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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | January 2007 

Dreams Do Come True
email this pageprint this pageemail usPolly G. Vicars - PVNN

Dr. María and Bernice Starr, her mentor
Friday, March 9, 2007's Becas Ball will mark the 45th Anniversary of the America-Mexico Foundation (Becas Vallarta.) Those 45 years have produced incredible, fantastic and yes, world changing events for thousands of bright, ambitious Puerto Vallarta youth of little economic means, but great dreams. How? By giving them just that little extra help, in the form of scholarships and moral support, that enabled them to reach their educational goals.

In trying to write something to encourage the community to support this effort by coming to the Becas Ball and becoming sustaining financial supporters, I thought I would start by introducing you to one of the earlier Becadas, Luz María, who had her dreams come true because of this foundation and its founder, Bernice Starr. This is a chapter from my 1995 book, "Tales of Retirement in Paradise."


Luz María Rodriguez, a young girl from a pueblo just north of Puerto Vallarta, had a dream. Even though she was just a girl, and even though she was from a large family with very limited economic resources, and even though her father thought formal education was for his sons, but not his daughters, she dreamed of becoming a doctor.

A Doctor! What a dream for such a poor little Mexican girl! But dreams do come true and there are fairy godmothers! Amigas told her about the generous gringa, Bernice Starr, and her AMF that helped students with good grades, high ambitions, and little money to pay for their schooling.

Luz María qualified in all aspects. She approached Bernice, and there was an immediate affinity. She was awarded a scholarship for junior high, then senior high, and then university. With the Foundation scholarship and her own hard work, she realized her dream - she became a Doctor of General Medicine.

The relationship between Luz María and Bernice flourished. Bernice, the fairy godmother, evolved into Bernice, Mother-Father-Advisor-Friend! Luz María was not content; she still had much to learn! She continued her studies and earned the title of Doctor of Internal Medicine.

She was then earning her own money and came to Bernice and the Foundation only for encouragement and moral support. Still the dream urged her on. She applied for and was awarded an exchange scholarship at the University Hospital of Liege, Belgium.

There she studied and worked for several years, distinguishing herself, her sex, her country, and her sponsor, the America-México Foundation. She then transferred to the prestigious Academic Hospital in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Her mentor-mother Bernice, who incidentally in "her other life" had been a school teacher, traveled to Maastricht and huddled with Luz María over her heart research papers. After both determined that every "i" was dotted and every "t" crossed, Luz María presented her research to cardiac physicians and researchers in Europe, Canada and the United States.

These research papers, corrected for proper English by Bernice, became the basis for Luz Maria's thesis. The thesis was accepted, and on April 29, 1994, with Bernice proudly in attendance, Luz María Rodriguez, received her Doctor of Cardiology!

Doctor of General Medicine, Doctor of Internal Medicine, and now Doctor of Cardiology - all degrees earned by a little Mexican girl who had a dream that wouldn't die! I'm sure you now see why we work so tirelessly to raise funds for the education of Vallartense boys and girls who have big dreams and little money.

Sadly, Bernice Starr is no longer with us. Happily Dr. Luz María continues to amaze the world with her brilliance as a doctor in The Netherlands. She is an internationally renowned and sought after speaker at medical conferences and is an inspiration to all her know her.

Want to help another little girl or boy reaches her or his dreams? Join in the 45th Anniversary Celebration Becas Ball. For tickets and information call me at 223-1371. You can also contact Mary Ellis at 223-0155 Ext. 714 or Buri Gray at 221-5285.
Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 55 years, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.

Click HERE for more Puerto Vallarta articles by Polly Vicars.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2008 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus