The Jesús De Anda Scholarship has been started at Moraine Valley Community College to help Latinx students who are pursuing a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) major at Moraine Valley Community College. De Anda’s family worked with the Moraine Valley Foundation to create this scholarship in his honor after he passed away in 2020.
“My father did not have a lot of formal education,” said Paula DeAnda-Shah, an associate professor at Moraine Valley, who was inspired to start the scholarship with her mother and three sisters. “He was one of 10 children, and his family did agricultural work, so when it was a busy season, he did not attend school. He often shared with us how much he loved going to school as a young boy, and how he viewed education as something precious.”
As an immigrant from Mexico, who eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen, De Anda worked for many years at Zenith Electronics, where he made and repaired machines. When the company closed, he began his own business and consulted for several major companies making custom machines that utilized processes that were safer, more efficient and automated.
“Our dad even taught himself how to use AutoCAD, so he could design machine parts,” DeAnda-Shah said. As a self-made engineer, he designed and built many machines, eventually earning a U.S. patent for one.
De Anda never lost his enthusiasm for learning, earning his GED at age 62.
“By then, he’d had a career and his own business. He had a patent, but this was a milestone he wanted to reach for himself,” DeAnda-Shah said. He encouraged his daughters to attend college and often told them education was going to be like wings that would allow them to take flight.
His lifelong appreciation for education inspired his family to start a scholarship in his name. Their goal was to raise $1,000 to help a student with tuition and books.
“We are grateful so many family members and friends contributed, so we have a little over $3,000, which means we can award up to three scholarships this year,” DeAnda-Shah said. The family intends to continue the scholarship by raising funds each year.
They decided to honor De Anda’s Mexican heritage and his career by supporting Latinx students pursuing a STEM career.
“Latinx students are an underrepresented group in STEM, so we wanted to offer a scholarship specifically for those students,” she said. “We hope we’re contributing to diversifying STEM fields.”
De Anda’s family believes he would have loved the idea of the scholarship transforming a student’s life.
“He always had this idea that nothing’s impossible. That’s behind this scholarship. We want recipients to see if they get their education, the world opens up, and they can do anything,” DeAnda-Shah said.
For more information on creating a scholarship with the Moraine Valley Foundation, contact Kristy McGreal, executive director of the Foundation, at email@example.com.