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A Cinderella Story

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    Saul Bueno (Photo by Carlos Barron)

Student from Chihuahua, Mexico, will be graduating from Southwestern this spring

Saul Bueno always hoped to achieve a college education, and now, after a surprise scholarship and a lot of hard work, he is on schedule to complete his lifelong dream.  

Bueno grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, about 150 miles south of Juarez. He began living with his aunt in El Paso, Texas, when he was 15 in order to get a better education. There, he attended Lydia Patterson Institute, a small, private Methodist high school, for four years.

He spent his first summer in El Paso taking ESL classes. He says that these were some of the hardest weeks of his life. He had never left his home before and was having difficulty in his classes.

“At that time, I thought that if I had stayed in Chihuahua I would have been able to take my regular classes and be with my friends,” he said. “Then, I remember my dad saying that if I start something I have to finish it. That pushed me through. I also realized that learning another language was worth my time.”

After a full year of English lessons, Bueno completed his ESL courses and entered high school as a sophomore.

As a junior, he expressed interested in finding scholarships for college to Socorro de Anda, the president of Lydia Patterson Institute. She typically looked for scholarships for her college-bound students. She asked Bueno where he would like to go. He replied, “Send me wherever you want me to go. I just want the chance.”

De Anda encouraged Bueno to apply to five schools, one of which was Southwestern. When she informed him a few days before graduation that he was going to Southwestern, he was surprised. He had never even visited the campus, but was very excited and says his only reply was, “Let’s do this.”

De Anda also helped Bueno obtain the Wilson scholarship, which was created by the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church to honor Bishop Joe Wilson and his wife, Zoe, when Wilson retired from being bishop of the conference in 2000. Wilson, who attended Southwestern and has served as Bishop-in Residence at the university since his retirement, said he wanted the scholarship designated for a student from the Lydia Patterson Institute to attend Southwestern. Wilson served on the board of the Lydia Patterson Institute for 12 years.

Bueno, who was salutatorian of his class at the Lydia Patterson Institute, was the first student from the institute to receive the Wilson scholarship. “We were waiting for the right student to come along − one we felt would really be worth it,” De Anda said. “Saul is an exceptional young man I never had any doubts that he would excel.” 

Bueno said he was “shocked” to receive the scholarship. “I felt very honored at the time, but even more after taking classes at Southwestern and realizing how challenging the education is,” he said.

The First United Methodist Church of Georgetown has provided the money to cover Bueno’s room, board and books while he is at Southwestern. The money was collected at special offerings at Easter and Christmas.

Bueno said his family is very proud and supportive of him. He says his parents didn’t push him because they knew that he would push himself. He remembers his father telling him, “You’ve been given this opportunity, so take advantage of it. Work as hard as you can. When things get tough, just do your best.”

During his time at Southwestern, he has worked in the Language Learning Center and as a Spanish tutor. He has also been active in intramurals, Latinos Unidos and Rotaract. However, most of his time was spent trying to maintain good grades in his computer science classes.

Bueno hopes to complete a double major in computer science and Spanish. After graduating in May, he would like to stay in the United States if possible and attend graduate school eventually. Wilson said he is helping him look for a two-year sponsor toward citizenship.

- Mikaela Santini ‘10