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Hernandez

Hernandez
Jay and Letty Hernandez are joined by President Jim Towey (far left), admissions counselor Mary Reed (far right) and AMU regional scholarship recipients.

Ave Maria University has always strived to make an excellent Catholic education affordable. From the very beginning, AMU Founder Tom Monaghan envisioned Catholic families from across the country being able to afford the University, and the administration has faithfully adhered to this vision by maintaining generous financial aid programs, and managing University finances in a cost-effective manner. All of this has been made possible because of the kindness and friendship of the thousands of generous donors who support AMU student scholarships. Inspired by Tom Monaghan and the early success of Ave Maria University, Jay and Letty Hernandez of Whittier, California joined the list of original donors to the campus. And now, because of the Hernandez's continued generosity, families from the Greater Whittier, California region will be sending more of their sons and daughters to Ave Maria University. The Jay and Letty Hernandez Southern California Scholarship Fund began this fall with a $1 million gift from the couple. Upon establishing the fund, Jay Hernandez said, "We had always planned to help Ave Maria in our will and we still plan to do so, but decided we wanted to help both the University and the families in our community now. We wanted to see young men and women of our community receive the beautiful Catholic education from Ave Maria University sooner rather than later, so they could go evangelize, fight for life and help those in need." Throughout their lives, Jay and Letty have been involved in the pro-life movement and have placed themselves in the service of others. Whether it was shutting down abortion clinics, or providing food and housing for those in need or helping educate children, they have shared their lives and blessings without any expectations for something in return. In fact, they only agreed to participate in this article so that it might inspire others to support students from their geographical areas. When President Towey started the CANA scholarship program (named after the wedding where Jesus performed His first miracle), he saw a need to recruit students from outside the State of Florida. In nearly every state, grants are made available to home-state students who choose private schools and thus reduce pressure on the publicly-funded state system. The amount of tuition assistance a student gives up to leave their home state could be as much as $5,000. The Hernandez's realized this could make it difficult for California students to enroll at Ave. President Towey summed up the positive impact these new scholarships have had on the University. "This fall seven students from the Greater Whittier area have enrolled as part of the largest freshman class in Ave's history thanks to Jay and Letty Hernandez. The generosity they have bestowed upon these young men and women will be transformative – not just for the students themselves but also for Ave Maria. We now have established a pipeline to bring more students from the Southern California region. Additionally, Jay and Letty's bequest intention will ensure the pipeline continues for years beyond one class. This gift provides the ultimate combination of impacting lives now and forever." The regional scholarship program the Hernandez family established has counterparts in other places in America, through other generous donors. As Ave Maria continues to grow as a national university dependent upon recruitment in all fifty states, such targeted financial assistance will be vital. "The road to a student body of 1,600 students will be built by just these kinds of scholarship programs that come to us one donor at a time," said Kevin Joyce, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. "We can't have enough of them."
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