Newly-Established Scholarship Aims to Assist Deserving Students Majoring in Education

Published: June 18, 2015

Newly-Established Scholarship Aims to Assist Deserving Students Majoring in Education

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A new scholarship has been established to assist deserving students who are majoring in education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

The Ruben and Rosie Bonilla Endowed Scholarship in Education will be given during the semester in which the student recipient is student teaching. The $50,000 endowment will yield one $2,000 scholarship or two $1,000 scholarships annually. To be eligible for the scholarships, students must demonstrate financial need, be enrolled full-time, and maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

“We are grateful for this generous gift that will assist our students who are working hard to become the teachers of tomorrow,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi President and CEO. “Ruben and Rosie Bonilla understand the value of a college degree. For many years, they have made Corpus Christi their home and have spent their lives improving our community through education.” 

Dr. Rosalinda Sosa Bonilla, wife of Ruben Bonilla, earned her doctorate in Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Years later, she worked a Student Teacher Supervisor at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“We felt it important to provide scholarship support for students aspiring to be future classroom teachers or educators,” said Ruben Bonilla. “It is a fulfillment of Rosie's dream to continue to help students maintain their enthusiasm long after her retirement.”

A long-time champion for change and community improvement, Ruben Bonilla, an attorney, grew up in Corpus Christi and has spent his career seeking equality for others, while representing the injured.

Bonilla, a graduate of The University of Texas (B.A.) and The University of Texas School of Law (J.D.), was admitted to the State Bar in 1971. He immediately worked to impact the community in his activities with such groups as LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), the American G.I. Forum, and the Texas Mexican-American Democrats. At age 33, Bonilla was the youngest National President elected in LULAC's history. He served as National President for two years from 1979-1981, and led a dramatic increase in Hispanic social, political, and economic advocacy across America.

Bonilla, knowing the importance of youth development, has served as Chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Corpus Christi, and founded the W. B. Ray Torch Foundation, which has raised funds to support academic and athletic programs at Ray High School, his alma mater. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of American Bank and President of Bonilla & Chapa, with offices in Corpus Christi, Houston, Edinburg, Beeville, and Hondo, Texas.

He has also served on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Foundation Board of Directors and was involved with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies when he was Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi from 2002-2010.

He was appointed by the Corpus Christi City Council to the Port Commission of the Port Authority of Corpus Christi in 1998 and was named the 2005 G. Russell Kirkland Distinguished Visitor in Business Administration at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  

In his role as Port Chairman, Bonilla helped lead the Port Commission in construction of the Joe Fulton International Corridor, opened agricultural exports with Cuba, established the Port as a Strategic Military Port, expanded the Port into San Patricio County with the guidance of Sen. “Chuy” Hinojosa, guided the construction of the massive cotton warehouses in San Patricio County, supported the deepening and widening of La Quinta Channel, the raising of the Harbor Bridge, and helped establish the William Dodge Security Center. It was also during Bonilla's tenure on the Port Commission that the Port agreed to sell land to the City of Corpus Christi to help build Whataburger Field, the home of the Corpus Christi Hooks baseball team, and the Solomon Ortiz Conference Center, which was built to initiate the total redevelopment of the harbor waterfront.

Bonilla’s primary areas of practice include auto accidents, personal injury, family law, and wrongful death. He is a current member of the Corpus Christi Bar Association, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation (Texas Bar Association).

The Bonillas are proud parents of four children who have established their own successful professional careers. Ruben Bonilla reminds students that there are no boundaries to excellence.

“Students today are determined, self-confident, and technologically savvy,” he said. “They arrive at the University better prepared, and equipped to handle the challenges of higher education. The only advice I can offer any student is what my dear father imparted to me, ‘You cannot reach your potential without an education. Work hard, be ethical, maintain your faith, never give up, and success will follow you all your life.’”