WT Students Earn Surprise Scholarships from Education Credit Union Foundation

Chip Chandler Nov 17, 2023
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WT Students Earn Surprise Scholarships from Education Credit Union Foundation

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — Dozens of West Texas A&M University students earned scholarships Nov. 14 in a surprise presentation from Education Credit Union Foundation.

In a ceremony honoring 110 graduates of WT’s Money Management Bootcamp, 44 students were presented $250 scholarships. Ten of those were awarded by WT, and 34 were awarded by the ECU Foundation.

The bootcamp is a six-week, noncredit course hosted by the Education Credit Union Buff $mart program.

The 44 scholarship-eligible participants were recognized at a Nov. 14 graduation reception in the Fairly Group Club at Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Marcus Smith, the credit union’s CEO and chairman of the board for its foundation, announced that ECU Foundation would fund the scholarships.

ECU became a naming sponsor of WT’s Buff $mart Program in September 2020. The program helps students improve their understanding of financial literacy and empowers them to make informed choices to improve their financial well-being.

“Financial literacy is so important for college students, and we are proud to support this bootcamp for area students,” said Matt Morgan, executive director of the ECU Foundation. “It is a great feeling to provide scholarships for these students who went above and beyond the basic requirements of the course. They are all deserving of the little bit of extra help in their college journeys.”

In all, ECU and WT jointly provided almost $11,000 in scholarship funds for the students, who represent each of WT’s six Colleges.

The bootcamp covered topics on paying for college, building credit responsibly, overcoming financial obstacles, budgeting and saving.

To be eligible to be in the drawing for a scholarship, students received points for attendance, participation, completing assignments, and attending a one-on-one coaching session.

“The continued support from both Education Credit Union and the ECU Foundation has been a key component in the growth of the Buff $mart Program. They want to see students succeed just as much as the faculty and staff do at WT.” said program coordinator Meghan Williams.

The ECU Buff $mart program offers one-on-one coaching sessions with trained peer financial coaches via webinar or in person; classroom and organizational presentations on money management, budgeting, planning to pay for college and more; and outreach programs and money management workshops on credit cards, credit scores, identity theft, budgeting and more.

Scholarship recipients include Bayleigh Baker, a freshman agriculture major from Buffalo; Miriam Camargo, a junior biology major from Amarillo; Brenda Cano, a junior criminal justice major from Amarillo; Nicholas Carroll, a senior animal science major from Lubbock; Chloe Carroll, a sophomore nursing major from Childress; Cole Chitwood, a sophomore accounting major from Amarillo; Madison Cross, a freshman agricultural business and economics major from Holland; Ailed De La Cruz, a freshman communication disorders major from Bovina; Rachael Draper, a senior digital communication and media major from Abilene; Bailey Erickson, a freshman animal science major from Atwood, Colorado; Kadence Fangman, a sophomore agriculture major from Trent; Emily Field, a senior biology major from Whitesboro; Diego Flores, a freshman engineering major from San Antonio; George Fritz, a sophomore animal science major from Joppa, Maryland; Heidi Giesbrecht, a sophomore marketing major from Seminole; Brier Griffis, a sophomore animal science major from Lubbock; Ricardo Guajardo, a freshman nursing major from Canyon; Alexis Howes, a freshman general studies major from Wichita Falls; Lilyenne Hyland, a freshman animal science major from Alamogordo, New Mexico; Kaiden Jones, a senior engineering major from Logan, New Mexico; Rachel Kalvelage, a sophomore animal science major from Spring Creek, Nevada; Kyleigh King, a junior agricultural business and economics major from Clovis, New Mexico; Katelyn Lechwar, a freshman sports and exercise sciences major from Canyon; Myleigh Lindsey, a freshman equine industry and business major from Vinita, Oklahoma; Sanai Lowe, a senior musical theatre major from McKinney; Karyme Martinez, a freshman biology major from Seminole; Sania Martinez, a  freshman nursing major from Bovina; Madison Mason, a senior animal science major from Roswell, New Mexico; Geraldine Medina, a junior biology major from Fritch; Kylie Menasco, a freshman nursing major from Midland; Allyson Neal, a freshman animal science major from Pueblo, Colorado; Dolce Perez, a freshman graphic design major from Hereford; Sophia Rivera, a  freshman wildlife biology major from El Paso; Sara Salas, a freshman agriculture media and communication major from Miami, New Mexico; Caden Smith, a junior engineering major from Celina; Ridley Strackbein, a freshman animal science major from Fredericksburg; Ellie Swain, a freshman animal science major from Robinson; Elna Thinakone, a junior management major from Canyon; Elizabeth Totter, a freshman nursing major from Denton; Tory Trahern, a junior general business major from Sunray; Sage Waggoner, a sophomore animal science major from Ashland, Kansas; Elizabeth Watkins, a sophomore nursing major from Cortez, Colorado; and Abigail Watson, a junior plant, soil and environmental science major from Fritch.         

Creating a commitment to being self-reliant, courageous, resourceful and part of something larger than one’s self in its students is a key mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


Photo: Marcus Smith, Education Credit Union’s CEO and chairman of the board for its foundation, addresses the 2023 graduates of the Buff $mart Money Management Bootcamp on Nov. 14.