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Three at Gulf High named National Hispanic Scholars

National Hispanic Scholars Sarah Zajd, from left, Mari Mercado and Daniel Rivera are busy checking things off their to do lists.

MICHELE MILLER | Times

National Hispanic Scholars Sarah Zajd, from left, Mari Mercado and Daniel Rivera are busy checking things off their to do lists.

This week's featured newsmakers, Gulf High's Mari Mercado, Daniel Rivera and Sarah Zajd are most definitely college bound and getting an extra boost after receiving notification that each has been named a National Hispanic Scholar by the College Board. That honor came for these seniors after scoring in the top 2 percent in the nation on the PSAT in their junior year, maintaining a 3.0 or higher grade point average and being at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino descent.

All are well on their way academically, and because it's senior year, they've been busy crossing some things off their senior "to do" lists: taking the SAT and ACT for the last time, getting their resumes in shape and figuring out which schools they're going to apply to for early admission.

Also on the list: putting in requests for recommendation letters from teachers and administrators, starting the application process and researching scholarship opportunities.

Money, after all, has a lot to do with which college or university you end up attending.

Rule of thumb is, "seek and ye shall find" — and that includes taking a gander at your family tree and your heritage.

Daniel, whose dream school is Dartmouth College, has already done his share of scholarship searching.

"Basically, I'm trying to get anything I can get," Daniel said, noting that while there are plenty of scholarships available for Hispanic/Latino students, there is money out there for students of other ethnic backgrounds as well. Those with an American Indian bloodline, for instance, are the most underrepresented ethnic group in American colleges and universities, so there are plenty of scholarships to be found.

"Believe it or not, there's a lot of opportunity out there," Daniel said.

You just have to look.

Senior to do list

• Check out the monthly scholarship bulletin and the scholarship search programs provided by your high school guidance/career office.

• Attend financial aid nights.

• Think locally. Many civic organizations or clubs offer smaller scholarships that can add up.

• Look to family connections. Your family tree could land an opportunity based on ethnicity. Having a grandfather who was a member of a club or trade union could open a door, as can alumni connections.

• Fill out the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as soon possible. Some aid is awarded on a first-come basis.

Three at Gulf High named National Hispanic Scholars 10/19/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 1:21pm]
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