Lone Star College-CyFair graduate and future civil lawyer Rey Laurencio always believed in himself and is now one of 75 students chosen nationwide as a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which covers educational expenses up to $40,000 a year.
“I was optimistic, had a positive outlook, put in the work and dedication and believed,” said Laurencio, who is grateful for the scholarship, but more moved to know how proud his dad is about such awards earned through his educational achievements. “Enthusiastic to succeed, despite being an immigrant, bilingual and financially disadvantaged, I refuse to quit.”
Laurencio said he grew up as a native Spanish speaker, struggling to adopt the English language, when his family won a visa lottery and emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 2000. During his high school years, he was more focused on sports - swimming, water polo and track and field – than academics. However, those four years did teach him discipline, responsibility and commitment.
In the summer of 2014 at LSC-CyFair, after earning all “A”s in four accelerated classes, he found confidence and a drive to succeed. He not only became a better student academically as an Honors College student and member of Phi Theta Kappa, but he reached his goal of getting involved and becoming a leader, holding officer positions in the Business Savvy Club, Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa.
In addition to leadership skills, he said participation in those various organizations taught him about professionalism, civic engagement, empowerment of students’ voices, rigorous academic research, public speaking, critical thinking and more.
“These organizations made me a better person and helped me see a world perspective because I was surrounded by non-traditional and international students,” he said. “They were a diverse age population, who had struggled immensely, too, which helped me appreciate my own situation.”
Laurencio learned about setting goals and working hard to achieve them from his parents, and in particular, his father, who led by example achieving his goal of owning a trucking company. He also found support, advice, guidance and genuine caring from his second family at LSC-CyFair, especially Phi Theta Kappa members and the chapter’s co-advisors Dr. Blake Ellis and Dean Daniel Villanueva, who he considers his mentors and friends.
“Rey’s passion for research and dedication to scholarship are impressive, as is his commitment to our chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. He has been a leader on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Ellis, who teaches history. “On a personal level, I want to acknowledge that he is compassionate, kind and truly desires to make a difference in the world. I am so proud of him!”
Villanueva also commends Laurencio on his two years of success at LSC-CyFair.
“Rey has not only excelled within academics, but has also developed into a passionate student leader. He has a tremendous work ethic and this award will help him complete his education at the University of Texas,” said Dean Villanueva. “Rey will be added to the growing list of alumni from Lone Star College who represent the community college extremely well.”
Laurencio, who graduated LSC-CyFair with Highest Honors in Research, will continue his education at UT-Austin with plans to ultimately become a lawyer.
“Law will offer me a platform through which I can defy and embrace my adversity. Moreover, I would like to utilize the power of law and my talent as a bilingual citizen to serve the underrepresented Hispanic community,” Laurencio said. “I hope to one day be able to eliminate the Spanish language barrier of so many Hispanic families by providing beneficial legal advice. In the future, I would also like to establish a community college mentorship program for minorities.”
Laurencio’s advice is to never limit yourself, to surround yourself with the right people who genuinely care, to put in the work and always believe.
For information on LSC-CyFair programs, Honors College, registration and more, go to LoneStar.edu/cyfair.