‘Harvey Help’ Scholarship Gives Islanders New Hope After Devastation

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – More than 8,800 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students were directly affected by Hurricane Harvey when it collided with the Texas coast on Aug. 17, 2017. While many Islanders escaped major catastrophe, others found themselves directly in the path of destruction leading to devastating loss of home, job, and financial stability. Even with the immediate assistance provided by University staff, including individualized care and emergency scholarships, more than 100 students withdrew from the University – many of whom never returned.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund and Qatar Harvey Fund, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has awarded $131,250 in scholarships to students impacted by Harvey. For the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters, 70 students each received between $250 and $5,000 – based on level of need.

Due to Harvey, Travis Melby lost his family home in Friendswood, located south of Houston. The structure was so water damaged that it had to be torn down completely. Melby, who partially relied on his father for tuition assistance, wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue his education. However, thanks to the Harvey Help scholarship, Melby stayed in school and is slated to graduate next year.

“This money was literally the difference between coming to school or not,” Melby, a senior studying mechanical engineering. “Getting a degree has always been a dream of mine. I feel privileged and blessed to have the opportunity to come back.”

Linda Garza, senior studying business administration, also suffered greatly due to Harvey. Garza was living in Ingleside when the storm struck. She and her two daughters evacuated, and when they returned, their apartment building was shut down and Garza’s place of work was destroyed.

“This scholarship helped so much. It helped me pay bills. It let me buy my books without feeling like I was on my last penny,” Garza, who is also a single mother. “I’m so appreciative of everyone at the University who was kind to me during this process.”

Members of the Division of Student Engagement and Success (SEAS) at A&M-Corpus Christi led the charge on getting word out to students about the scholarship, as well as personally interviewing each eligible candidate. Lead by the SEAS Crisis Assistance Team, the awarding of the grants was a cross-campus collaboration involving staff from the Dean of Student’s office, the Counseling Center, Financial Aid, University Registrar, Information Technology, Admissions, and Marketing & Communication.

“Although it has been over two years, there are Islander students who still continue to rebuild from the storm yet are pushing forward in their education despite their hardships,” said Donald Albrecht, SEAS Vice President. “Our hope is that this scholarship assists these students to get closer to graduation and helps put the impact of Harvey behind them.”