What is larger than the population of Canada, Poland and Australia? The number of American college students that graduate with student debt – over 40 million – four times the size of Sweden! Here at AMF, we have made a commitment that has grown to 6 annual, $20,000 scholarships, and $725,000 gifted to date to combat this shocking statistic. We understand that the monumental accomplishment of being accepted and pursuing a college education often comes with an even larger price tag. With tuition costs soaring higher each year, the possibility of college has become daunting and sometimes impossible for many individuals who may not have the financial resources to fund their education or have hesitation for what can feel like a peaceful surrender to the huge undertaking and responsibility of paying off student loans.
This week, we are catching up with Alma Oñate, a 2012 graduate of Hamilton High School and AMF Scholarship winner. On paper, she is an ambitious and driven rising star that has taken full advantage of this opportunity and has bright plans for her future. Although her schedule is packed full of honors classes, homework, multiple jobs and volunteering, she still manages to make time for her family and friends and has a real understanding of the importance of enjoying life’s sweetest moments. Nearing the end of her sophomore year at NKU, she is majoring in biochemistry on a pre-med track with a minor in the honors program. Upon graduation, she plans to attend medical school and continue to fuel her passion for helping children to as a pediatrician, with a dream to one day work with “Doctors Without Borders”. Let’s see what she’s been up to!
How have you become involved with AMF?
I volunteer each week with AMF at their Whiz Kids program at Roberts Paideai Academy. I decided I wanted to give back to the organization that has given so much to my family and I. This program is one of my favorite activities because I get to work one-on-one with Emily, my awesome second grader. We work on her reading skills, I teach her techniques for improvement and in return, she teaches me to never take life too seriously, and that is A-ok to be a little sassy sometimes! This experience has been a wonderful opportunity that has allowed us both to grow and I admire when a program has the power to do that. I have come very far and have accomplished a lot in almost two, short years. None of this would have been possible without the Anthony Muñoz Foundation Scholarship. I have said this before and I will say it again, this scholarship has taken a huge burden off of my back. Without this scholarship, I would have probably had to work a full time job as a server, and would not be capable of being so involved with such a significant financial burden. I am forever grateful for the scholarship and the support that I have received from the foundation along the way.
What is your best advice to a high school senior in the same shoes you were two years ago?
I have some words of wisdom I would like to share with students everywhere, but especially to high school students. Do NOT give up. It does not matter how many times people shut the door in your face, how many times they tell you “no” or don’t believe that you can do it, or how many challenges or hurdles you’ve faced in your life. You CAN overcome it all. I know it is may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Apply for every scholarship you can, even if you don’t think you stand a chance, because you might just be the one that gets that exciting call, congratulating you on your win. Word hard, do not give up but never forget to be human, too. And finally, SMILE – a lot. Your smile is your most powerful weapon and it will take you places. I promise.
How has your college experience been so far?
As for NKU, I love it here! I really like all of my classes, and my favorite course so far has been my honors class on witchcraft and magic. The class isn’t at all about learning spells or witchcraft itself, but rather it takes a deeper look into the cultures that practice magic from an anthropologic perspective. This class has given me a different view of the world and I believe it has made me a more understanding individual and more capable of embracing different cultures and diversity.
What you are you involved in?
Throughout these past two years, I have become very involved both on and off campus with different activities. I currently hold four positions: a chemistry/biology tutor, chemistry stockroom associate, STEM Ambassador (science, technology, engineering, and math), and on the weekends, I serve at a Mexican restaurant and teach a Sunday school class at my church.
What are your plans for the summer?
This summer I will continue working in the research laboratory to design and synthesize new compounds aimed at treating breast cancer. Sure, with so many jobs and a full course load, plus homework, tests and quizzes, things can get very busy but I make sure to relax and enjoy life. I love to read books, take naps, and spend time with my family and friends. I’m an ice cream lover, I enjoy going on walks and I sometimes pretend to be a rock star when driving my car (shhh!). And if you can’t already tell, I appreciate a sense of humor and always welcome a good joke.
The Anthony Muñoz Scholarship Fund awards a $20,000 reward to six deserving Tri-state seniors who are graduating from a high school in one of the 21 counties eligible for consideration and entering college in freshman standing this fall. In 2012, the foundation brought operations in-house which allowed us to reward an additional scholarship each year. Our committee considers a wide variety of accomplishments and stories with a focus on overcoming personal adversity, financial need, academic performance and a student who has exhibited a leadership role(s) in or outside of the classroom, and shows admirable dedication to making an impact by giving back to the community.
Could you or a senior you know use $20,000 for college? It could be YOUR year! The clock is ticking with the April 30th deadline. Download your application now at munozfoundation.org, and learn more about eligibility requirements and application information. Follow us on Twitter @munozfoundation, for our exclusive scholarship tips and updates!
Questions? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org – were looking forward to hearing from you!