USF Celebrates 28th Annual Latino Scholarship Awards Ceremony

Aug. 16, 2019

President Steven Currall and the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee (LCAC) welcomed 36 incoming and 103 continuing undergraduate scholars at the annual Latino Scholarship Awards Ceremony on Aug. 15, which was sponsored by the Florida Lottery.

Although there are many scholarships in existence, the Latino Scholarship is unique in that it pairs a scholar with a mentor. Mentors are donors to the program who support their students, not only financially, but by providing guidance and career advice as the students move along their educational continuum.

“We are proud to partner with so many generous members of the Tampa Bay community to support these deserving students,” said President Currall. “The financial contributions from our supportive community are critical to helping them realize their dreams. We also know that the mentoring and encouragement the students receive through this outstanding program are vital to their success.”

The scholarship program, which was founded in 1992, selects recipients on the basis of academic performance and financial need. Strong consideration is granted to first-generation, Spanish-speaking students. The program boasts more than 525 graduates and has awarded in excess of $3.5 million.

One of this year’s recipients, Mike Rosario, graduated from Sickles High School with a 4.0 GPA and in the top 10 percent of his class. He is the first member of his family, who comes from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, to attend college.

“This scholarship has been a tremendous blessing, one that will allow me to pursue my studies and conduct research,” said Rosario, who plans to major in biomedical engineering and aspires to become a physician. “I represent many people coming to this country for a better life and working hard to achieve the American dream. I am excited about the future and the ability to help others.”

President Currall and the LCAC recognized both scholars and donors at this year’s ceremony, which attracted approximately 500 guests.

“The transformational power of education is impactful to all students, particularly those who are first in their family to complete a postsecondary degree,” said Grace Maseda-Sainz, chair of the LCAC. “The scholarship support and mentorship provided to these students will undoubtedly influence the trajectory of their lives.”

The Florida Lottery is a proud sponsor of this year’s Latino Scholarship Awards. The Florida Lottery has contributed more than $35 billion to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund to enhance public education in Florida, and enabled more than 800,000 students to attend college through the Bright Future Scholarship Program. Latino Scholarship recipients who also receive the Bright Futures Scholarship are celebrated in a private reception, where they are recognized by Florida Lottery leadership and receive a medallion.

“I remember the day I received the notification from Bright Futures,” said Latino Scholarship recipient Megan Kogan, a junior at USF. “I immediately called my mother during lunch, and we just cried. We were so happy! I felt at ease and proud. I was proud that my hard work paid off; I wasn’t going to have to worry about how college would be paid for. Being a Bright Futures student means I will receive the education needed to be successful.”

Media and in-kind sponsors include CENTRO Tampa, La Gaceta, the Tampa Bay Times, Univision Tampa Bay and Entravision.

In addition to Maseda-Sainz, the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee includes officers Anthony Perez, vice chair; Norma Berrios, secretary; and members, Catalina Botero, Rey Bulnes, Simon Canasi, Ron Dyser, Liana Fernandez-Fox, Jorge A. Fuentes, Rafael Gonzalez, Richard Gonzmart, Kristi Laribee, Eric Ortiz, Diana Perez, Luz Randolph, Jorge Soriano and Jorge Valiente. The committee’s activities are supported by the USF Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity through Patsy Sánchez, the liaison between the university and the committee.