College Scholarship Program Triples After First Year

College Scholarship Program Triples After First Year

Beating the odds: first generation Americans who are financially strapped are breaking barriers.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com)--- Beating the odds: first generation Americans who are financially strapped are breaking barriers. These Mid-Southerners are the first in their families to go to college. It's all thanks to a special program spear headed by Latino Memphis. In the second year of this program the number of students participating nearly tripled. It's a story that hits close to home.

"That was something hard because no one has ever done," said 18 year old Mariana Hernandez.

Hernandez always wanted to go to college but didn't know how to apply let alone know how to pay for it. Everything changed last year during her senior year at Kingsbury High School.

"I don't think I would be in college if it wasn't for her," said Hernandez.

Hernandez is talking about Jennifer Alejo. She's in charge of a Latino Memphis program called "Abriendo Puertas" or "Opening Doors."
    
"We believe all students should have the chance to pursue some type of post secondary education. So we're trying to offer as many avenues as we can," said Alejo.

Those avenues are through scholarships for high school students. "Abriendo Puertas" launched in 2012 and only 28 students participated. All but two are in college today.

"We have several students at MidSouth Community College in West Memphis Arkansas, we have some students in Southwest, we have a couple at the University of Memphis, and we have one who is at Victory," said Alejo.

Even though the program is run by Latino Memphis, anyone can apply. No minimum GPA or ACT scores required.

"As long as they have the desire to pursue than beyond high school then we are more than happy to work with them," stated Jennifer Aljeo.

That desire is certainly in Hernandez. Not only does she go to MidSouth Community College but she's helping the program grow and "opening doors" for other high school students.

"You're not alone you have help. We're here for you. So there's nothing to be scared of," said Hernandez.

If you would like more information about the Abriendo Puertas program you can call Latino Memphis at 901-366-5882 or email jennifer@latinomemphis.org
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