Keyla Negron doesn't know any firefighters except for one who attends her church in Fair Haven.
But that didn't stop the New Haven Hispanic Firefighters Association from giving her $1,000 to help pay for college.
At their recent annual banquet, the Hispanic Firefighters Association and New Haven police Latin Officer Society awarded six college scholarships to New Haven, Conn., high school seniors.
Negron, the valedictorian at High School in the Community, applied at the urging of her guidance counselor. She was awaiting news on other scholarships to help her attend University of Connecticut when she learned of the financial help from the firefighters.
"She's very smart," said her father, Samuel. "I can't believe it. Thank God."
The scholarships are awarded to high school seniors of Hispanic descent every year based on academics and financial need.
At the banquet, the two fraternal societies also recognize police officers and firefighters for their accomplishments on and off the job but the scholarships are "what it's all about," said police Sgt. Tony Reyes, president of the Latino Officers Society.
Gysel Montufar, a Hillhouse senior, will attend Manhattanville College in New York. She attended the banquet with her parents and sister.
"I've been really concerned about the financial situation with school and I was just really thankful," she said.
The organizations also honored Career High School Principal Michael Ceraso; police Officer Paul Bicki, a survivor of two bouts with cancer; Assistant Drillmaster Rene Cordova, longtime president of the Hispanic Firefighters Association; Firefighters Angel Aviles, Jaime Polite and police Officers David Rivera, Jose Miranda and Richard Cotto. Continued...
Sgt. Alfonso Vazquez, the head of the police major crimes unit, was named Officer of the Year.
Polite, a member of the Firebird Society, an organization for African American firefighters, was recognized in part for his off-duty actions during a Firebirds picnic last year, when he helped revive a man found floating face down in the water at Lighthouse Park.
Recipients of the scholarships were Montufar, Negron, Alisha Daniela Noble, Omar Garcia, Alexandra Torresquintero, and Jose Tineo.
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