Student Loan Hero is thrilled to announce the recipients of our scholarships for the Spring 2017 semester.
All of these students have demonstrated incredible resilience in their pursuit of education. We’re excited to award a total of $4,000 in scholarship money to help alleviate their educational costs.
After careful review of hundreds of essay submissions, our financial experts selected two finalists and four semi-finalists. Finalists received $1,000 each, while semi-finalists earned runner-up prizes of $500 each.
These students inspire all of us here at Student Loan Hero with their determination and commitment. We hope this scholarship money helps ease the burden of tuition and related costs.
Student Loan Hero will grant more awards for the Fall 2017 semester. And we invite any actively enrolled students to apply. This next round will be open from June 15 to August 15.
Check out the amazing life stories of our Spring 2017 scholarship winners.
Nice Loufoua, Northwest Nazarene University
Top prize: $1,000
Nice Loufoua is a social work major as well as track and field athlete in her sophomore year at Northwest Nazarene University. As a first generation college student, Nice says, “sometimes the pressure to be successful can be extremely overwhelming, but I am very thankful for how far I have gotten on my academic journey.”
Born in Brazzaville, Congo, Nice and her family came to the U.S. nine years ago through the World Relief program. By the age of 10, Nice had lived in three countries and countless cities. When her family finally settled in the U.S., they had no friends or family to help them adjust. And, they couldn’t speak the language.
Over time, Nice says, “Our English improved, we made new friends, became less reserved and afraid, and finally began fitting in.”
With her parents’ support, Nice became the first in her family to attend college. And she strives to provide a permanent home for her family after years of relocating.
“Someday, I will have a college degree, a well-paying job, and financial stability,” says Nice. “[These opportunities] will allow me to pay off my parents’ mortgage, giving them their very first home.”
Miriam Ramos Torres, The University of Texas at El Paso
Top prize: $1,000
Miriam Ramos Torres is a general business major with a concentration in international business. Since she lives with her parents in Juarez, Mexico, Miriam crosses the border everyday to get to the University of Texas at El Paso.
Paying for college, Miriam says, “has been tougher and tougher on my parents each year since the peso has been devalued.” Although she and her two siblings have lived with financial instability their entire lives, Miriam has not let the challenge discourage her.
Instead, Miriam says she “gained the perseverance to overcome financial adversities in order to help my parents and myself out of debt and get ourselves into financial stability.”
With a college degree, she strives to help her parents pay for her brother’s education. Her financial struggles, Miriam says, “have helped me become more patient, persistent, and has taught me to value everything that we receive.”
Tarrin Joslin, Johns Hopkins University School of Education
Runner-up prize: $500
Tarrin Joslin is working toward her master’s degree in education at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Tarrin has been teaching special education for two years and currently works in a high-needs elementary school outside of New Orleans.
“As a teacher in a Title I school district, I lack many of the resources that my students need in order to be successful,” Tarrin explains. This scholarship will allow her to “provide materials that [her] students so desperately need.”
It will be a step she adds, “toward ensuring that this wonderful group of students from a low-income, inner-city area has a teacher who is highly qualified and a learning environment that is equipped to meet their needs.”
Tarrin works to close the achievement gap in low-performing schools. She also finds time to volunteer at animal shelters and community outreach programs for children with disabilities.
Joseph Augustin, University of Maryland
Runner up prize: $500
Joseph Augustin took on financial responsibility for his family at the young age of 18. As a freshman in college, he worked as a security guard and lived off-campus so he would have money to send home to Haiti.
Given his financial situation, Joseph decided to join the ROTC program.
“It was perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Joseph reflects. What’s more, he says the Army taught him “leadership skills and motivated me every day to serve my country and family.”
While his college years were difficult, Joseph says they taught him many life lessons. Essentially, he learned how to balance a budget and live within his means. Joseph is now studying for his master’s degree in cybersecurity technology at the University Of Maryland.
Erica Contreras, University of South Florida
Runner-up prize: $500
Erica Contreras is the first of her seven siblings to go to college. She’s a junior at the University of South Florida, where she studies elementary education.
Erica’s family immigrated to the U.S. with “no money, no job, and no place to live.” Growing up, they migrated from state to state following the harvest.
Eventually, Erica began working in the fields herself at only 10 years old. There were some nights, she says, where her family didn’t have enough money for food.
Erica continues to work while going to school. She sends her income home to help her family. And she works hard to “become an educator and motivate students that have dealt with the same upbringing I’ve had to continue their education.”
Despite her hardships, Erica says, “my motivation and dedication are at their highest.”
Alejandro Velez, The University of Texas at El Paso
Runner-up prize: $500
Alejandro Velez double majors in economics and finance and minors in computer science at the University of Texas at El Paso. He plans to go to law school after graduating.
Ultimately, Alejandro says he’s passionate about helping others through community service.
“One of the reasons I help most people is not because I have too much; it is because I know how it feels to have nothing,” Alejandro explains. In fact, he and his family escaped the drug war in Juarez, Mexico and moved to El Paso, Texas.
Then in 2015, Alejandro’s younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia. He has had two critical operations and continues to have weekly chemotherapy treatments. When he’s not helping his brother, Alejandro is volunteering with children diagnosed with cancer in his community.
He is also the Recruiter Coordinator for a community service group called Apanical. The group collects donations and sells them to a company in Mexico. The proceeds help families pay for expensive medical treatment.
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