund, is a $4,000 annual award during the entire four-year professional program.

The late Laredo philanthropist and businessman Demetrio David (D.D.) Hachar was a Lebanese immigrant. The trust has become one of the largest philanthropic efforts devoted to health and educational opportunities in South Texas.

The Wal-Mart Pharmacy Division Scholarship is presented to a student in high scholastic standing and with strong leadership qualities who has a desire to enter community practice upon graduating.

— Blair Williamson