I couldn’t have been more pleased with my sixteen-year-old daughter, Kayla. Listening to her speech on how travel inspires change, I knew that the lessons I learned at a similar age on a trip to Bogota, Colombia had taken root. Kayla’s future was bright with the promise of a lifetime of service and achievement.
The difference for my daughter is that she won’t blaze a trail, at least not in attending college. That path wasn’t so clear when I was her age. It took me ten years just to finish a four-year degree. Without mentors, I made colossal mistakes – like taking graduate level classes in my first year or losing an entire semester due to a bureaucratic glitch. And lacking financial support from my family, I alternated semesters at school with months earning the money to sign up for the next set of classes.
It wasn’t just that they didn’t help me with tuition. My parents, well, they didn’t go to college themselves, and they didn’t think it was so important for me either. They wanted me to stay home, and to help run the family business. And I was tempted. College is hard and living in poverty in New York City is at best depressing.
But I did it. With a little (or a lot) of help from my friends and hefty student loans, I earned a BA from Columbia University ten years after graduating from high school. And I went on to complete a master’s program shortly after, becoming the first person in my family to get a college education, much less a graduate degree.
Mind The Education Gap
That’s why I’m keen on inspiring lifelong learners through travel, and why I’m so passionate about the value of education. Did you know that despite being the largest US minority – 50.5 Million as of 2007 – Latinos are being left behind the education gap? Too many Latinos come from families lacking a college, or even a high school, education, and the consequences are staggering:
- Only 21 Latinos out of 100 who start in elementary school ever graduate from college.
- Only 13 out of 100 Latinos have a 4-year college degree.
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a not-for-profit organization supporting Hispanic higher education, is leading Generation 1st Degree, an initiative to close the Hispanic college degree gap by helping put at least one college degree in every Latino household. For more than thirty years, Coca-Cola has partnered with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, sharing the commitment to help meet this goal by the year 2025. Along with HSF, Coca-Cola wants to motivate people to get involved and help make a difference.
From now through October 31, students can apply for a scholarship at www.hsf.net/cocacola by answering three thought-provoking essay questions: how heritage affects their career goals, the importance of education in their lives, and their community service experiences. Students should not wait until the last minute to apply. Look for the following scholarships in your region:
- HSF/Coca-Cola® Stop & Shop Scholarship – Stop & Shop Supermarkets throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
- HSF/Coca-Cola® Live Positively® Publix Supermarkets Scholarship – Selected Publix Super Markets stores in the South Florida region.
- HSF/Coca-Cola® Live Positively® Atlanta Retailers Association Scholarship
- HSF/Coca-Cola® Refreshments West Region Scholarship
- HSF/Coca-Cola® Refreshments Northwest Region Scholarship
How You Can Help Bridge the Education Gap
Right now, share this scholarship opportunity with students, parents, and schools. And throughout the year, you can help raise funds for Hispanic college scholarships just by donating your Coke Rewards points. Destapa Su Futuro / Uncap Your Future – pass it on!
Disclosure – This compensated post is written in collaboration with Coca-Cola and Latina Bloggers Connect. Shush! Don’t tell them that I would’ve gladly done this without any compensation because it’s for a cause that I believe in strongly.
Sandra Foyt | Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @SandraFoyt.