Celebration of Latino Youth Who Will Be the First in Their Families to Attend College

Scholarship Group (L-R): Recipients of Latino U College Access’ “First En Familia” scholarships. Bottom: Juan Andrés Vélez Arango (WPHS); Michelle Mahecha Perez (WPHS); Erik Aguirre (SHHS); Lissbeth Larrea Ortiz (SHHS); Danielle Rameriz (WPHS); Melanie Collana (WPHS); Doriz Yari Suin (SHHS). Top: Darwin Arias, Latino U Scholar 2018; Mark Dutan (OHS); Tierney Saccavino, Executive Vice President, Acorda Therapeutics; Pilar Cerón (WPHS); Anthony Justic, M Group Consulting LLC; Kevin Arpi (OHS); Al Gutierrez, Chairman, Latino U College Access

Latino U College Access (LUCA) hosted its sixth annual Graduation Celebration for first generation Latino youth on Wednesday, June 5 th at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY. This year’s celebration honored the Class of 2019 Latino U Scholars, thirty-six graduating seniors who will be the first in their families to attend college, along with their volunteer College Coaches who mentored and supported them through the admissions process

Scholars and guests heard from Dr. Guillermo Linares, President of the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation who shared his experiences and journey as a first generation college graduate. In addition to Dr. Linares, volunteer College Coach Amy Silverstein; Latino U Scholar Erika Bravo, a senior at Sleepy Hollow High School; and Uriel Mahecha and Maria Perez, parents of Latino U Scholar Michelle Mahecha Perez of White Plains High School, all shared heartfelt testimonies on how Latino U College Access has made a difference in their lives and helped make their college dreams a reality.

Yisel Tejeda, Emmy Award Winning journalist who is currently a reporter for Univision 41 New York, surprised guests and shared advice for the Class of 2019 based on her own experiences as a Latina college student. The organization also awarded ten “First En Familia” scholarships to students that totaled $6,000.

Latino U Scholars are high-achieving, academically talented, motivated students who are recommended to the program by school counselors at one of the organization’s partner schools, which include White Plains High School (WPHS), Sleepy Hollow High School (SHHS), Ossining High School (OHS), and Fox Lane High School (FLHS).

“We are inspired every single day by the students and families we serve. Our Scholars are determined to succeed – seeking to honor the sacrifices their families have made,” said Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, Founder and CEO of Latino U College Access. “They are on a path to a brighter future because they dared to dream and reach higher for educational opportunity. We are honored to have helped them achieve this tremendous milestone and will continue supporting them throughout their college journeys.”

This year’s Graduation Celebration was generously sponsored by Acorda Therapeutics, Mastercard, Edwin Gould Foundation, TD Bank, Jones Lang LaSalle, and Open Door Family Medical Center.

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