As a former educator, I have seen how the right combination of opportunity, support and self-determination can lead to academic – and life – success. Tania Ramirez, who was awarded Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s Ellie and Michael Agresta Scholarship in June, exemplifies a student who grabbed hold of opportunities, accepted support and worked hard to succeed.
Tania describes herself as “determined.” She was determined to get good grades. Determined to get accepted to college. Determined to earn a scholarship. Determined to become a nurse. In her short life, Tania’s determination has already helped her attain three of these important goals.
Thanks to the Ellie and Michael Agresta Scholarship, Tania is working on her fourth goal: She will start college this fall at USCB, armed with scholarships and eager to study nursing.
Tania’s success hides the fact that things have not always been easy for her. She comes from a single-parent household. Her mother fled the violence of El Salvador before Tania was born. And though she had completed several years of nursing school before immigrating, Tania’s mother was unable to continue her schooling in the U.S. She works as a self-employed caregiver and housekeeper.
Though Tania has faced challenges, she has taken advantage of opportunities presented to her. She excelled academically, volunteered, served as a class officer, played in the string orchestra, earned the position of platoon chief in NJROTC, and held a part-time job.
And she had a solid support system. In addition to her family’s love and encouragement, a mentor, Jan Cale, entered Tania’s life in third grade and has been cheering her on for 10 years. “She helped me see the importance of education,” Tania said. “And she’s been there for every milestone.”
Support has also come from the Agrestas, through their scholarship. They believe “Education is a like a key. It opens the door to the many paths one will take in the future.” When they reviewed Tania’s scholarship application, they immediately saw her potential. “Tania epitomizes the student that will achieve their goals and have many opportunities by getting a college education. It would be a shame if she could not go because of finances.”
The Ellie and Michael Agresta Scholarship is one of the Community Foundation’s several need-based scholarships. The Agrestas wanted to help ease the financial burden of college. But they wanted to do something else, as well. “We want to give students confidence in knowing we believe in their goals. And we believe in them.”
If you believe in the importance of education for students like Tania and, ultimately, for the future of our region, and you would like more information about establishing a scholarship, call us at 843-681-9100.
Jackie Rosswurm, Ph.D. is the interim president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.