From a young age the love for education was instilled in me.
I was born in Northern New Jersey, and raised in between Newark, NJ and Aguadilla Puerto Rico. Although my young parents were unable to attend college, they stressed the importance of excelling in school.
During my high school years, my mother decided to pursue a college degree as a non-traditional student. As a result, we would spend many nights studying and doing homework together. I knew that I wanted to follow her path and apply to college as well. I wanted to experience the traditional college experience she was unable to have.
However, there was just one problem, how would I pay for it?!
My eye-opening research showed me just how expensive college tuition truly was.
I was determined not to burden my family or myself by mortgaging my future.
That is when I learned about scholarships.
MY SCHOLARSHIP HUNT
My high school guidance counselor informed me about something college scholarships. She described it as essay writing contests where the winners receive cash for college.
A light bulb went off in my head, and I immediately became obsessed with applying for scholarships. I spent my days and nights brainstorming and writing essays for my scholarship applications.
After submitting my applications, I started to hear back. I received everything from small checks for books of $150 all the way up to larger awards of $10,000! In addition to this, I was offered full-tuition scholarships from three separate universities. Ultimately, I was awarded gifts amounting to over $150,000 in scholarship money to attend college.
Needless to say I felt relieved and my parents were very proud.
MY WORK - College Money Chica
After receiving the scholarships, I began to receive requests from high schools and community organizations to share my story with students and their families. I started to host workshops and motivational seminars on how students can achieve the same scholarship success.
For the past 10 years I have been visiting high schools and sharing my story through my initiative which I called College Money Chica.
The goal of College Money Chica is to spread awareness to Latino college students, that going to college for free IS possible. That mortgaging your future by taking out excessive student loans is not the only way to attend college.
Since starting College Money Chica, I decided to deepen my knowledge of the world of higher education and in May 2017, I completed a Masters in Higher Education from Teachers College at Columbia University (which was fully funded by my employer).
Currently, in addition to continuing my work with College Money Chica, I hold a full-time career as a university fundraiser. I like to say that my career has come full circle because now I spend much of my time fundraising for scholarships to give away to current students.
MY GOALS AND DREAMS
My dream is to be able to inform every parent and student of the opportunities that exist for paying for college. The student loan crisis of this country deeply saddens me and my hope is that my workshops and seminars can help alleviate the burden for families and students.