USF Latino Scholarship Awards
USF held its 19th annual Latino Scholarship Awards on its Tampa campus last night. The Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office hosts the event every year in order to ensure diversity on campus.
Odette Figueruelo, an alumnus with a master’s in Spanish opened up the night by explaining just how the program impacted her life. Lissette Campos, ABC’s Action News director of community affairs, continued with a speech on the topic: “education is key”.
“As someone who was told I was too ugly and I didn’t speak English well enough to be a television reporter, wanting it badly wasn’t good enough. It was the education that I received in college that helped me to prove that person wrong. And so I encourage every one of you tonight to embrace this moment. Take lots of pictures. Remember every second and then go forward and succeed because when you do, you take all of us with you.”
USF President Judy Genshaft said the program has helped increase diversity on the USF campus.
"We have really made a difference in the diversity over the ten years that I’ve been here. And this year’s USF’s freshman class we have 934 students that are Latino. That is 20% of the total freshman enrollment. 20%."
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said USF’s Latino Program has the ability to change a child’s path.
"If you do well, you can go to USF. And for the first time that young person sees an opportunity and a potential for themselves that otherwise did not exist. And so they take this scholarship and then they’re sitting in this audience tonight. And when I read the brochure that talks about the alum of these scholarships, my goodness, doctors; lawyers; accountants. I’m looking for a mayor in the group."
Maritza Rovira-Forina read the mission statement of the Latino Scholarship Program.
"The Latino Scholarship enables USF to welcome students who might not otherwise have the financial opportunity to earn a four year degree. Through the program’s unique donor, mentor aspect, we play a role in USF effort to impact student success. And in seeking to make award to diverse groups of students, the program supports USF diversity goals."
A slideshow was played to commemorate the program’s founder, Dr. Braulio Alonso who died this past June. The presentation described him as a leader, mentor, and an inspiration. Maria Barrientos was a student who received a scholarship in the program. She recently graduated and gave an Irish blessing to all future scholars. Lissette Campos concluded the ceremony by encouraging the students to “never give up”.
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“They knew that the only thing that could change them; change their career path rather was getting a good education. That’s something no one can take away from you. So study, study, study. You know Winston Churchill would say never give up, never give up, never give up. Please embrace that with your studies. No one will ever be able to take that away from you.”