Wednesday, May 9, 2012, (Bronx, NY) - Hostos Community College’s long history of supporting diversity was rewarded again at the Hostos Gallery on Tuesday, May 8, as 25 students received $500 in scholarship funding from the Ernesto Malavé National Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship during a special ceremony in the art gallery.
Puerto Rican flags and artwork decorated the walls of the gallery, while traditional music performed by Gloria Mirabal filled the packed room, as the students were honored by Madelyn Lugo, President of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade; Carlos Velazquez, President of Galos Corporation, Debra Martínez, Director of the Diversity Foundation, Dawn M. Carillo, Marketing Director of Banco Popular; Victor Rivera, Vice President of 1199 SEIU; and Hostos President Félix Matos Rodríguez.
For President Matos Rodríguez, also the Grand Marshal for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the event was the perfect way to celebrate students, bring the community together as well as help launch the parade scheduled for June 10.
The scholarship program was created last May to honor Malavé, a South Bronx raised Puerto Rican who worked tirelessly as Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance of CUNY before passing away unexpectedly in November of 2009 at the age of 51. The scholarship is based on financial need and awarded to students in good academic standing who also work to improve their communities.
Some of the scholarships were made possible by Carlos Velásquez and Debra Martínez.
Velásquez is a 1974 Hostos graduate who is an active fundraiser for the College. Throughout the years, over 200 students have been granted the awards that range from $500 to $1,000 through the Diversity Foundation of Galos Corporation.
President Matos Rodríguez urged the recipients, to not forget the people who have helped them along the way. He also thanked the key sponsors who provided funding for the awards.
“There is nothing wrong with getting to the top, but remember you don’t get there alone.”
President Matos Rodríguez said celebrating Malavé, who he called one of the most important Puerto Ricans at CUNY and the community at large, was also important.
“He was always making sure CUNY contributed to many Puerto Rican events and we all knew what this place meant to Malavé … It is incredibly fitting to name the scholarship after Ernesto after all that he did,” President Matos Rodríguez said.
Scholarship recipient Yolanda Félix is set to graduate from Hostos in June and will transfer to Lehman College to pursue a degree health administration. Despite having 25 years of experience working in the beauty industry, Félix came to Hostos to expand her education and majored in office technology. She said Tuesday that everyone at Hostos provided excellent guidance as she “competes” with her 21-year-old daughter who is also pursuing a college degree.
“I am surprised and honored. The supports I got at Hostos was really unbelievable,” Félix said.
Fellow recipient Mabel Marte Taveras is studying liberal arts and science and has a GPA of 3.6.
While she wants to eventually become a physician, Taveras said she got emotional when she learned she received the scholarship award that requires a letter of recommendation. Taveras also works at the Hostos Office of Evening and Weekend Services and had a letter written on her behalf by her boss, Luz Pagan.
“It meant so much, what he wrote. He talked about how responsible I am. It was nice to know people think I am on the right path and working hard,” Taveras said as she became a bit emotional just before the festivities.
Liberal arts major Michael Perez is aiming at a nursing degree from Lehman College and said the award gave him a sense of pride about being Puerto Rican and doing well enough to earn the award.
“Financial aid only goes so far. I will be putting this toward my education,” Perez said.
Michael Cruz won the scholarship award in 2010 and spoke to this year’s group about using it to improve their situations so they can give back to those not as lucky.
Cruz’s mother and two siblings also went to Hostos and he thanked his grandfather, who worked as a migrant worker, and his grandmother, who worked long hours in factories, for helping all of them reach their academic goals.
“Remember, someone had you in mind. Never forget to pay it forward,” Cruz said.
Nydia Edgecombe, the Director of Alumni relations at Hostos, also spoke and hoped the students emulated the man the award was named after.
“I truly hope you are the future Ernesto Malavés.”
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