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Loretto Academy Challenge Program empowers young women to reach their dreams

Aliana Gandara, Jessenia Mickens and Zoey Bustillos are scholarship recipients this year for the Loretto Academy Challenge Program.
Loretto Academy Challenge Program
Aliana Gandara, Jessenia Mickens and Zoey Bustillos are scholarship recipients this year for the Loretto Academy Challenge Program.

by Special to El Paso Matters, El Paso Matters
September 20, 2023

By Adriana Chavarria and Sylvia Hernandez/Challenge Program co-directors    

Fifteen years ago, The Challenge Foundation partnered with Loretto Academy to develop the Loretto Academy Challenge Program. At the core of the Challenge Program’s mission is our unique approach to empower students through equitable access to education, experiential learning, and mentorship, inspiring Challenge Scholars to pursue their goals and chart their own course. Challenge takes a whole-student approach, awarding tuition scholarships and individualized support services to students from underserved communities.

Our comprehensive admission process takes into account strengths, need, and fit for each student and family, to determine scholarship eligibility. 

Based on the need in our community, the application process is competitive, and Challenge is committed to a thoughtful and thorough review of each applicant. Four gifted-yet-under-served fourth-grade students are selected each year to receive a full scholarship to attend Loretto Academy beginning with her sixth-grade year through high school. 

After high school graduation, Challenge provides college scholarships and ongoing support to our Scholars. Parental commitment and support are essential to the student and the program’s success.

The program’s short-term goal is for Challenge Scholars to graduate from Loretto Academy, apply to college, and obtain sufficient financial assistance.

The long-term goal is for each Challenge Program Scholar, as a college graduate, to be confident in her journey, to engage in continuous learning and growth, while fostering a community of inclusivity where she has a strong sense of belonging.

“Each scholar brings to the table her own unique gifts and talents. This is an invitation to the community at large, to join us, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves by taking an active role in leveling the playing field, and helping a young woman find her voice!” said Sylvia Hernandez, Loretto Class of ‘81.

Isabelle Labrado

“Because of my scholarship, I’ve had many new opportunities. I’ve met many new people and have tried many new things. It is a very rewarding and meaningful thing to me because not many people get the opportunity to try out for a scholarship as special as this one,” said Isabelle Labrado, Loretto class of 2026. “I am very blessed to have been able to be one of the four who got it. It has changed my life in ways I will always remember. I encourage others to try out for it because it has given me such an amazing opportunity that I will always be grateful for.”

You are invited to join the 15-year celebration of Loretto Academy Challenge Program by donating to the program during El Paso Giving Day. Mark your calendars and remember to give from Oct. 12-19. You can donate by clicking here. 

Your generous gift of support celebrates each Scholar and is appreciated beyond measure.To nominate someone for the Loretto Academy Challenge Program or learn how you can help provide support – mentorship, internship or financial – contact Challenge Program Directors Sylvia Hernandez ‘81 at or Adriana Chavarria at Either can be reached at (915) 566-8400.

This article first appeared on El Paso Matters and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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