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Scholarship recipients excited to be teachers

Friday morning a crowd of about 50 people gathered in the library at the University of Texas Permian Basin to watch two of the university’s students sign scholarships that will make them future ECISD teachers. Lorena Sotelo and Samir Chivira are the first two recipients of the repurposed Education Foundation of Odessa Scholarship program.


In September, the Education Foundation changed the focus of its scholarships at UTPB and Odessa College to concentrate on helping address Odessa’s teacher shortage. The scholarships are now designated for ECISD graduates who are pursuing teaching degrees, in exchange for a two-year commitment to teach in the school district. If accepted into the program the student receives a scholarship for all tuition, fees, books and meal plans for their entire career at UTPB. The students sign a commitment to volunteer 80 hours in ECISD classrooms while in college and then work for ECISD for two years after completing their degree.


“We hope to attract and retain ECISD graduates and have them stay right here in community,” said Education Foundation Director Celeste Potter. “These ladies are the future of ECISD and the future of our community.”


The first scholarship recipients are Lorena Sotelo, a 2001 graduate of Odessa High School who wants to teach elementary Bilingual classes, and Samir Chivira, Permian High School Class of 2017. She is majoring in math and wants to teach high school. Both said they are very excited to be teachers and the scholarship is a huge boost.


UTPB President Dr. Sandra Woodley said the university is excited to be part of this effort. She pointed out part of UTPB’s strategic plan is to double the number of teachers in this area. “We want to support and grow our own, people who already love the Permian Basin and provide them the support they need to be successful.”


“I have lived here almost my whole life, I went to school here, all my teachers that I ever had were awesome,” said Lorena. “My kids are students here so I want to be involved. I’m excited to be here. I love Odessa.”


Each year the Education Foundation gives $50,000 each to UTPB and OC, which is then matched by the school at a 2-to-1 ratio meaning $150,000 is available at each college, specifically for ECISD graduates who want to be teachers. The application process opens again in March. UTPB students and high school seniors set to graduate from ECISD schools this spring are eligible to apply.


Scholarship recipients shake hands with HR director  

Pictured: Scholarship recipients Lorena Sotelo, seated on the left, and Samira Chivira, seated on the right, meet ECISD Human Resources Director Staci Ashley after signing their teaching scholarships.