DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2012) – The Mexican government has awarded $6,000 to Daytona State College to provide scholarships and financial assistance to low-income Mexican-American and international students from Mexico  enrolled in its college-credit and adult-education programs. This is the second year that Daytona State received an IME grant. A check-presentation ceremony was held at the Mexican Consulate in Orlando this morning.

Provided by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME), the scholarship grant will help up to 50 students at Daytona State in Adult Education ABE/GED® Preparatory and ESOL programs pay for classes and expenses such as testing fees, educational supplies and textbooks. In addition, the program will assist up to three students enrolled in college-level credit courses.

Recent legislative changes that require the college to charge fees for historically free adult education programs have made last year's and this year's awards especially meaningful for a student population that can least afford the fees. This year the IME split its Florida award among three colleges and three non-profit organizations: Daytona State, Seminole State, Valencia College, Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, Three Rivers Regional Library System and Putnam County Migrant Program.

Daytona State student Lilia Vargas, 22, representing the 111 students who benefited from the 2011-12 scholarships at Daytona State, attended the ceremony. "The scholarship helped me to continue in the Education program, to help pay for my classes and my books – the IME gave me great financial assistance,” said Vargas, who lives with her family in Pierson, Fla. “When I finish my degree I hope to find a teaching job locally, to be able to give my assistance back to the community and the children, especially the bilingual children.” With an expected graduation date of May 2013, she will receive her BS in Education, the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Daytona State instructor Miguel Garcia, coordinator Kathryn Clark and administrators Katrina Bell and Kristy Presswood also attended the ceremony along with Dixie Blake, president of Sister Cities of Volusia County.

The Sister Cities Association of Volusia County is contributing $1,000 for the Daytona State College Foundation to supplement the initiative. Sister Cities is a non-profit organization which promotes international exchanges between cities and people. The organization is twinned with Campeche, Mexico, and Bayonne, France, to establish mutually beneficial cultural, educational and business opportunities.

Established in 2005, the IME BECAS Program is designed to raise the education levels of the Mexican and Mexican-American communities in the United States. Grants are provided to educational institutions and non-profit social organizations across the U.S. to train Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans interested in continuing their education and jobs skills development. The program’s goal is to help Mexican communities living abroad to better assimilate by opening doors of economic opportunity through education and workforce training.

Daytona State serves more than 3,500 Hispanic students each year, including those of Mexican descent which make up the vast majority enrolled in the college’s School of Adult Education. All U.S. citizens of Mexican descent and international students from Mexico are eligible for the IME scholarship.