New scholarship available this spring in honor of former Major General

The University of Central Oklahoma College of Education and Professional Studies established a new scholarship last summer in honor of a former U.S. service member. The Elementary Education Endowed Scholarship is named to honor former Major General Rita Aragon who was also a student at UCO. 

Aragon’s college accomplishments include a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling.

Dr. Bryan Duke, one of the associate deans of the College of Education and Professional Studies, is thrilled to have this scholarship in their department. He said the scholarship is very important to have for students who want to go into teaching.

“Our state is in a severe and extremely critical teacher shortage,” Duke said.

“So, we’re doing everything we can to recruit and retain future teachers,” Duke said.

Aragon served numerous years in the U.S. Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force, and thanks to her 25 years of service in the education field, her name at UCO will be remembered for years to come. During her education career, she worked at the Oklahoma City Public Schools as a teacher, principal and counselor.

UCO President Don Betz, John and Shannon Hamm (far left to right) and Wayne and Margaret DeShazer (far right to left) present Darbi Haley (center) with the DeShazer and Hamm Endowed Scholarship at the annual Presidential Partners Awards Luncheon in 2017. (UCO Press Release)

Rachel Baugh, coordinator of communications and public relations, praised Aragon for giving back to the university.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Major General Aragon and for the impact that she will make in countless students’ lives,” Baugh said.

“Our college strives to ensure that our students feel valued and supported. Scholarships allow us the ability to recognize all of their hard work,” Baugh said.

Duke said the scholarship will pay out roughly $500 a year. The qualifications include admission to the education program and elementary education majors in the undergraduate or graduate level. Students under the scholarship also must plan to teach in Oklahoma once they graduate.

“$500 may not sound like this gigantic scholarship, but $500 makes a difference,” Duke said.

“It helps students pay for certification tests, background checks, or the things they have to do in order to complete the degree. We’re really one of the few programs on campus that when you graduate you leave with not only a diploma, but you also get a certification from the State of Oklahoma that allows you to enter a profession,” Duke said.

Applications for the scholarship will be available online January 2021 through the UCO Scholarship Portal. For more information on any education majors, visit the College of Education and Professional Studies website.

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