KeyBank Scholarship Alexia Matos Mateo - University of Buffalo Alexia is currently a senior at SUNY Buffalo State. She is pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Intelligence Analysis and minors in both African American Studies and Deviance. She is also a cadet in the U.S. Army ROTC program commissioning as 2nd lieutenant in the Active Duty component upon graduation of her B.S. in May 2017. Both of Alexia’s parents migrated from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, where she was born. It is Alexia’s dream to be an advocate for immigrants in the U.S. regardless of status, to be a voice and fight for human rights. Within the past two years, Alexia has studied abroad in Santiago, Chile and taught English as a second language in an elementary school. She has also studied in Borgne, Haiti. She wants to travel the world and give back to every community she encounters. Alexia ended her essay with her own quote: “Dreams are what you make it. Be the author of your story. Don’t let anyone else write it for you.”
Carmen M. Del Valle Scholarship Destiny Diaz - University of Buffalo Destiny is currently a sophomore at the University at Buffalo, pursuing a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Spanish. Destiny was chosen as one of 30 students to be a member of a selective leadership training program. She was able to assess her own leadership abilities and grow as a future leader herself. One of the leadership qualities they shared was volunteerism, which Destiny intends to pursue aggressively. Destiny enjoys working with kids and thus volunteers weekly at the Gloria J. Parks community center in an after school program for grades K-8. Outside of her academic career, Destiny is actively involved in her church, Try Jesus Ministries, where she often volunteers. This past summer, she worked as a camp counselor for the University at Buffalo’s Science Technology Enrichment Program. Through this job, Destiny was able to give back to the community by introducing students to the benefits of working in a STEM field and to encourage them as she was. Destiny is currently on the Dean’s list and maintains a 4.0 average. Her plan is to attend graduate school for mathematics and become a professor.
Kelly Camacho - University of Buffalo The third and final child of a plumber and a teacher, growing up with little money was a struggle. But what stood out more than a lack of resources were the people who were always willing to help. As she has grown older, Kelly has writes that she can refer to the past and that has made her want to help others, especially Latinas, have access to greater opportunities than they may have had before. She wants to teach young girls that Hispanic women with degrees should be the rule, not the exception. Kelly is a senior at the University of Buffalo, majoring in environmental studies. Kelly had the opportunity to go to Selma, Alabama, where she had discovered her desire to teach. Since leaving Selma, she has joined Compeer, a mentorship program with a focus on mental health. She is currently working with a 7 year-old Puerto Rican girl. Every week when they work together, Kelly sees an opportunity to pay it forward like those who have helped her get where she is today.
Francesca D’Alessandro – University of Buffalo A strong foundation from her mother, who is Hispanic, disabled and widowed, has helped Francesca through some difficult circumstances like poverty, loss and discovering her independence. She is Puerto Rican and Italian and has identified with both sides of her ethnicity but at times has felt it difficult to fit into society as one or the other. Francesca is currently a junior at the University at Buffalo. She is majoring in Psychology and Music. Her goal is to combine the majors into a career of Music Therapy with specialization to treat children with special needs and disabilities. A real champion for Women’s rights, Francesca is also on the board of the American Association for University Women to empower women through various campaigns and advocacy functions. Francesca sees her Hispanic heritage as a way to connect with other minorities and emphasizes that they are not confined by definitions and that their prospects are limitless.
Tanahiry Escamilla – University of Buffalo Tanahiry lives with the belief that her parents came to this country to give her and her sisters a better education because they wanted them to build a foundation full of opportunities for future generations. Being the first generation to attend college in her family, has brought on a new learning experience for her and her family. Tanahiry believes it is important to educate the Hispanic community about the opportunities of minorities in STEM. She is President of the Society of Hispanic Professionals at UB where the mission is to provide STEM awareness, access, support and development to undergraduates in the Buffalo community. As a member of the National Conference Planning Committee for the Latina track, she hopes to enhance the potential of Latinas in engineering. Tanahiry is currently a junior at the University at Buffalo.
Jasmine Lopez – Niagara University Jasmine has lived on the lower Westside of Buffalo her whole life. She has always been active in the community volunteering at shelters, food pantries, and tutoring at community centers. She is the first in her family to go to college. She comes from a big Hispanic family who has always supported her decision to further her education. As a Hispanic woman, Jasmine has felt stereotyped. Media and society have often negatively portrayed Hispanic women as being uneducated, violent and promiscuous. Her mother and grandparents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and have instilled a strong work ethic, leading to her achievements. Her goal is to continue working hard and pushing Hispanic women like herself to achieve their goals with no limitations. Jasmine is in her junior year at Niagara University. When she finishes college she wants to become a domestic violence advocate and counsel juveniles. This way she can give back to the community and make a difference.
Miranda Mangual – University of Buffalo Elma, New York is a quaint and rural “south town” of Buffalo – a prime location for farming. Living in a predominantly White neighborhood town, as a Hispanic woman, made Miranda very susceptible to uncomfortable situations at school, with family, and with herself. From being taunted because of her skin color, to not being able to communicate with her family in their native language, it has been difficult. But today she is confident in her identity and knows she can live any way as a Latina! Miranda is a junior at the University at Buffalo with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. Her previous experiences with special education for children with autism and special education in bilingual classrooms has inspired her to study in these areas. She currently is a research assistant and is determined to understand our society and how we can use our findings to implement changes in our social institutions. She will then use this to culture relationships between public bilingual schools and Hispanics to help her community.
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