Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) threw a three-day celebration for the first graduating class of RMHC/HACER National Scholarship recipients in Chicago last week, topped off by a graduation ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on Aug. 16, McDonald's announced.
Journalist and TV personality María Antonieta Collins led the ceremonies, while Juan Andrade Jr. gave the keynote speech. Andrade is one of only two Hispanics ever to receive a Presidential Medal.
"The RMHC/HACER National Scholarship Program was established to financially assist Hispanic students with outstanding academic records and a true commitment to serving their community," said Edgardo A. Navarro, vice president marketing - McDonald's USA. "Today we commemorate your heritage, celebrate your achievements, and share the promise of a bright future for you and the communities you will serve through your new skills and dedication."
The three members of the 2012 RMHC/HACER National Scholarship college graduating class are Brian Campos, a neurobiology major at Harvard University with citations in Mandarin and French; Samuel Cruz, an international business major and biology minor at Ramapo College of New Jersey; and Maira Mercado, an economics and history major at Claremont McKenna College.
"The RMHC/HACER National Scholarship Program is more than a $100,000 scholarship that helped with my college tuition," said Mercado. "It has provided me with a peer support system and continues to ease my nerves as I think of applying and interviewing for jobs. I'm really excited about the future, and I hope that by graduating from college, I can inspire other Hispanic students to continue to study hard and complete their studies."
Other scholars are pursuing degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown University, Yale University, Princeton University and Baylor University.
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The three-day event included mentoring sessions, resume and job interview tips, and a river cruise through downtown Chicago.
"We are extremely proud of the success of the first generation of RMHC/HACER National Scholarship graduates," said Martin J. Coyne, president and CEO of RMHC. "Through this celebratory trip to Chicago, McDonald's not only wanted to congratulate our first college graduating class for their tremendous accomplishment, but to also provide all of the scholarship recipients with networking opportunities and mentoring sessions to help them with their next stage in life – whether it be graduate school or beginning their careers."
The RMHC/HACER National Scholarship Program has provided $1.9 million in scholarships for college-bound Hispanic students since 2008 and is an extension of the RMHC/HACER Scholarship Program founded in 1985 by Richard Castro, a McDonald's owner and operator from El Paso, Texas, with the support of RMHC, McDonald's Corp., and local Hispanic McDonald's owner/operators throughout the country.
Castro, a former educator, established the program after noticing increasing school drop-out rates among Hispanic students due to financial difficulties.
The program provides awards ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 per student and is one of the country's largest college scholarship programs for graduating Hispanic high school students. Applications for the 2013 scholarship program will be available on Oct. 1.
For more information on scholarships, click here.
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