Fall 2019

Arizona Assurance: Making the College Dream a Reality

Carlos Chavez and Cisco Aguilar ’00 ’04

We brought Carlos Chavez and Cisco Aguilar together to talk about the Arizona Assurance Scholars Program and the University of Arizona.

It was the first time they had met, and it was magical. Chavez made a connection with a new role model, and Aguilar was reminded why he volunteers for a nonprofit that expands access to education.

"I didn't come here today thinking I would have the experience I've had," Aguilar says.


Carlos Chavez is a sophomore studying pre-business and social justice. He’s unsure where his career will take him, but knows he wants to help people.

“I want to work every day to make a change in society,” he says.

Cisco Aguilar and Carlos Chavez

Chavez is an Arizona Assurance scholar. The comprehensive support program provides significant financial aid, together with resources such as faculty and peer mentoring, to in-state students who have the ability to succeed at the University of Arizona but lack the funds. More than 6,000 students have enrolled as Arizona Assurance scholars since the program began in 2008.

Chavez doesn’t have family support and has dealt with not having a place to live. In high school, he worked and sought assistance from the Tucson organization Youth on Their Own. 

“Arizona Assurance makes it possible for students like me to go to college. It was the most famous scholarship at my high school. Everyone was applying for it,” Chavez says.

Arizona Assurance covers almost all his tuition and paid for his first year of on-campus housing. He was recently hired as a resident assistant, a position that provides housing.

Cisco Aguilar is a graduate of the UA’s Eller College of Management and James E. Rogers College of Law. He serves as general counsel at Crest Insurance Group in Las Vegas and has been a board member for the Marshall Foundation since 2001.

The Marshall Foundation has a history of supporting the Arizona Assurance Scholars Program and recently made a $500,000 gift commitment. 

“It’s an incredible avenue to help students who need it the most,” says Aguilar. “It’s easy for us as a foundation to see the value in that.”

As they discussed Chavez’s journey to discover his purpose and develop his knowledge at the UA, Aguilar asked Chavez what he would tell a high school student considering the same path.

“I would tell them it’s hard. I’ll never lie. But at the end of the race, you will see yourself as a winner,” Chavez says.

For Chavez, meeting Aguilar was inspiring.

“Knowing someone like you, it always brings more light into my life. It always brings more ‘you can do it’ into my life. Because one day I want to be like you,” he says.