I had the opportunity to attend the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Leaders In Education Awardsin Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, April 18. The event is hosted by Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the nation’s largest not-for-profit organization supporting Hispanic higher education. The 3rd annual Leaders In Education recognized Southern California students, parents, schools, teachers and other leaders which are making a difference in Hispanic Education and raises awareness to the work HSF has done to highlight the contributions of leaders in Education.
Congratulations to Leaders In Education Awards 2013 Winners
School of the Year – Ánimo Leadership Charter High School
Male Student of the Year – Ariel Salazar (Presented by Toyota)
Female Student of the Year – Barbie Aguilar (Presented by Toyota)
President & CEO Hispanic Scholarship Fund – Fidel A. Vargas
Educator of the Year – Teresa Carreto
Parent of the Year – Lorena Aguilar
Volunteer/Mentor of the Year – Oscar Ayon (Presented by Musician Christian Chavez)
We were honored to meet Oscar Ayon is President / Co-founder of Unidos Por La Música. Oscar Ayon has built a successful life and career and has given back to the community through various charitable programs. Unidos Por La Music is a non-profit with a mission to provide university scholarships, medical grants and hunger relief efforts by creating musical charitable events to benefit those in need. His community outreach programs “Bags of Hope”, also provided bags of groceries to needy families and fed over 66,00 children and families in the Inland Empire.
We also met the President and CEO of Hispanic Scholarship Fund Fidel Vargas. An HSF Alumni, he shared that there were 85,000 HSF applicants last year. Out of the 85,000 applicants 25,000 students qualified, However only 5,000 received awards. His goal is to take Hispanic Scholarship Fund to the next level by raising more funds to provide scholarships for students in need. He recalls receiving the scholarship funds as a student in Harvard. One year it provided academic support to be able to save to buy a ticket to come home during the holidays and another year a warm coat during winter. Several alumni shared testimonials on the difference the HSF scholarships also made in their lives.
The fundraising festivities were kicked off with an Adam Rodriguez interactive video encouraging participants to text a pledge to Hispanic Scholarship Fund. An overwhelming response and support was provided by the attendees and sponsors to raise over $79,000 in just a couple hours. Hispanic Scholarship Fund will have additional initiatives to raise awareness on the importance of supporting higher education.
The overwhelming amount of students in need of scholarships made me wonder how many other lives have been changed by Hispanic Scholarship Funds and also prompted me to ask fellow Latina Leader Network members to share their testimonials.
Stephanie Bravo, Founder of StudentMentor.org is a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni. She received an HSF Scholarship during 2009-2010 academic year. HSF was able to help her in a time when she needed the most financial help since it was the first time she moved away from home to pursue medical school. It lessened her financial burden by helping her pay for academic and living expenses. After graduating Stephanie was able to revitalize her medical school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association’s Mentorship Program, which pairs premedical students with medical student mentors to encourage them to become doctors. She wanted to make a bigger difference and cofounded StudentMentor.org — a national nonprofit organization helping students collaborate with mentors. In less than 3 years, she has been able to help more than 10,000 students achieve their academic and career goals through StudentMentor.org. Not only has Hispanic Scholarship Fund influenced her whole new career in higher education, but it keeps her engaged in her passion of mentoring as a mentor in HSF’s First Year Transition Program and is paying it forward.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with Smith New Media and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. However, all opinions are my own.
Question: Which Hispanic Scholarship Fund success story resonated with you? Why is it important to help fund Hispanic Education? What is our responsibility to others pursuing higher education?