Testament to Perseverance
Florida Technical College commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month by making the gift of knowledge more attainable for two of its students. The college worked together with Orlando’s Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando to identify two deserving students who were recently awarded $15K each towards their education.
FTC fully underwrote these two awards. FTC students Carmen López and Zulma Echevarría were the well-deserving and proud recipients of the award.
López is majoring in Criminal Justice, while Echevarría is pursuing a degree in Business.
“This takes a big weight off my shoulders,” said López, a mother of three kids who struggles to make ends meet as a Walmart clerk. “The only thing I have to worry about now is making good grades.”
When López received the award, she was going through a hard time emotionally after losing a baby at birth. Her spirit was down, she was tired and struggling to pay medical bills and considered dropping out. Her FTC family stood by her side, with instructors and fellow students helping her get caught up with school work at a pace she could keep.
“This scholarship was the cherry on top,” López said. “It was like a sign from heaven that I was in the right place and should continue pursuing my degree for me and my family.”
Upon graduation, López wants to be a juvenile probation officer.
“I want to make a difference,” she said. “There are many teenagers out there who get into trouble because there’s no one guiding them. I want to help them turn their lives around before it is too late. I know it can be done if we had more people in the system who cared.”
Lopez’s determination comes from her desire to give her children a better life and make them proud.
“I have no time for myself,” she said. “When I’m not working or studying, I am in the backyard playing with my kids. Their laughter is music to my ears. It’s all worth it.” FTC President and CEO, David Ruggieri, said López’s story was inspiring and a good example of FTC’s student body as a whole.
“Our students have busy, sometimes complicated lives,” Ruggieri said. “We feel honored that they have selected our schools to empower themselves through education. That’s why we go out of our way to help them stay on track and be flexible when it comes to schedules. Ultimately, we want to see them all walking across the graduation stage.”
FTC has long supported the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando because of the organization’s solid track record helping area Latinos achieve.
“We are proud to be associated with the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando because it really makes a difference in our community,” Ruggieri said. “Since its inception in 2000, HHSF has provided more than $1 million in scholarships to students seeking to improve their lives through a college degree. There’s no greater agent of positive change than education.”
HHSF is the largest nonprofit organization in Central Florida dedicated to providing scholarships to Hispanic students pursuing a college or university degree.
This year, it awarded scholarships to 31 students who met the criteria, which requires a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and are enrolled or plan to enroll full-time at an accredited college or university in Orange, Seminole, Osceola or Lake County.
Latinos are the fastest-growing population group of Metro Orlando,” said Maritza Martinez, chairperson of the scholarship fund. “The economy of our region will heavily depend on us in just a few years. We’re working hard to make sure our community is prepared, academically and otherwise, to step up to the challenge.” Martinez said FTC’s support was pivotal to the organization’s efforts.
“We are grateful for FTC’s support through the years,” said Maritza Martinez, chairperson of the scholarship fund. “Hispanics are the youngest population group in Central Florida and also the fastest growing. Access to education enables us to be positive contributors to the economy, to our community and to society.”
This year’s scholarship winners were recognized at a luncheon in late October. For more information about the scholarship fund, visit www.hhsfmo.org. For information on Florida Technical College diploma, associate and bachelor’s degree programs, visit www.ftccollege.edu.
THE HISPANIC HERITAGE SCHOLARSHIP FUND OF METRO ORLANDO (HHSFMO) originated with a series of activities organized by the Hispanic Heritage Celebration Committee of Orange County, an employee group whose main purpose was to plan and organize activities for Hispanic Heritage Month. The first Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Gala was hosted by this group in October 2000 to raise the organization’s initial funds.
In 2003, as a result of this effort to support the local Hispanic community, a partnership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando was developed and the HHSFMO was established as a separate and independent organization. HHSFMO was incorporated in August 2003 as a non-pro t organization under the State of Florida.
To date, HHSFMO along with the support of our partners has been able to provide more than $1 million in scholarships to help 271 students pursue a college education.