Dining out to keep students in school

Francia Benson


Dining for Dollars is an event held annually for the Oportunidad Scholarship Fund at Sonora Grill that will provide financial aid to several students throughout their college career and was held again on Feb. 5.

Oportunidad Scholarship Fund was created by Steve Ballard, owner of Sonora Grill, Weber State University and other private donors. It aims to support first-generation college student who may not have other financial aid and are not eligible for FASFA. The scholarship also does not require that the students or their parents be U.S. Citizens.

Ballard explained that through the years, he has worked with Hispanic people and witnessed how the children would have to stop their education once they graduated from high school due to their citizenship status.

Ballard said it is not possible to have such a large Hispanic population in Ogden, around 32.5%, and not provide them an education. He said these children grew up in the school system, but because they or their parents aren’t U.S. citizens, they don’t have access to student loans or grants.

A semester for a full-time student at WSU is about $5,000, not including food, gas, rent and other expenses, making it almost impossible for undocumented students to attend college.

He recalled one day thinking that as a business owner, he could do something about it. He felt inspired to help these young adults to get into college to become lawyers, teachers, doctors and business owners.

“There is a need and something must be done,” he said.

Ballard said that by providing education to undocumented youth, we all grow as a community.

“By meeting their educational and career goals, we will have a better society, so everybody wins,” he said. “They will give back to the community.”

Ballard said the recipients of the scholarship are very educated, bright and smart with a high GPA. He also said that college is hard for everyone, but it is harder for undocumented students.

“Thanks to our partnership and generous donation from the Sonora Grill owner, our students have benefited by receiving scholarships that get them much closer to achieving their higher education aspiration,” Enrique Romo, Assistant Vice President for Students Affairs said.

Romo said that not having to worry as much about how to pay for college has students concentrate on their academics.

Linda Steward, a resident of Ogden City, said she felt glad she would be helping the cause by eating at Sonora Grill.

“We all have the right to get an education,” she said.

The scholarship menu offered a choice of entrée, chips and salsa for $14. Everything made on Feb. 5 day will go to the Oportunidad Scholarship Fund, and a private donor will match the amount.