As I was waiting in the airport last week I was thinking of all the institutions and benefactors that have contributed towards my education and dreams; I began thinking about how these organizations have elevated me and how grateful I am to have reached this point. When I assess my growth as a student and young woman, however, there is one organization that has undeniably played a role in the development of my academic abilities and my plan of action for success. With only six weeks left to apply to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund I have had a lot of time to reflect on the impact this organization has had on my life, not only academically but also deep beyond the surface.
Last Monday HSF flew me in to Los Angeles to film an interview in which I basically just talked about myself and my background and accomplishments, and I was reminded just how terrible I am in front of a camera! But in all seriousness I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion at some of the questions for I was prompted to look at all the hard work and effort I had to put in to be sitting in front of that videographer. Still, I failed to believe that out of the hundreds of scholars I was one of the very few they chose to interview. I’ve met so many people with accomplishments that left me speechless and amazed, so what made mine so special? Why were they so proud of me that they decided to go through all of the expenses of flying me in for literally one day for this very moment? The Hispanic Scholarship Fund has changed my life for the better, and this is no exaggeration.
HSF has pushed me out of my comfort zone through the many conferences I’ve had the honor to participate in such as the Leadership Conference and the Career Symposium, both hosted in California and fully funded by the organization itself. While I used to be very reluctant when starting a conversation with a complete stranger and even more anxious to maintain this exchange, I have grown open to the opportunity to meet new people and have even found myself being complemented for my ability to communicate with others. I now boldly expose myself to the possibility of networking and creating new friendships and connections, something I never imagined myself doing and something I used to feel wildly uncomfortable with. I am grateful HSF has presented a stage for me in which I could gain more confidence in myself and attain experience in communicating and presenting myself in the best light. Not only this, I have also forged dozens of irreplaceable friendships all around the country with people of diverse backgrounds who I identify with and are inspired by. Because we share a common heritage and shared goals these are authentic friendships that I still keep in contact and share ideas with.
Beyond the social aspect, this organization has also prepared me professionally. At the Career Symposium they were able to coordinate interviews with nationally renowned companies, but it didn’t just end there: they thoroughly prepared us to succeed in these interviews down to the last detail. They hosted workshops on professional resources such as LinkedIn, taught us how to dress and behave, and even had people review our resumes and take our head-shots. These skills we acquired continue to be relevant and I am glad to persistently still apply them today. Outside of this event they also present scholars with career services and opportunities; they make themselves available to us for any concerns we might have and lead us to other places where we can obtain further resources. Their dedication to making magic happen for us scholars is remarkable and much needed for Latino students pursuing a higher education.
It would be downright disrespectful for me to trivialize the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s efforts as just a monetary award used to pay for my books and basic necessities; they invested in my education, believed in my vision, and equipped me with the resources I need to reach beyond the stars. They create a space for students to inspire and be inspired, and are a source of unconditional support and rapport. The personality and enthusiasm that the staff brings to the organization only make it a much more valuable privilege and their dedication to the mission shines through. I don’t believe I can say thank you enough, and if you qualify to apply to become an HSF scholar do not wait another minute to apply: I promise you they will change your life.