CORPUS CHRISTI – For the first time in their 83 year history, the annual Buc Days celebration had to be postponed from April 30 through May 10, to November 19 through 29 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The move in dates also affected the king and queen competition with each one of the finalists receiving a scholarship they could use for college in the fall.
As with every other meeting taking place these days, the Buc Days Scholarship Committee decided to hold the crowing via the meeting app Zoom which looked like the Brady Bunch television show opening on steroids. More than 25 small boxes filled the screen as the winners were named on May 2.
Commissioner and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee Alex Garcia, who’s also coming up on his 25th year as commissioner, said, “I have always been on the scholarship committee from the beginning. You’re doing something great for the kids, and you see the evolution and what that difference makes in their lives. It’s just huge.”
The Buc Days Scholarship Program gives away $60,000 in scholarships every year and matches those funds 100% if students attend local colleges like Texas A&M Corpus Christi or Del Mar College.
The committee chooses 10 young men and 10 young women who are seniors in high school to compete for the king and queen title, but everyone receives a scholarship.
“It’s about leadership and condition training to the students,” Garcia continued. “More than 100 students apply, and they make a couple presentations and then get interviewed and then through that process 20 get selected.”
Garcia recalled a story about a former scholarship winner from a few years ago who had always wanted to go to college for business but wasn’t accepted when she applied and was heartbroken.
She said that the training she received through the Buc Days Leadership Program and meeting other county officials and stand out members of the community, she felt comfortable challenging the college board’s decision.
“She said she felt she could go ahead and challenge anything and went to make a presentation in person to the board,” Garcia said. “She later informed us that the college had a change of heart after the meeting, and she got accepted into the place she had wanted to be her whole life.
“It’s just so extremely rewarding.”
Garcia said that the Sunday after the virtual crowning, he donned his pirate costume (he’s the mascot after all) and some of the other commissioners had a parade through the streets to deliver the king his sword and scholarship check and the queen her crown, sash and roses.
Garcia told another story about a past queen that had gone on to college but couldn’t maintain her GPA and lost her scholarship and had to leave school.
“And I’ll never forget that, we were all kind of devastated,” he said. “Years later, we get told that she’s going to make a presentation and that she wants to speak to the commissioners at our banquet. She gets up there and tells everybody she had lost the scholarship but now she had found the love of her life and had a couple of kids.
“And she went back to school and graduated.
“She went on to thank the committee and said, ‘You all gave me the ability to have enough faith in myself and self esteem to know that I could go back and succeed. If it hadn’t been for that I would’ve never made it.’
“So I do this because I have a passion for it, and I have seen the difference that it has made in these kids’ lives. We’ve been very blessed.”