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USF Latino Scholars Program Encourages Some to Lift While Others Climb

Author: Helios Education Foundation

July 30, 2018

The University of South Florida (USF) Latino Scholarship Program will begin its 27th year this upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. The program’s motto We Must Lift as We Climb captures the essence of the program. 

The university-wide, undergraduate scholarship is designed to assist USF in achieving and sustaining the education benefits of diversity and increasing the number of USF students who complete a postsecondary degree. The program brings together high-potential scholars who are recognized for their academic merits and who demonstrate financial need. USF Latino Scholars boast a first year retention rate as well as a six-year graduation rate of 92 percent. By comparison, the national first year retention rate is 81 percent while the national six-year graduation rate stands at 60 percent according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

“The Latino Scholarship is impacting our community in unmeasurable ways….think not only about the graduates, many of whom were the first in their families to attend college, but about their children. Children who will never again identify as the first ones in their family to attend college. We are in fact changing that narrative and positively influencing future generations” said Patsy Sánchez, Director of Diversity and Inclusion within the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at the University of South Florida.

Helios has been a proud supporter of USF Latino Scholars program for the past 10 years, originating with an investment of $1.25 million into the program in 2008. The investment also funds the Dominick and Emelene Aripoli Scholarship, named in honor of Helios Education Foundation Board Member Dr. Don Aripoli’s parents. These students are  recognized as Aripoli Scholars. 

The 2018 cohort of the Latino scholarship program is the largest in the history of the program, which has graduated 485 students since its inception. The 2018 cohort bringing the total number of scholarship recipients this year is 143. This year a total of 28 students will be funded by Helios.  

“Although I have graduated, receiving the scholarship all four years of my undergraduate career wasn't only about helping my financial situation through USF. It helped me become a part of a small community within USF, especially with the other Aripoli scholars” said  Thomas Cella, an Aripoli Scholar who graduated in 2017 with a degree in biomedical sciences, and minors in psychology and public health. “Our yearly luncheons with Dr. Aripoli and speeches, in addition to the Latino Scholarship ceremonies, helped me connect with other students and faculty at USF. At these annual luncheons, students like myself shared the long road they and their families took to attend college, some students being the first in their families to do so” he concluded. Cella will begin his second year of pharmacy school in the fall at the University of South Florida, and expects to graduate with his doctorate in 2021.

“Our graduates are making a difference every day through their professions, locally and nationally, but the ripples of this program do not stop there. I’ve likened our Latino Scholarship success to the phrase the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ as our graduates are now returning to bestow on someone else the gift once made to them,” said Sanchez. 

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