East Austin College Prep graduate, Eli Hernandez, was awarded the Rodolfo Mendez Performing/Visual Arts Scholarship from the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. The $1,000 scholarship was awarded to Eli based on his talent and achievements within the dance community. This scholarship and 14 others were awarded to East Austin youth by LULAC Council #22325, in partnership with Southwest Key Programs and El Concilio Mexican-American Land Owners de East Austin.
Eli graduated from East Austin College Prep in 2019 and now attends Stephen F. Austin University, where he is majoring dance and minoring in Spanish. While in high school, as part of East Austin Prep’s drill team, Eli performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2017. He was named Tigerette MVP and Dancer of the Year while at East Austin Prep, and was also a three-time Texas Dance Educators’ Association All-State Dancer.
Eli’s award was named in honor of the late Rodolfo Mendez, an icon in the dance community of East Austin. Mendez was the founder of Ballet East Dance Theatre and was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in recognition of nearly four decades of work in the Austin arts community. Mendez was also a personal mentor to Hernandez, making Eli a fitting recipient of this year’s Performing/Visual Arts award.
The Rodolfo Mendez Performing/Visual Arts Scholarship is one of three unique scholarships awarded by LULAC Council #22325. All three are named in memory of influential figures of the East Austin community.
“We wanted to recognize members of the community, people that grew up in East Austin that unfortunately are no longer with us,” said Gavino Fernandez, Jr, president of El Concilio. “We wanted to honor them and their contributions to the community through scholarships in their names.”
In partnership with the LULAC National Education Service Centers, LULAC #22325 has awarded scholarships to area youth for the past three years. In addition to scholarships for high school graduates, the local chapter of LULAC provides financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to students throughout their tenures in college.