Mr. and Miss Fiesta share personal milestones, raise funds for future students
Biology senior Christian Santillan and mechanical engineering technology junior Demi Gratil were crowned Mr. and Miss Fiesta Thursday at the start of Frontier Fiesta after they both raised the most amount of money for future scholarship recipients.
The fundraising competition began on February 1 and ran through March 23. Altogether the seven finalists raised over $6,000 for scholarships for UH students.
Santillan said the crowning resonated personally for him because he was a recipient of UH scholarships upon graduating high school. Santillan knows first hand how much a scholarship can make a difference in someone’s life, so he wanted to contribute his part this year and give back.
“Because of this position, I was able to complete that goal in my life way sooner than I expected,” Santillan said.
Gratil represented her sorority Phi Sigma Rho, an engineering and technology organization, at the crowning.
“We wanted to contribute to our school community by being able to raise funds for scholarships and also add value to their education,” Gratil said.
Both finalists set a fundraising goal of $3,000.
“Once I got into the competition, realistically if I raised somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000, I would be happy,” Gratil said. “I made it a little bit under, but it’s still great to be able to raise as much as I did.”
Santillan said he thinks he and Gratil were successful because they were raising funds that would be returned to their community.
“A lot of people were very ecstatic to be a part of it and to be able to say they gave back to not just a random scholarship fund, but a scholarship fund that would help the University within their local community,” Santillan said.
Gratil said she gave donors updates on her fundraising goal and shared the history of Frontier Fiesta’s in an effort to raise the most funds.
“The more background information they got, the more they wanted to donate,” Gratil said.
Both said they utilized social media and reached out to family members, family friends, their Greek organizations and just using word-of-mouth.
On Saturday, Gratil and Santillan got to meet the recipients of the scholarships they were responsible for funding.
“It was (a) really awesome feeling, and it kind of completed the circle for us,” Gratil said. “Their families came also, so it was really great to meet them.”
Santillan said it was exciting to see the recipients and says the Frontier Fiesta scholarship is based on leadership and is a tradition that should continue for years to come.
“What they encouraged with the Frontier Fiesta scholarship is the recipients of these scholarships will be the leaders of our University,” Santillan said. “It was really exciting to see future SGA members, future Frontier Fiesta committee members, future Student Programming Board members. It gets you wondering, ‘What are you going to do for our university? You have so much potential. We can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.’”
To donate toward future UH scholarships, visit giving.uh.edu/frontierfiesta/.