DALLAS, TX — Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), announced today the students of its annual  “Lanzate/Take Off” education travel award program.  The program, the theme of which is “Dandole Alas a Tu Exito/Giving Flight to Your Success,” started on June 5.  More than 500 students from across the nation completed the online entry with a submitted essay about why they are pursuing a college degree and how the travel award would help them achieve their goals.

The students were selected after intensive evaluation from a panel of judges comprised of college professors and professionals from throughout the country.  “The “Lanzate/Take Off” Award is reflective of Southwest’s pioneering spirit to look for new, innovative approaches that provide our families and communities the freedom to reach beyond their horizons and fulfill their fullest potential,” said Selection Committee member Jose Calderon, and Senior Vice President of the Hispanic Federation in New York.

The award will provide the students with one to four tickets, which the student or an immediate family member can use in the fall to travel to/from a college or university to any of the 66 cities Southwest Airlines serves.

“Each year we receive many entries for this program,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio Flores.   “There are so many include compelling essays that point to the importance of maintaining family connections.  The ‘Dandole Alas a Tu Exito/Giving Flight to Your Success’ program is an important step in assuring that students are getting the support and encouragement they need.”

With more than 1,500 applicants in the last five years, “Lanzate/Take Off” is a proven successful educational program that serves underprivileged Hispanic students, providing free travel for them and their families to maximize their potential and create opportunities for growth.  To see the complete list of students, visit:  www.southwest.com/swamedia/hacu_winners_2009.pdf. To see the list of judges, vist: www.southwest.com/swamedia/hacu_selection_committee_2009.pdf.

“The “Lanzate/Take Off” travel award allows a student to visit the family during the holidays, or just brings the families together for special events like graduations,” said Christine Ortega, Southwest Airlines Corporate Community Affairs Manager.  “This permits the families to stay in touch, and promotes a better college experience.  As a consequence, the student will have more confidence to pursue his/her dreams of higher education without worrying about the family’s economic hardships,” says Ortega.

“For me, this program means not staying alone at the university on holidays, and going home for Thanksgiving,” said Jennifer Angarita, “Lanzate” 2009 award recipient.  “Holidays alone are tough, but this year I will have the opportunity to celebrate with my family, not only on special holidays but will have my parents sitting by me in my graduation, all because of this program.”

HACU, which has its national headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, represents approximately 450 colleges and universities, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), which collectively serve two-thirds of all Hispanic higher education students in the United States and Puerto Rico.

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