ENCINITAS — As the Mexican American Educational Guidance Association, or MAEGA, celebrated 40 years of helping Latino students fulfill their college dreams, board members and scholarship recipients past and present honored outgoing officers Dick Wheelock and Bill Arballo during an anniversary dinner July 31 at the Encinitas Community Center.
“They are MAEGA,” said Caroline Matthews, chairwoman for the fundraising event. “They made it what it is today.”
Earlier this year the organization established scholarships in their names. “It’s one way we can honor and remember their commitment,” said Anna Vallez, this year’s board president and a past award recipient.
Marilyn Voorhies began the tribute by chronicling the lives of Wheelock and Arballo as they grew up in Arizona and San Diego, respectively. Voorhies went on to highlight their military service during the early war years, their successful careers — Wheelock as a physician and Arballo as a journalist — and their combined 70-plus years as volunteers for MAEGA.
The men each received an autographed photo of this year’s scholarship recipients and board members.
Wheelock, one of the founding members, has served as president for several years. He said the first year the group granted three $100 scholarships. At its annual reception this June 21, 73 students were awarded $68,900 in scholarships.
Sandra Morales, who will be attending the University of California Davis, received the inaugural William Arballo Scholarship. Ethel Gijon, the first recipient of the Dr. Richard Wheelock Scholarship, will be a freshman at the University of California Riverside this fall.
Jorge Arciniega, a 1975 award recipient, couldn’t attend the dinner but sent a letter stating he was surprised and happy to hear the organization still existed. “Bill and Doc receive much of the credit for its success and longevity,” wrote Arciniega, who went on to receive degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and Harvard Law School.