All 8 awardees are female students.
Based in Greenville, AHAM observed its 16th annual ceremony, giving $20,000 to eight high schoolers, all young women.
The scholarships for each person ranged from $5,000 to $1,000.
Fanny T. Mantilla, president of AHAM, set the tone by reminding of the usual struggle to attain a 4-year degree.
Work hard and you’ll succeed, she quickly advised.
“Be vigilant in each step in your professional training,” Mantilla said. And,“be flexible and be open to all the opportunities.”
Adela Mendoza, executive director of the Hispanic Alliance, said she was pleased to see all 8 awardees are women this year.
She said in many Hispanic cultures it’s the men who usually are given the upper hand, not the women.
“It’s nice seeing the (young) women on top,” she said.
Each of the winners attended the ceremony, along with their families, members of AHAM and invited guests. The ceremony was held at the University Center on South Pleasantburg Drive, near the main campus of Greenville Technical College.
Tobi Kinsell, director of "Bridges to a Brighter Future” based at Furman University, provided a warm message to AHAM for providing the scholarships.
“We appreciate all that you do,” she said.
Kinsell has a special interest in the students want to attend college.
For a decade, she has worked at “Bridges…. assisting about 300 students prepare for college. Some are fortunate enough to attend Furman; others attend other colleges and universities in the Upstate from Clemson University to Bob Jones University.
“We are all excited to see women doing great things,” she said. “I’m honored to be standing before you.”
Returning to a theme raised by Mantilla, Kinsell pointed out to these young women that by accepting the scholarships, each was accepting a responsibility.
“I know you might have heard this often, but you are our future,” she said. “In every action you take or don’t take you are going to have a direct impact on the world.”
Those who study Hispanic trends predict that by 2050, one of every three Americans will be Hispanics.
So, her guidance is more than just platitudes.
Kinsell also talked about “grit,” not the meal people eat for breakfast mornings, but “courage, backbone, spirit… determination” it takes to finish college.
That’s what it takes — along with patience, fortitude— to earn a bachelor’s.
It’s that combination of motivation and durability that helps propel a student to the end.
Many of these recipients will be the first in their families to graduate either both high school or college.
Fitting in an AHAM tradition, William Vallejo, awarded an AHAM Scholarship in 2010, provided inspiration to the scholarship recipients.
He said that he had just graduated from the University of South Carolina earlier this month.
Like Kinsell, he also had affectionate words for AHAM, which traditionally supports Hispanic Communities in the Upstate.
Vallejo, who plans to attend law school, attempted to help the students what attitude each should assume.
“Through hard work, we can achieve what we deserve, “ he said.
Dressed in a suit and tie, he said each Hispanic student had duty to both give back and inspire the young Latinos.
“We cannot take these opportunities for granted,” he said. "Our community is looking up to us.”
Vallejo said that a key USC organization is Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, a Latin campus group established at the college about 2 years ago.
The Fraternity's mission is to "create innovative ways to unit the Latino Community,” according to one website.
He said he would encourage Hispanic to join Latin fraternities and sororities, which provide another level of support on campuses nationwide.
Vallejo said he also had the opportunity for a year to work in office of S.C. State Attorney Alan Wilson.
He said it provides some hands-on experience of what it’s like to be an attorney.
Since 1999, AHAM has awarded $234,300 to 107 “exceptional students,” according to Nivia H. de Toothman, the fundraising chair.
Sandra Yudice, who serves in the Scholarship Committee, said that there were two main requirements asked of the recipients.
Namely, that each finishes college in 4- years, and then return to assist in their communities.
AHAM sent noticies about the scholarships to schools in a 10-county area, Yudice said.
The winners were chosen from about screened 17 candidates. A 4-person scholarship committee judged the students on: their GPA (grades), an essay, their community involvement and their interview with serving on the scholarship panel chaired by Lissette Teanor of AHAM.
At the end of the ceremony, Dr. Judith Prince of USC, announced that the four students who were be attending USC would each be given an additional $1,500 for their tuition.
She also advised all the students that if they ran into trouble while in college, each should go to someone on the campus for help.
Prince said that she’d be available 24/7 to assist students who’ll be studying at USC.
The 8 AHAM Scholarship Awardees for 2014:
IIse Isidro-Antonio, $5,000 to study nursing at USC-Upstate
Valentina Ruiz, $4,000 to study biology at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla.
Jennifer Karina Zepeda, $3,000 to study nursing at Emory University, Atlanta
Vanessa Jaramillo, $2,000 to study nursing at USC-Upstate
Karen Abril Santiago Guevara, $2,000 to study education at Lander University
Lilyana Crisol Alfonso, $2,000 to study nursing at USC-Upstate
Dina Sharon Estrada Ruiz, $1,000 to study business at Furman University
Lilia Yaquelin Medina, $1,000 to study education at USC-Upstate