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Feature Stories

Angels Amongst Us

Dr. Louis Agnese (center) is pictured with Tino & Amelia Duran along with students who were scholarship recipients

Once in a lifetime a person is touched by the incessant drive that thrives in the work of an individual so capable of success, but unfairly tossed around by society’s so-called predestination. Often we find it in our hearts to help find a solution for such an individual, but seldom can we create one.

Fortunately, there are individuals who spend their life creating solutions, and in doing so, help others to share in the same success that they enjoy. They then become the miracle that those individuals in need were praying for, acting as Guardian Angels set on Earth to bring compassion and offer relief to those in need.

Two such kindhearted individuals are Florentino “Tino” Duran and his wife, Amelia, the publishers of San Antonio’s La Prensa, the only bilingual newspaper in the city. For the past six years, these Guardian Angels have graciously contributed with generous scholarships to students at the University of the Incarnate Word.

“It’s a dream come true for us to be able to help so many students through the La Prensa Foundation,” said Mr. Duran, adding that he and his wife have dreamt of heading up such an effort for years.

The Durans established the scholarships as a result of a life-changing experience that occurred to their daughter, Nina, while she was a student at Incarnate Word High School. It was there that she first tapped her intellectual gifts, a change that gave Nina the impetus to pursue her college studies at UIW.

“She was so sheltered that when I saw her transformation, I thought if IWHS has done this to her, imagine how much more she would be able to get from an education at UIW,” said Mrs. Duran.

The scholarship contributions began with checks for individual students who would ask the Durans for help. They eventually decided to make a foundation that would secure the existence of scholarship funds for students every year.

Mrs. Duran praises the university’s efforts at providing an equal education for all members of the community regardless of gender, age, disabilities, race or ethnicity. Mrs. Duran believes that such efforts are what sets UIW apart from other universities. She also believes that one of the greatest lifetime investments an individual can make is to invest in a child’s education at a Catholic university.

Because of all of the above reasons, the Durans feel it is important to help students achieve their dreams of attending a private institution, ensuring that they make the most of their educational experience.

But unlike major corporations that sometimes award money to students and then forget their names in the back of filing cabinets, the Durans welcome the students into their family. They continue to support and encourage students and are witnesses to the great potential that they helped unleash. That help has even extended to helping alumni with employment at La Prensa.

“Even before the foundation began,” said Mrs. Duran, “we were donating money to kids who needed it, because I felt a need in my heart saying, ‘help, help.’”

In appreciation for all they have selflessly offered the university, we salute the Durans for their efforts in advancing education.