Alex García, Jr.,
has big plans for his future as he enters his third year as a
business management major with a human resources minor at
Kent State University.
“I want to open my own establishment, learn the skills of a
leader, and through that, my employees are treated just like the
customers—treated well,” he said with conviction.
The Central Catholic High School graduate wants to one
day open a “music-themed” entertainment venue, with “a big dance
floor with different genres of live music,” including swing and
“I’m an old man at heart, deep in my soul,” he said with a grin.
“We can do community events in there as well, even Latin
García was quick to point out how the $500 scholarship from
Latins United will help him to continue his studies and
realize his dream.
“Books, tuition, anything—there’s a lot of hidden fees when it
comes to college,” he said. “I’ve learned that, so this will
definitely go towards those and will make a big difference.”
Garcia’s grandmother attended college but never finished a
degree. His mom went back to school about the same time he
headed to college, so he calls her “his biggest inspiration.”
Perhaps the biggest applause during a pre-game scholarship
ceremony on the field went to 35-year old Andrea de la Roca,
a single mom of three kids who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree
in social work at Lourdes University.
A part-time youth advocate at Adelante, Inc. is also a
Latino community advocate of sorts. Her story and struggles are
well-known to her many friends in attendance at the game. So the
$1,000 scholarship she received from SAO will go a long way in
setting an example of what an education can do for her kids—even
though they see it firsthand when doing homework together at the
same table each evening.
“I’m excited. It means that the community cares about someone
like me who’s working hard to provide a better life for my
kids,” she said. “I want to inspire youth. I want the Latino
youth to know that we need leadership that’s prepared to
advocate for the community. That’s why I’m doing this. I believe
in leading by example, so I can’t expect my kids to go to
college if I don’t do it. I think they’re pretty impressed.”
Her two sons attend St. John’s Jesuit Academy in eighth
and sixth grades. Her daughter is a third grade student at St.
Benedict’s. The children spent five weeks with their
grandparents this summer while Ms. de la Roca went to Italy for
a study abroad opportunity.
via SAO also awarded a $1,000 scholarship to early
childhood major Taylor Tafelski, who plays on the
school’s softball team and is active in the Toledo Labre
Project, which provides meals to the needy. Ms. Tafelski plans
to join the Army Reserves and teach elementary school.
“It’s always better when there’s hope for tomorrow,” said
Barbosa. “We’re trying to reinforce that by giving them a better
chance to succeed at what they want to do. (I feel) better and
better about the future.”
Owens Community College
via SAO presented $825 scholarships to Samantha
Bridget, a social work major and Madison Soltis, who
could not be present.
Dr. Greg Guzmán,
the Northwest Ohio representative to the Ohio Commission on
Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA), and Jesús Salas, senior
attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE)
each were nominated by LaPrensa and SAO to throw out the
ceremonial first pitch.
“This is a great night to celebrate Latino heritage here in
Northwest Ohio,” said Guzman, who practiced with his son, a
pitcher in youth-league baseball. “I’ve got to make sure I snap
the ball. I have to remember to come over the top and snap it at
the end. He knows I’m not the greatest.”
“I’m honored. I’m totally honored,” said Salas, who worked his
son attending medical school.
“I think it’s for a great cause—Hispanic kids and scholarships.
I don’t think there’s a much better honor than this.”
Both men lobbed the ball with precision over home plate to a
Toledo Mud Hens catcher, completing another successful Latino
Heritage Night/Latino Scholarship Day attended by thousands
of people. The Toledo Mud Hens, however, did not fare as well,
dropping a 5-3 decision to the Clippers in a game that served as
the opener to the second half of the minor-league baseball