Spanish class more than just “la tarea”

Scholarship opportunities for Latino students

Photographer: Claudia Ruiz
Ethan Pimentel, a SHHS alumni and Jr at LETU, shows Lopez the Longview campus.

Story by: Dylan Murdick, Sports Editor

College is expensive. For some students, the cost of higher education makes a secondary diploma a dream rather than a possibility. Community Partners, such as AT&T Services, recognize the need for an educated workforce, and the cooperation is willing to match funds to help provide scholarships for students, especially those with the much-needed skill of being bilingual.

Spring Hill High School Maestra, Claudia Ruiz, recognizes the need for promoting and providing outreach to students that may not have the resources nor the family support, due to language barriers and economic factors. In response, she volunteers for the organization “Hacemos”, which helps Hispanics students to go to college.  Last January, Ruiz and several of her friends donated $1,800 to provide scholarships for students from the East Texas area. Hacemos is an AT&T’s Hispanic/Latino employee resource group with a national presence that is open to all AT&T employees that match raised funds dollar for dollar. After application and acceptance, the total scholarship totaled $3,600. In addition to the East Texas funds, the partnership allows students to apply for the national scholarship as well.

“I am not an employee of AT&T,” said Claudia Ruiz, ” but I received training from the chapter HACEMOS/Dallas Forth Worth and report to them.”

Maestra Ruiz recognizes that not only is funding an issue but many times Hispanic students and families don’t know how to begin searching for a university or getting information in their native language.

“Last June, we had 26 families participating in the program and 5 colleges providing information about their colleges to these families, ” Ruiz said.

“Last summer, I was able to help  11 families from Spring Hill, Longview ISD and Pine Tree ISD fill out the FAFSA & TAFSA application, as well as college entrance and scholarship applications.”

On February 24th,  Ruiz took 7 students from Spring Hill and Pine Tree High Schools to visit 5 colleges: ETBU, LeTourneau, Kilgore College, UT Tyler, and TJC.

“I wanted them to start applying before the summer,” Ruiz said. “They now have some information to start making decisions.”

According to Ruiz, a common misunderstanding about college among Hispanic families is that students without legal status can not attend college.  If a students without a legal residency has been in a High School in the United States for 36 months, they can apply to college.  They can receive the same internal scholarships for their grades and ACT/SAT scores, like any other student.  These students can not apply to FAFSA, but can apply for TAFSA for financial aid.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to help the community, especially Yesenia Lopez who is a senior here at SHHS.”