Latino U College Access Awards $13,000 in Scholarships to First-Generation College Students

Westchester County Executive George Latimer with Latino U Scholars, Cosette Gutierrez (LUCA Executive Director), and Shirley Acevedo Buontempo (LUCA Founder & Strategic Growth Officer). Photo: Joe Golden

Latino U College Access (LUCA) hosted its annual Familia Appreciation Day honoring the 50 Latino U Scholars in the graduating Class of 2022 who represent five Westchester County high schools – Ossining High School, Sleepy Hollow High School, Alexander Hamilton High School, Westlake High School, and White Plains High School. The celebration took place at the Wilson House in White Plains and brought together the entire LUCA Familia including Scholars, families, volunteer College Coaches, partners, and generous supporters.

Familia Appreciation Day kicked off with congratulatory remarks from the organization’s proud government advocates – State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, NYS Assemblymember Amy Paulin, and NYS Assemblymember Christopher Burdick – each wishing Scholars luck on their journeys as they become the first in their families to attend college. County Executive George Latimer also joined the celebration to recognize the incredible students and families in the Class of 2022. In addition to remarks from a few of New York’s government leaders, first-year volunteer College Coach Maribel Marmol; Latino U Scholars Anthony (Class of 2022) and Laura (Class of 2020) Huanca; and Yolanda Soliz, mother of Latino U Scholar, Angelica Arevalo, all shared heartfelt messages on how LUCA has made a difference in their lives and helped make college dreams a reality.

“We are thrilled to honor the Latino U Scholars Class of 2022 – who will be the first in their family to attend and graduate from college!” said Cosette Gutierrez, Executive Director of Latino U College Access. “Today we celebrate you and those who helped get you here – parents, family, schools, teachers, and volunteer College Coaches – who believed in you and cheered you on every step of the way. Your family taught you the meaning of sacrifice and how to find opportunity in the face of any adversity or any barrier in front of you.”

Latino U Scholar and Sleepy Hollow High School Graduate, Emily, and her family. Photo: Joe Golden

The celebration continued with the presentation of the First En Familia scholarships. Since 2015, LUCA has distributed $53,000 to commendable Scholars. This year alone, the organization was thrilled to award $13,000 in scholarships to twelve exceptional winners. One award was graciously given by Sculptor Capital Management, one of LUCA’s corporate partners. The remaining scholarships were given in honor of loved ones, including the Judith Garcia Scholarship. Judith Garcia, mother of Darwin Arias, a Class of 2018 Scholar, graduated from Columbia University in May. To commemorate Darwin’s college graduation, an anonymous donor wanted to do something very special to celebrate his incredible milestone. The Judith Garcia Scholarship became a renewable $2,500 scholarship which will be given annually to the recipient during her four years in college.

The program concluded with Scholars receiving special graduation gifts, and all of the guests spent time socializing, playing games, and enjoying Peruvian and Cuban fusion food from Latusion and The Perfect Mix food trucks.

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