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February 11, 2011

Young ULM alum helps pay it forward for foreign language students

Bray Harris, 22, a University of Louisiana at Monroe alumnus (B.A. '09) is looking to "pay it forward" to up-and-coming undergraduates with an interest in foreign languages.

This week, Harris became one of the youngest alumni to form a scholarship fund aimed at deserving and hard-working students with a desire to become more proficient in Spanish, just as Harris was offered similar help during his time at ULM.

"I wanted to do something to help those who helped me," he said. "I wanted to pay it forward."

Harris said in a global society, the study of foreign languages is more important than ever.

The La Ruta de Itzimna Scholarship for Spanish was the result of the ULM's Department of Foreign Languages foreign study abroad program.

The program goes to Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica or Spain every summer.

The Route of Itzimná was the bus route that Harris took to school every day.

Harris was so fascinated with his experience that he later studied independently in Merida, Yucatan, for six months after graduating ULM.

Harris worked as a pharmacy tech at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe as an undergraduate, and still maintains contact with his "second family" there.

He serves in the Louisiana Army National Guard and will soon deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I worked all the way through college, and I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing," said Harris.

"In order to understand the value of studying at a university, one must have the drive to realize one's goals. By working, students show they have motivation to achieve."

"Bray was one of our outstanding graduates," said Professor and Head of Foreign Languages Ruth Smith.

"He's going to do well in whatever endeavor he chooses."

The $500 scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis. Contributions may be added to the fund at any time.

To qualify for the scholarship, a student must meet the following:

• The recipient(s) must be a full-time student enrolled in at least 15 undergraduate hours and pursuing their first undergraduate degree in Spanish.

• A university student must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA in college courses, with no grade lower than a C in any Spanish course.

• Recipient(s) must have completed Spanish 2005, and must not have dropped a course in Spanish except for extenuating circumstances

• Scholarship is renewable if a 3.0 GPA is maintained. The scholarship may be renewed up to a maximum of seven semesters for an incoming freshman only. All other classifications may receive the scholarship for the remaining semesters required to complete a four year degree.

• Recipient(s) must be employed at least 15 hours a week, and must submit a letter of recommendation from employer.

• Recipient(s) must be a member of Sigma Delta Pi and be willing to help in ULM's festival for local high schools.

For more information on contributions or applications to this scholarship, contact Ruth Smith at 318-342-1526.

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