Essays show the value of a helping hand

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After reading a brief description of the personal stories of these two young Latinos, chosen by the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) as the first recipients of the LEDC and the “George W. Linares” scholarships, one must question the stereotypes that portrays our community’s kids dropping out of school before graduation and having no hopes for a superior education. In fact, this story proves that most of the times all they need is a helping hand and someone willing to trust and invest in them.

Their names, Hanani Cardenas and Pedro Ruiz. Two recently graduated Latino kids. Both come from low-income families but their will and heart is something that one must admire.

They both form part of a select group of eight Latino kids who applied for the LEDC scholarship program last May.

LEDC’s program is the first in the Twin Cities to promote scholarships to Latino kids and give a hand to those who, due to their immigration status or economical situation, wouldn’t be able to obtain a scholarship through traditional means. This year LEDC presented these two kids with a $3,000 scholarship recently presented by the Linares family in memory of their son George.

LEDC describes the creation and development the program by saying, “The history of this program goes back more than 10 years, when a group of low-income individuals with business aspirations, had the dream of implementing a program that would offer higher education opportunities to low-income Latino students who also might be facing legal challenges that prevented them from having access to financing in order to continue their studies. For some years, Latino leaders from different fields of community development kept meeting to continue working on the process of figuring out a program that would allow the fulfilling of the original vision, and they formed a unique partnership with “El Fondo de Nuestra Comunidad” to implement an endowment within the Saint Paul Foundation. Today, that vision has produced the first results and the Latino Economic Development Center –LEDC- is honored to present these two $3,000 each scholarships to two future college students.”

The essays written by these two future college students, as part of their applications, are worth reading. They tell us a different story about what we are used to hearing from kids applying for scholarships. These two essays tell us a story of a different kind of Latino, Latinos willing to fight and fulfill their dreams despite adversity. These are the essays. We hope you enjoy them and learn from them as much as we did.

Hanani Cardenas
As an older child who works, I am expected to share the responsibilities in my house with my income: like paying bills, plus giving them $100 every pay check, and giving them gas money. In addition I have to use my paycheck to buy personal things like clothes, hygiene products, and save up for college. My grandmother doesn’t really think I can make it into college because I am not legal citizen here and because two of my uncles, who went to high school in the U.S., didn’t even graduate. I want to not only prove my family and community wrong but I want to help them. I will show my family that I can have hope for a higher education in this country. I have been accepted to college but in order to reach my dreams I have to fight for them. That is why I am applying for this scholarship. I would like to relieve my mom and grandparents from money stress since my grandparents have been laid off more than a year now. But primarily I want to show my younger siblings that college is the way to go in life. To my community I would show that statistics may be inaccurate, because I am a minority woman who didn’t drop out or get pregnant. Instead I have the second highest GPA in my grade and plan to have a career at a hospital or clinic giving answers to questions and translating for Spanish-speaking families as a medical assistant.

These are just a few of the reasons why I believe getting this scholarship will change my life. It will help me reach the potential I know I have and accomplish something worthy. I can help my parents and myself not to struggle so much financially.

I hope to succeed so my younger siblings and my Latino community can experience success in the U.S. society.

Pedro E. Ruiz
My name is Pedro Ruiz and I’m an artist with good drawing skills. I have lived in the United Estates for six years. I was born in Mexico City and lived there for 12 years. Even though I was born in Mexico, I have learned and received my education here. I have learned how to speak, read, and write in English and that is one of the hardest obstacles that I have overcome. It was extremely difficult leaving my friends and family but I had no choice, my father wanted a better future for me.

I want to study Graphic Design because I’m interested in a career where I can use my creativity and my artistic skills. My goal is to get a Bachelors Degree and get a job that I enjoy. I have seen too many people stuck in jobs that they don’t like and yet they continue working in them because they have to support their families. I plan to go to a two-year college to prepare my self academically and then transfer to a four-year college or university. I want to use my artistic talent to help my community express visually the problems that we have. As a graphic designer I would have a venue to be an activist in my community by creating works of art that would represent what goes on in my community. I have been to the State Capitol and talked to one of the House representatives about the Dream Act; I have learned that to get somewhere we have to work hard and stand up for what we believe.

I am the first member of my family that has graduated from high school and if I go to college and get a degree I would make my father really proud. I want my younger brothers to see me as a good example. By being a good example I hope to encourage my siblings to get an education as well. I want them to see that it is hard but it is all worth it in the end because we will be better prepared. My father decided to bring us here so we could get a better education and more future opportunities. By graduating from college I would be fulfilling my father’s goals and mine as well.