(My sis and two of her classmates receiving their Doctoral degree)
A bit of a diversion this lovely Monday. After a fantastic weekend that ended in mellow dramatic exchanges with some Internet acquaintances, I went to bed at 9 this morning. I was up all night working and reading blog posts from other bloggers that shared their stories, their interests, their talents and their experiences.
While reading one particular post by a non-food blogger, I was reminded of how important it is to sound educated in what you write in such public forums. That’s of course if you care to sound intelligent. This young lady is a recent college grad and is now pursuing a career in journalism. Her blog post was written with a lot of passion and conviction for what what she had learned in her college years.
While her blog topic falls in a completely opposite realm of my affairs, it struck a cord. I was reminded of my days in college and how much I loved every day of it.
I didn’t get into the University of Virginia when I first applied. I was wait-listed. That wasn’t good enough for me. In the meantime, I started school at George Mason and studied Politics and Journalism. Having done my research on the exceptional polisci program UVa offered, I was determined to get in and graduate from the school that Thomas Jefferson founded. I was in love with the campus, its history, its curricula and its support of the student body. I was hopeful of the opportunities a degree from UVa would bring me.
I’ve always been a hyper-persistent woman. Anyone who knows me will attest to that. I don’t give up. So, on the day I got the “Please be advised you have been wait-listed for entry into the class of 19–,” I called the Dean of Admissions– Larry was his name– and begged for an in-person appointment with him.
They didn’t allow me to speak to him personally but after a few phone calls and convincing, they honored the meeting. One week later, I drove 2 hours at 5 am to meet with the man that would single-handedly decide whether I’d be removed from the wait list and walk on May 18th, 19–. My objective: for him to meet me the young lady behind the application, the essays, the SAT scores, the pictures. I felt there was so much more to me than some requisite documents could paint.
I entered his office and sat down, slightly nervous. He started the conversation and said “Ms. Herrera, you are one persistent young lady. I’ve never had an applicant ask for a personal in-person meeting. What’s your story? Why do you want to attend Uva?”
I said my piece, firmly shook his hand and left.
I graduated from UVa two years later with the late Christopher Reeve giving our Commencement speech. That day is still a vivid memory in my mind. I cried, not because I had a coveted degree from UVa, rather because someone believed in me.
I wasn’t just this brown Latina that needed to satisfy their status quo. I was legitimately qualified to have Tiki and Ronde Barber as classmates and deserved to be among a class of 21k where 78% are White, 12% Black , 10% Asian and 2% Latino made up the general student body.
I didn’t go to UVa on a scholarship and am okay with that. My parents sacrificed a tremendous amount of hard work and comittment to my (and my siblings’) education and for that I’m blessed.
Most recently, my sister graduated with a Doctorate degree. Having witnessed the hard and relentless work she put into her 4 years of grad school, is evidence that the desire to be empowered and to establish a sound career and mind for ourselves is present and alive. It’s thriving. My sister was the only Latina in her class.
We need to change that.
Notwithstanding the missing public sponsored education, my sister and I both value our priceless education but know not everyone is fortunate to have the resources to pursue college in the traditional way; in our case mami y papi.
(L-R: Sis, Mami, Papi, me)
To that end, let’s pay it forward! As you know, I’m a Latina Smart ambassador. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Latina Smart is offering a LATINA SMART FUND SCHOLARSHIP offered by Kmart.
The Smart Fund will dish out a total of $25k in scholarships to Latinas who are graduating from high school or students currently matriculated in college or trade schools. One Latina will receive $10k and three additional will receive $5k!
Candidates can easily apply through a fun and interactive App found on the Latina Smart FaceBook page, where entrants will be required to submit a 750-1,000-word essay. Alternatively, you may submit a two-minute video answering a question posed on the Latina Smart Page.
For more information on how to enter, visit the Community Page. The App is on the left hand side of the Page . The application is also on the lef t hand side of the Page.
Lastly, as an ambassador of this cultural campaign, I along with the other ladies will be rating and considering the top 50 candidates. We’ll be looking at your style, passion, and overall dedication to your education. Finally, the top 20 applicants will vie for scholarships which will ultimately be decided by a panel of educators and the heads at Kmart.
To be educated is to have power. To have knowledge is to be fearless.
Be Smart. Be Educated.
* This post is part of my sponsored involvement with the Latina Smart campaign and our support of the Scholarship Fund.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.