The man behind the scholarship

Johanna Poppel

The Division of Diversity, Access and Equity (DDAE) held its third annual Agapito Mendoza scholarship breakfast on Friday, March 18 in the Pierson Auditorium.

“While assisting Latino/Latina students through awarding of the Mendoza Scholarships, DDAE also is able to help retain the students through their graduation,” said deputy DDAE chancellor Karen Dace.

“Support of the breakfast [helps] us carry on Dr. Mendoza’s tradition of support for each and every student in their particular academic dream.”

Mendoza was born in El Paso, Texas on Sept. 20, 1946.

He served in the U.S Air Force for four years to pay for college.

After graduating from the University of Texas, he went on to teach middle school, while working on his Masters Degree and then earned his Ph.D. in Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma.

He served as the Assistant Director of Student Services and Director of the Latino Cultural House at the University of Illinois.

In 1986, he arrived at UMKC and served as Vice Provost for Affirmative Action from 1986 to 2002.

Mendoza’s impact on campus was noticed immediately.

He established many of UMKC’s policies and procedures involving Affirmative Action, academic hiring and was an active voice in local Latino issues.

He was involved in many organizations and committees in Kansas City, such as the Greater Kansas City Committee on Latino Concerns and the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations.

Most importantly, Mendoza impacted students in a positive way by committing to them and making them feel valued.

He taught others about the Hispanic culture and tradition.

“I encountered him as a high school student before coming to UMKC,” stated a Missouri Valley Special Collections article by José Faus, Mendoza’s student. “He was so inspirational, so motivational, and he knew so much about the tradition and the culture. He challenged us as young Latino students to really know that knowledge and arm ourselves with that knowledge; because whatever we would accomplish in life, that knowledge and history that was our heritage that would just take us to another level. He also instilled the importance of sharing that knowledge with everybody.”

I can just imagine how many other lives he impacted, because I am just one of many.”

Efforts to highlight the traditions and history of the Hispanic culture and the history and significance of the Chicano movement made him noticed.

The Federal Court in Kansas City appointed him to serve on the Desegregation Monitoring committee monitoring the Kansas City Public School District.

In 1995, The Mayor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities presented Mendoza with the Bruce Scott Award because of Mendoza’s ability and motivation to increase public awareness of the needs of the disabled in Kansas City.

In 1999, he received the Del Corazon Award, presented by AZTECA de Greater Kansas City, for promoting and preserving the Hispanic culture in the Greater Kansas City area.

Due to a long battle with diabetes, Mendoza passed away in his home in 2003.

It is through the Agapito Mendoza minority scholarship that UMKC continues his legacy.

[email protected]

Scholarship requirements:

Must be an incoming freshman

Checked Hispanic on admission application

An application is not required

Top 25 percent of high school graduating class or

ACT score of 23 or above

Maximum amount given is $500